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China Westward: Reimagining the Interwoven Material and Cultural Histories of China, Central Asia, and the Himalayas

October 14, 2023 @ 8:45 am October 15, 2023 @ 12:20 pm

About the Conference: This conference will explore historical interactions between China and the “Western Regions,” providing new insights into Chinese civilization and its global context. Experts will focus on the historical period when China was deeply engaged with the “Western Regions,” primarily from the 3rd century BCE to the 13th century CE. The “Western Regions” under discussion encompass territories from the narrow definition of the region south of Tianshan to the vast territories West of the central plain, South Asia, West Asia, and even North Africa and Europe.

The conference aims to synthesize archaeological materials and historical sources, enabling us to construct a comprehensive narrative of the interactions between China and the Western Regions throughout various historical periods. By weaving together these diverse strands of evidence, we aim to create a nuanced and detailed depiction of this historical exchange. The panels delve into a diverse range of fascinating subjects, providing a thorough exploration of this enthralling field. Topics include: Dance and Music, Tombs and Visions of the Afterlife, New Cosmology, Visual Astrology, Caves and Visions, as well as Stupa and Reliquary. 

Our distinguished speakers will provide insights into diverse aspects of Chinese Studies, Westward Chinese development, and the profound connections between China and its adjacent regions. Seize this exceptional opportunity to network with scholars, students, and enthusiasts who harbor a deep passion for exploring China’s vast cultural and historical tapestry. 

We warmly invite you to join us for this vibrant and enlightening two-day symposium. Your presence and active engagement will undeniably enhance the depth and richness of our discussions. 

Day 1 — Saturday, October 14: GROUND/NETWORK/TRANSMISSION

8:45 AM – 9:00 AM — Opening Remarks
Speakers: Mark Wu, Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Eugene Y. Wang

9:00 AM – 10:30 AM — Panel 1 – Transmission, Exchange, and Diffusion: Insights from Tibet, China, and Sogdiana
Chair: Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Discussant: Deborah Klimburg-Salter
Panelists: Wei Huo (remote), Cuilan Liu, Matteo Campareti (remote)

Short 10-minute break

10:40 AM – 12:10 PM — Panel 2 – Sculpting Faith, Painting Devotion: Buddhist Narratives and Visual Transmissions from South to East Asia
Chair: Michelle McCoy, Discussant: Monika Zin
Panelists: Li Ling (remote), Nobuyoshi Yamabe, Xuecheng Shao

12:10 PM – 1:10 PM — Lunch break

1:10 PM – 2:40 PM — Panel 3 – Unveiling Tibetan Antiquity: Rituals, Civilizations, and Cultural Crossroads
Chair: Deborah Klimburg-Salter, Discussant: Cuilan Liu
Panelists: Mark Aldenderfer, Charles Ramble, Shuai Li

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM — Panel 4 – Navigating Celestial Bodies: Astrology, Cosmology, and Artistic Expression
Chair: Monika Zin, Discussant: Michael Norton
Panelists: Matthew P. Canepa, Michelle McCoy, Jeffrey Kotyk


9:00 AM – 10:30 AM — Panel 5 – Rock as Canvas: Pictorial Expressions of Divinity in Cliffs and Manmade Grottoes
Chair: Michael Norton, Discussant: Michelle McCoy
Panelists: Monika Zin, Sophie Xiaofei Lei, Jisheng Xie (remote)

Short 10-minute break

10:40 AM – 12:10 PM — Panel 6 – Mortality and Transcendence: Relationships Between Stupa, Funerary Practices, and Monastic Painting
Chair: Eugene Y. Wang, Discussant: Jeffrey Kotyk
Panelists: Tao Tong (remote), Chai Yee Leow, Deborah Klimburg-Salter

12:10 PM – 12:20PM — Closing Remarks
Speakers: Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp, Eugene Y. Wang

Speakers and their affiliations:

Prof. Eugene Y. Wang (Harvard University)
Prof. Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp (Harvard University)
Prof. Mark Aldenderfer (University of California Merced)
Prof. Matthew P. Canepa (University of California)
Dr. Matteo Compareti (Capital Normal University, Beijing)
Prof. Wei Huo (Sichuan University)
Prof. Deborah Klimburg-Salter (University of Vienna)
Prof. Jeffrey Kotyk (Università di Bologna)
Sophie Xiaofei Lei (Harvard University)
Dr. Chai Yee Leow (Harvard University)
Prof. Ling Li (Sichuan University)
Dr. Shuai Li (Harvard University)
Dr. Cuilan Liu (University of Pittsburgh)
Dr. Michelle McCoy (University of Pittsburgh)
Michael Norton (Harvard University)
Prof. Charles Ramble (EPHE-PSL, CRCAO)
Dr. Xuecheng Shao (Shanghai International Studies University)
Dr. Tao Tong (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)
Prof. Jisheng Xie (Zhejiang University)
Prof. Mark Wu (Harvard University)
Prof. Nobuyoshi Yamabe (Waseda University)
Prof. Monika Zin (University of Leipzig)

This conference is generously supported by the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, the Department of History of Art and Architecture, the Department of South Asian Studies, the Harvard FAS CAMLab, and the Harvard China Fund.

Register for Day One on Zoom: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_J7dxfSV7Rmiyi6pNGH6yEw#/registration
Register for Day Two on Zoom: https://harvard.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_OkEEsg1cRJyiagJK3hr81A


October 14, 2023 @ 8:45 am
October 15, 2023 @ 12:20 pm


Sackler Building Auditorium

485 Broadway
Cambridge, MA 02138 United States

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