LINK LISTICLE ON CENTRAL ASIA/SILK ROADS, BUDDHISM, CHINA, AND CLIMATE/ENVIRONMENt for your transition from summer to autumn
Despite August being a month of holiday for many UK and European residents and many people elsewhere in the world either in various phases of lockdown or out on archaeological fieldwork (lucky dogs!), it has been busy online with webinars and tweets and oh, so many new publications. So, I’m publishing another listicle for your reading pleasure. This time I’ve limited the topics to Central Asia/Silk Roads, Buddhism, China, and climate/environment. First I wish to pass on a couple of comments from a webinar hosted by the Association for Asian Studies on Asian Studies and Black Lives Matter. This is a necessary conversation for anyone working in archaeology, anthropology, Central Asia, China and well, anywhere. The participants ‘offered their perspectives on the ways in which considerations of race enrich the study of Asia, as well as provide their views on better approaches to support and mentor Black students and scholars of Asia.’ Christine Yano began with: ‘Not only do we raise the conversation, but we raise the bar of action … as engaged scholars we dwell in the realm of practice … evolving community, and [one] of commitment’ – she reached out specifically to the young; to grad students and even high schoolers as well as established scholars to change the way Asian Studies works. William Bridges put it more poignantly when he said ”…I still approach our conversation today with a sense of optimism, of possibility. Now, my optimism is not naïve. I realise the price we’ve paid for this optimism is the last eight minutes and forty-six seconds of George Floyd’s life, a time span that serves as a microcosmic compression of centuries of Black oppression and broken bones. But I am optimistic nevertheless, because this moment in history has given us the opportunity to shift the parameters of the possible. It is now possible for example, for more of us than ever before to see that Asian Studies needs Black lives to matter if it is to be Asian Studies in the truest sense of the term. Let me repeat that, if Asian Studies is to be Asian Studies in the truest sense of the term, it needs to understand that Black lives matter, that Black existence has long been an integral component of the histories, presence and futures of our objective – object of study.’
Because many of us on this project are based at UCL and it is the permanent repository for the data, I include a link to the UCL Legacies of British Slave-ownership so that there is a better understanding of the long-term impact of slavery in this nation and what our institution does (or fails) to address these issues.
Many of the conversations at this week’s ACHS 2020 FUTURES – Association of Critical Heritage Studies 5th Biennial Conference focus on contested heritage, decolonisation, and promoting necessary changes. Check out @ACHS_2020 on Twitter or #achs2020.
How we as archaeologists, as heritage professionals and researchers, as architectural conservators relate to the communities in which we work and live is dependent on the automatic (or not) opportunities we more often than not were born into. We come to our study with bias and the easiest step is to recognise this bias and then the work begins to see the world in different ways and from others’ perspectives and to see how our every action impacts the lives of the people we work and live among. 2020 has certainly been a year for encouraging us to do this. We should not let this moment pass. We should not remain focused solely on the ‘norm.’ We should take this opportunity to put in the work and to do better.
Next month’s series will focus on the response to Covid-19 and the arts. There are some amazing responses to the pandemic/quarantine out there and I will share these with you in September. As always, if you have something you wish to bring to my attention do get in touch!!
If you are still in need of a little break from all this online reading and list making, here are some fab photo essays as part of Himalaya: Journal of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies.
I also want to thank Tatyana FILIMINOVA for sending in an update on how her team celebrated Archaeologist’s Day in Tajikistan in Baldzhuvan district. Her photo of the gorges there is the featured image this month…wonderful!!!
The following are in no particular order except by general topic:
central asia/silk roads
Archives of archaeologist G.A. Pugachenkova (Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan) have been digitised and are being made available. Read an interview with ‘Svetlana Gorshenina, Secretary General of the International Observatory Alerte Héritage, who initiated the project to acquire its archive, then digitize it and provide free access’.
Silk Road Futures: Tim Winter’s (University of Western Australia) Belt and Road project website. ‘Today the Silk Road is rapidly becoming one of the key geocultural and geostrategic concepts of the 21st century. A narrative of connected histories, it now operates as a platform for international trade, heritage diplomacy, infrastructure development and geopolitical ambition.’
World Historical Gazetteer ‘a collection of content and services that permit world historians, their students, and the general public to do spatial and temporal reasoning and visualization in a data rich environment at global and trans-regional scales.’
Extemely interesting project: Dispersed & Connected: Artistic Fragments along the Steppe and Silk Roads. ‘The project collects and explores narrations, images and imaginations, fragments and artistic expressions along old and new steppe and silk roads, which link dispersed and connected biographies, artistic traditions, cultural monuments and memories. These fragments will be joined in exhibitions and a concomitant scientific-artistic fieldwork notebook.’
Entire issue of Archaeology Worldwide. Magazine of the German Archaeological Institute. 2-2019 focusing on ‘Archaeology Meets High-Tech: The implementation of cutting-edge technologies’, but pg. 63 article on Portable XRF Analysers (pXRF): Mining archaeology research in Afghanistan.
Susan Whitfield’s recent post on Silk Road Digressions, ‘Routes from the Swat: Buddhism in Khotan’.
‘In 2009-2010 the OSCE Academy completed oral history project – “Oral History of Independent Kyrgyzstan,” which reflected the experiences of the population and elites in the course of transition in the late 1980s-1990s.’
Archaeology in Eurasia, the First 25 Years. A German Archaeological Institute series.
Janz, L., A. Cameron, D. Bukhchuluun, D. Odsuren, L. Dubreuil. 2020. “Expanding frontier and building the Sphere in arid East Asia.” Quaternary International (pre-proof). from the abstract: ‘It is within the context of long-distance trade in luxury goods that we see the shift from isolated populations of pastoralists in the mountains of western Mongolia to the widespread adoption of pastoralist cultural traditions. Based on evidence of interaction between Gobi Desert groups and agrarian villages to the south, we see this desert region as the geographic core of cultural transformations among indigenous populations, and at the forefront of a third stage of advance in the spread of East Asian pastoralism.’
Yu, Alexander, W. Fedorochenko, T.T. Taylor, N.N. Sayfulloev, S. Brown, W. Rendu, A.I. Krivoshapkin, K. Douka, and S.V. Shnaider. 2020. “Early occupation of High Asia: New insights from the ornaments of the Oshhona site in the Pamir mountains.” Quaternary International.
Powell, Eric. 2020. “A Silk Road Renaissance: Excavations in Tajikistan have unveiled a city of merchant princes that flourished from the fifth to the eighth century A.D.” Archaeology July/August 2020.
Kuitems, Margo, Andrei Panin, Andrea Scifo, Irina Arzhantseva, Yury Kononov, Petra Doeve, Andreas Neocleous, Michael Dee. 2020. “Radiocarbon-based approach capable of subannual precision resolves the origins of the site of Por-Bajin.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Jun 2020, 117 (25): 14038-14041. from the abstract: ‘We locate the distinctive radiocarbon signal of the year 775 common era (CE) in wood from the base of the Uyghur monument of Por-Bajin in Russia. Our analysis shows that the construction of Por-Bajin started in the summer of 777 CE, a foundation date that resolves decades of debate and allows the origin and purpose of the building to be established.’
Betts, Alison V.G., Marika Vicziany, Peter Jia and Angelo Andrea Di Castro, eds. 2019. The Cultures of Ancient Xinjiang, Western China: Crossroads of the Silk Roads. Oxford: Archaeopress. Read Chapter 1 here.
Kreutzmann, Hermann. 2020. Hunza matters: Bordering and ordering between ancient and new Silk Roads. Weisbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.
Afghanistan refereed journal published by Edinburgh University Press.
Ismailbekova, Aksana and Philipp Lottholz, eds and trans. 2020. The Conflict in South Kyrgyzstan Ten Years on: Perspectives, Consequences, Actions. Central Asia Program, Institute for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies, The George Washington University. Available in Russian and English.
Satke, Ryskeldi. 2020. “In Kyrgyzstan, community-based tourism shows a way forward.” thethirdpole.net 31 July 2020.
Faraz, Shabina. 2020. “Pakistan’s Diamer Basha dam will drown ancient carvings.” thethirdpole.net 6 August 2020.
Dadabaev, T., and H. Komatsu (eds). 2017. Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan
Life and Politics during the Soviet Era. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ‘This volume offers perspectives from the general public in post-Soviet Central Asia and reconsiders the meaning and the legacy of Soviet administration in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. This study emphasizes that the way in which people in Central Asia reconcile their Soviet past to a great extent refers to the three-fold process of recollecting their everyday experiences, reflecting on their past from the perspective of their post-Soviet present, and re-imagining.’
Hector A. Orengo, Francesc C. Conesa, Arnau Garcia-Molsosa, Agustín Lobo, Adam S. Green, Marco Madella, Cameron A. Petrie. 2020. “Automated detection of archaeological mounds using machine-learning classification of multisensor and multitemporal satellite data.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Aug 2020, 117 (31) 18240-18250.
Premiyak, Liza. 2020. “Life in Kyrgyzstan’s once-booming uranium mining town, where the past poisons the future.” The Calvert Journal 10 August 2020.
Lerner, Jeffrey, and Yaohua Shi. 2020. Silk Roads: From Local Realities to Global Narratives. Oxford: Oxbow Books.
Kumar, Pakhee, and Ferda Ofli. 2020. “Detection of Disaster-Affected Cultural Heritage Sites from Social Media Images Using Deep Learning Techniques.” Journal of Computing and Cultural Heritage 13(3):
Haruda, A., Ventresca Miller, A.R., Paijmans, J.L.A. et al. 2020. “The earliest domestic cat on the Silk Road.” Scientific Reports 10:11241.
Foltz, Richard. 2019. A History of the Tajiks: Iranians of the East. London: Bloomsbury Press.
Article by Lesley Bannatyne in The Harvard Gazette: ‘Two Poets and a River’: Worlds of love in the Wakhan Valley: ‘Filmmaker and ethnomusicologist Richard Wolf explores the meaning of a river between countries.’ ‘On opposite sides of the Oxus River border between Tajikistan and Afghanistan live two poet-singers who share a common language, faith, and family network, and yet remain separated by vicissitudes of the Great Game, the 19th-century conflict between the British Empire and Czarist Russia. Ethnomusicologist Richard Wolf has been contemplating the rupture that exists across this divide in “Two Poets and a River,” a film in progress about poet-singers Qurbonsho in Tajikistan and Daulatsho in Afghanistan.’
Buddhist Digital Resource Center ‘(formerly Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center) is dedicated to preserving and sharing Buddhist texts through the union of technology and scholarship.
Hiyama, Satomi. 2020. “Transmission of the ‘World’: Sumeru Cosmology as Seen in Central Asian Buddhist Paintings Around 500 AD.” NTM Zeitschrift für Geschichte der Wissenschaften, Technik und Medizin. from the abstract: ‘This paper considers the process of how the image of Mount Sumeru, the axis mundi of the Indian Buddhist cosmology, was transmitted from the Indo-Iranian cultural sphere to the Chinese cultural sphere in the fifth and sixth centuries. The research focus is mainly on the representations of Mt. Sumeru in the wall paintings of two monumental Buddhist sites from this period, the Kizil Grottoes (Kucha) and the Mogao Grottoes (Dunhuang), with reference to a relevant image in the Yungang Grottoes (Datong).’
Meinert, Carmen and Henrik H. Sørensen, ed., 2020. Buddhism in Central Asia I—Patronage, Legitimation, Sacred Space, and Pilgrimage. Leiden: Brill.
Scott, Gregory Adam. 2020. Building the Buddhist Revival: Reconstructing Monasteries in Modern China. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Yü, Chün-fang. 2020. Chinese Buddhism: A Thematic History. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Asian Iconographic Resources: a database: ‘This site, “Asian Iconographic Resources” aims to provide a wide range of the information about religious art in Asian countries for those who are interested in them academically.’
Arjana, Sophia Rose. 2020. Buying Buddha, Selling Rumi. How Eastern religions are commodified in the modern world, and why it matters. London: Oneworld Publications. For an expanded discussion, see the author’s essay in The Maydan.
Silk in History – several Open Access articles on the topic via Cambridge Core at
Wired China: Digital Media and Online Culture: Workshop at the Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies of the University of Zurich, November 27-28 (this was a call for papers which has since closed but keep an eye out for workshop news).
Wade, Geoff. 2020. “Zheng He and Ming China’s Voyages in the Early 15th Century.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Asian History. 29 May. 2020.
Schöneweiß, Feng He. 2020. ‘Is Art History of China Useless in a Pandemic?’ British Journal of Chinese Studies, Volume 10.
Yan, Y., K. Dean, C.C. Feng, G.T. Hue, K.H. Koh, L. Kong, C.W. Ong, A. Tay, Y.C. Wang, and Y. Xue. 2020. “Chinese Temple Networks in Southeast Asia: A WebGIS Digital Humanities Platform for the Collaborative Study of the Chinese Diaspora in Southeast Asia.” Religions 11(7): 334.
Jenco, L.K., and J. Chappell. 2020. “Overlapping Histories, Co-produced Concepts: Imperialism in Chinese Eyes.” The Journal of Asian Studies 1-22.
Harris, R., Guangtian Ha, and M. Jaschok. 2020. Ethnographies of Islam in China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
The TAPESTRY project is working in three different ‘patches’ across India and Bangladesh, creating opportunities for interactions with communities in marginalised environments to co-produce transformative change in sustainable development. In this blog post, Lyla Mehta (IDS), Mihir Bhatt (AIDMI) and Pankaj Joshi (Sahjeevan) introduce the research that TAPESTRY is undertaking together with the Kutch camel breeder association Kutch Unt Ucherak Maldhari Sangathan (KUUMS).
Faraz, Shabina. 2020. “Surging glacier creates lake, floods Pakistan valley: Danger of another flood as water continues to flow from the lake in Hunza valley in northern Pakistan.” thethirdpole.net 12 June 2020.
Lustgarten, Abrahm. 2020. “Where Will Everyone Go?” ‘ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, with support from the Pulitzer Center, have for the first time modeled how climate refugees might move across international borders. This is what we found.’
Uprety, Aastha. 2020. “Grazing Disputes in Kyrgyzstan Reveal Pasture Access Concerns for Herders.” 1 July 2020, Glacierhub Blog, State of the Planet, Earth Institute, Columbia University.
Chernokulsky, A., M. Kurgansky, I. Mokhov, A. Shikhov, I. Azhigov. E. Selezneva, D. Zakharchenko, B. Antonescu, and T. Kühne. 2020. “Tornadoes in Northern Eurasia: From the Middle Age to the Information Era.” Monthly Weather Review 148, 3081–3110.
by Kim TE WINKLE