Across the High Seas: Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Indian Ocean Littoral

Conference/Symposium: Center for Chinese Studies: Center for Japanese Studies: Center for Buddhist Studies: Institute of East Asian Studies: Tang Center for Silk Road Studies: Center for Southeast Asia Studies | May 5 | 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | 180 Doe Library

 Hyunhee Park, John Jay College of Criminal Justice; Chapurukha Kusimba, American University; Steven Sidebotham, University of Delaware; Eivind Heldaas Seland, University of Bergen; Ariane de Saxé, CNRS; Jun Kimura, Tokai University; James Lankton, UCL; Derek Heng, Northern Arizona University; Jiang Bo, National Center of Underwater Cultural Heritage, Beijing

 Osmund Bopearachchi, Berkeley/CNRS

 Tang Center for Silk Road Studies

Friday May 4: 9:30-5pm
Saturday May 5: 9:30-12:30

In the public imagination, the Silk Roads has become a catchall phrase to describe the overland and maritime exchange networks crisscrossing Eurasia, from the first Millennium BCE through (at least) the medieval period.

Although distinct patterns of long-distance exchange are attested to as early as the Bronze Age when, for example, lapis lazuli was exported by land and sea from the Indus Valley to the Near East, textual and archaeological research points to the turn of the Common Era as the period when the first institutionalized networks of maritime trade connecting what is now Europe to Africa and Asia were developed, concomitant with existing overland routes. These networks were defined by increased levels of interaction alongside the exchange of goods and ideas.

As scholars continue to explore and uncover particularities of the Eurasian networks, evidence suggests there is a need to reconfigure the monolithically imagined Silk Roads into smaller fragmented webs of economic, political and cultural exchanges, to locate those networks in time and space, and to study them as functioning both independently and interdependently.

This conference will highlight recent archaeological and historical research on some of the networks that operated across and around the Indian Ocean, and focus on the spatial configurations specific to maritime trade and the transformations of cultural and material artifacts as a result of those exchanges.