West China Research Center

Established with Sichuan University in 2016 to promote research on Western China.

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In 2016, the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies established a new collaborative partnership with Sichuan University’s Research Center for the Study of Western China to promote research and to facilitate scholarly exchange between the two institutions.

Research areas for collaboration focus on the following: the archaeology and art history of Western China; Tibetan and Buddhist Studies; pre-modern, modern, and contemporary history and society in Western China; and research on the minority cultures of Western China.

Since 2016, many Harvard faculty members and students have gone to the center to not only conduct research in collaboration with their Sichuan University counterparts, but to also give lectures, go to archaeological sites, and to study Chinese and Tibetan languages.

Read the West China Research Centers’ latest Annual Report and strategic plan for 2020.opens PDF file

Read our announcement about the inauguration of the West China Research Center in 2016.



Fall 2019

Professor Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University attended the International Academic Symposium on the History and Culture of the Silk Road Highlands (高原丝绸之路历史文化国际学术研讨会)

The Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University invited two associate professors from Sichuan University (Li Haichao from the Department of Archaeology and Li Qianqian from the School of History and Culture) to be visiting scholars for the 2019-2020 academic year.

Spring 2019

Professor Rowan Flad of the Department of Anthropology took students to Sichuan in March to conduct research at archaeological sites around Chengdu. Several members of the Harvard community, including Professor Flad, gave the following lectures at Sichuan University to share their research, further deepening the relationship between the two universities:

  • “The Archaeology of Microbes: From Maladies to the Microbiome to Milk,” Professor Christina Warinner, Department of Anthropology
  • “Investigating Ancient Kings and Queens on the North Coast of Peru,” Curator Jeff Quilter of the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • “Farming Amid Natural Disaster on the Desert North Coast of Peru,” Ph.D. Candidate Ari Caramanica, Department of Anthropology
  • “The Tao River Archaeological Project: Technological Changes Along the Proto Silk Roads in Northwest China,” Professor Rowan Flad, Department of Anthropology

More information on the lectures can be found here.
Watch the video produced by Chengdu TV about this visit trip.
Watch videos by students documenting the trip here and here.

Professor Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University visited the Center for Tibetan Studies of Sichuan University in January, May to June, and October to conduct lectures and research.

Fall 2018

The Center for Tibetan Studies of Sichuan University hosted the 7th International Symposium on Tibetan Archaeology and Art on October 19-21. Three doctoral students from Harvard University (Joie Szu-chiao, Chen Xingyi Wang, and Shan Wu) participated in the academic conference as interpreters. Professor Leonard W.J. van der Kuijp of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University participated in the symposium, and he continues to serve as a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Tibetan Studies.

Summer 2018

The first training program on Intensive Tibetan-Sanskrit Reading was held July 1-15 at Sichuan University. More than 100 young instructors, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students around the world attended the program. The training program was jointly taught by professors from Sichuan, Harvard, Cambridge, and Oxford universities, and aimed to develop interests in Tibetan Studies, to help improve students’ Tibetan and Sanskrit language abilities, and to guide students to engage in discussions of special topics. The following courses were taught over the two- week period:

  • “Advanced Classical Tibetan [Selected Works of Shākya mchog ldan (1428-1507)]”
  • “Intermediate Classical Tibetan (The biography of the venerable Chos kyi sgron ma (1422-1455), the third reincarnation of the wisdom-dakini Bsod nams ’dren)”
  • “Seminar: Special Topics in Tibetan Studies”
  • “Reading the Meghadūta by Kālidāsa”
Spring 2018

From May 5-12, Professor Michael Szonyi of the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University and Professor Li Deying of Chinese History at Sichuan University led a trip to the Chengdu Plain to conduct research on rural social history. More information about this trip can be found here.

Research Highlight


Professor Jinah Kim examines how an exhibition on Buddhist art at Beijing’s Palace Museum could establish the foundation for greater dialogue and understanding between India and China.

Read More on our Blog

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