Upcoming Events

The Silk Roads: From Local Realities to Global Narratives
28 – 30 March, 2019
Wake Forest University
Reynolda House Museum of American Art
2250 Reynolda Road, Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27106

Silk Roads Winston-Salem (SRWS) is an interdisciplinary group of Wake Forest University faculty that came together in the Fall 2016 semester to encourage teaching and scholarship related to the social, literary, religious, and artistic exchanges along the historical Silk Roads. From this group, the faculty formed an ad-hoc Steering Committee to organize events and programming. In the Spring 2017 semester, the Steering Committee announced the SRWS project to the general faculty at the College Faculty Meeting on March 13, 2017.  The Steering Committee decided to focus its efforts over the course of two years, spanning the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 academic years. The planned events culminate in a research conference that will bring leading scholars of Silk Roads studies to the Wake Forest campus.

A multiple-day, interdisciplinary conference will be held March 27-30, 2019. Instead of adhering to a geographic or temporal focus, the theme of the conference emphasizes exchange and transformation along the Silk Roads—moments of acculturation or hybridization that contributed to novel syncretic forms.

Previous Silk Roads conferences have often been targeted to specific disciplines, such as visual arts, archaeology, historical texts, or contemporary crafts. The Silk Roads: From Local Realities to Global Narratives brings together leading scholars in multiple disciplines related to Silk Roads studies. This holistic approach to understanding ancient globalization, exchanges, transformations, and movements—and their continued relevance to the present—is in line with contemporary academic trends toward interdisciplinary. Indeed, the Silk Roads is such an expansive topic that many approaches to its study must be included to accurately represent its many facets.

The Silk Roads: From Local Realities to Global Narratives takes a comprehensive approach to defining the field of Silk Road studies. It does so in three ways:

  1. We highlight the multiplicity of networks that constituted the Silk Roads. Crucially, we incorporate both land and maritime routes into a single focus.
  2. We approach the Silk Roads from a plethora of time periods spanning from the first millennium BCE to the Early Modern Period.
  3. We include participants from many disciplines, rather than cater to a single academic specialty.

Our hope in developing this comprehensive format is that it will lead to a new definition of the contours of Silk Roads studies. We seek to establish a new foundation for the field based on an interdisciplinary approach to current research.


Wednesday, March 27, 2019

9:30a-12:15p – Student Sessions ZSR Auditorium

9:30am – Culture, History, and Hybridity – Group 1 Introductions, Barry Trachtenberg, Chair

9:35am David Mulder, “Roads before Silk: People in Motion in Bronze Age Middle Asia”

9:41am Harrison Idol, “Loulan and the Formative Years of Han Domination in the Western Region”

9:47am Laurent Zhang, “The Date of the Migration of Yuezhi from the Ili valley to Bactria”

9:53am William Morgan, “Imperial Rome Looks East to India: A Meaningful Cross-Cultural Interaction”

9:59am Samuel Hartman, “Arikamedu: A Roman Port?”

10:05am Julie (Leiju) Sun, “A Triangular Contest of Power on the Tea-Horse Road: The Tang Dynasty, Tibetan Empire, and the Nanzhao Kingdom”

10:11am Tianhua Bai, “The Polo Craze during the Tang”

10:17am Jingnan Wang, “What Was Driving the Sogdians to Become Chinese from the Northern Dynasties to the Tang?”

10:23am Thaddeus Moran, “What’s Your Prophet is My Prophet”

10:29am Christopher Koontz, “All Roads Lead to Rome: The 16th-Century Cultural Exchange between Europe and Japan”

10:35am Addison Wang, “The Great Mosque of Xi’an: Whose Mosque? The Formation

of the ‘Hui’ Identity and Ethnic Politics in Early Ming Dynasty”

10:41am Alex Green, “Uyghur: How the Chinese War on Terror Evolved into a War on Culture            “


10:50am – Group Photo – location: the stairs that lead to the atrium

11:00am – Arts of the Silk Roads – Group 2 Introductions, Rais Rahman, Chair

11:05am Radella Li, “Pi Pa for Two Thousand Years”

11:11am Jimmy Zhang, “The Erhu”

11:17am Ziqing Liu, “The Story of the Hu chuang: How the Nomadic Folding Chair Changed the Way Chinese People Lived”

11:23am Maria Lagnese, “A Gilt Silver Flask from the He Family Village Hoard”

11:29am Hex Li, “Tang Tri-glazed Pottery Figures of Sogdian Merchants”

11:35am Juliana Serrano, “Measuring Function: Examining Design Principles in Changsha Pottery”

11:41am Qianxu Ding, “Changsha Ware and its association with the Maritime Silk Road”

11:47am Kayla Amador, “Sasanian Textiles in Japanese Collections”

11:53am Tammra Barfield, “Sasanian Glassware in Japan”

11:59am Xueyan (Lexi) He, “Inventing Chinoiserie: The Cultural Decoupling and Recombination in Early Modern Eurasia”

12:05pm Reid Simpson, “Gambling With History: The Persian Card Room at Graylyn”

12:15pm – Student Reception


Faculty Conference

6:30pm – c. 8:00pm – Opening Reception, Reynolda House




Thursday, March 28, 2019

8:30am – 8:45am – Introduction


8:45am – 10:05am – Welcome

8:45 Benjamin Coates, Chair

8:50 Elizabeth Clendinning (Wake Forest University), “A Balinese Welcome Dance”

9:15 Andrew Gurstelle (Wake Forest University), “Trial and Error at the Tongguan Kiln”

9:40 ZHANG Qiong (Wake Forest University), “Strange Journeys of the Yakṣas: Politics, Science, and Cultural Imagination in a Triangular Encounter of Early Modern Europe, Ming-Qing  China, and Tokugawa Japan”


10:50am – 12:15pm – Networks, Cities, and Frontiers

10:50 Ulrike Wiethaus, Chair

10:55 James Millward (Georgetown University), “What Do We Mean by ‘Cultural Exchange’ on the ‘Silk Road’? Thoughts from a Study of the Eurasian Lute”

11:25 SEN Tansen (New York University-Shanghai), “Against “Silk Road(s)”! Alternatives to Understanding Premodern Cross-Regional Interactions”

11:50 Nicola Di Cosmo (Institute of Advanced Study), “Ecological Frontiers, Economic Exchange, and the Origins of the Silk Road”


2:15pm – 3:30pm – Central Asia

2:15 Monique O’Connell, Chair

2:20 Michael L. Bates (American Numismatic Society), “Restructuring Central Asia by Place and Time”

2:45 WU Xin (Fudan University), “The Achaemenid Empire and the Formation of the Silk Roads”

3:10 David Mulder (Wake Forest University), “Roads before Silk: People in Motion in Late Third Millennium BCE Middle Asia”


7:30pm – 10:00pm – Performance: Silk Road Ensemble


Friday, March 29, 2019

8:30am – 10:15am – New Landscapes

8:30 Nina Lucas, Chair

8:35 Jennifer Post (University of Arizona), “New Trade Routes, Local Soundways, and Environmental Impact: Changing Pastoral Soundscapes and Lifeways in Inner Asia”

9:00 SHI Yunli (University of Science and Technology of China), “Charting the Chinese Sky with Western Observations: The Star Maps Made by Jesuit Astronomers in The Late Ming Dynasty Revisited”

9:25 James A. Anderson (University of North Carolina-Greensboro), “Pearls and Power: Chōla’s Tribute Mission to the Northern Song Court within the Maritime Silk Road Trade Network”

9:50 Jay Ford (Wake Forest University), “Mahāyāna Buddhism: Evolving on the Silk Road”


10:45am – 12:05pm – Global & Local

10:45 Steve Folmar, Chair

10:50 Hyunhee Park (The City University of New York, John Jay College), “Local and Global: Canton during the Pax Mongolica

11:15 DU Dan (University of North Carolina-Charlotte), “Flying Cash: Credit Instruments on the Silk Roads”

11:40 Silvia Tiboni-Craft and YU Qiaona (Wake Forest University), “Traveling the Silk Road: A Virtual Path to Language Acquisition, Culture, Literature and Business in the Past and Present”


1:30pm – 3:15pm – Maritime Encounters

1:30 T.H.M. Gellar-Goad, Chair

1:35 Chapurukha M. Kusimba (American University), “Exploring Maritime Networks Between China and East Africa”

2:00 Margaret Sarkissian (Smith College), “From Fabled Port to Muddy Lagoon: The Fluctuating Fortunes of One Stop on the Maritime Silk Road”

2:25 John Ruddiman (Wake Forest University), “Soldier to Supercargo, Continental to Consul: Samuel Shaw’s Pursuits of Independence on an Oceanic ‘Silk Road’”

2:50 Jeffrey D. Lerner (Wake Forest University), “The Case for Shipwrecked Indians in Germany”


3:30pm – 4:25pm – Local & Global

3:30 Ananda Mitra, Chair

3:35 Margaret Ewalt (Wake Forest University), “Convergent Knowledge (Ex)change along the Literal and Figurative Silk Roads: How ‘China china’ or ‘Jesuits’ bark’ became ‘quinine’”

4:00 Charles Wilkins (Wake Forest University), “Gambling with History? The Persian Card Room at Graylyn International Conference Center”


6:00pm – Hanes Gallery

8:45pm – The Persian Card Room at Graylyn


Saturday, March 30, 2019

9:00am – 10:15am – Spice

9:00 Rob Hellyer, Chair

9:05 Wayne Silver (Wake Forest University), “A Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) along the Silk Road: How We Detect and Use Spices”

9:30 Monique O’Connell (Wake Forest University), “Silk Road Pharmacy: Apothecaries, Plague Remedies, and Print in Early Modern Venice”

9:55 Eric Dursteler (Brigham Young University), “Spice and Taste in the Culinary World of the Early Modern Mediterranean”


10:45am – 12:30pm – Art & Architecture

10:45 Laura Veneskey, Chair

10:50 Nancy S. Steinhardt (University of Pennsylvania), “The Role of Chinese Architecture and its Decoration along Sixth-Tenth Century Silk Roads”

11:15 LUO Di (Wake Forest University), ‘“Diamond in the Square:’ Lantern Ceilings in Traditional Asian Architecture”

11:40 Bernadine Barnes (Wake Forest University), “Prints and Pilgrims on the Silk Road”

12:05 Yaohua Shi (Wake Forest University), “From Dunhuang to Uji: Pure Land Iconography and Architecture”


2:00pm – 3:40pm – Sogdians

2:00 Megan Mulder, Chair

2:05 Judith A. Lerner (New York University), “Silk Roads and the Impact of Sogdian Dance”

2:30 Aleksandr Naymark (Hofstra University), “The Sogdians and the Silk Road: The Emerging Contours of a Complex Relationship”

2:55 QI Xiaoyan (Changzhi University), “The Sogdians in Shaanxi during the Northern Dynasties (386-618 AD): Chinese Literary Sources and Archaeological Evidence”

3:20 Stewart Carter (Wake Forest University), “Music for the Sogdian Whirl: Instruments, Ensembles, and Dancers in Buddhist Art of the Tang Dynasty”


4:00pm – 5:20pm – South Asia

4:00 Wei-chin Lee, Chair

4:05 Chad Haines (Arizona State University), “Placing Cosmopolitanism: Global, National, and Local Imaginings of the Silk Route in Pakistan”

4:30 Rais Rahman (Wake Forest University), “Cosmopolitan Universe: Bombay as a Site of Intersecting Identities”

4:55 Saba Samee (Institute for Art and Culture, Lahore), “The Progression of the Karakoram Highway from a Road for Merchants, to a Pilgrimage Route, and a Route for Invaders, into a Global Economic Corridor”


8:00pm – 9:00pm – Closing Reception



We Thank our Sponsors:

Kline Harrison, Associate Provost for Global Affairs