Silk Road Imaginaries


Comparative Perspectives on Chinese Culture and Society




This conference will bring scholars of medieval and late imperial China into dialogue with scholars working on the cultures traditionally associated with the Silk Road in order to theorize premodern representations of the transregional circulation of commodities and concepts. Our aim is to uncover how people imagined these exchanges prior to the conceptualization of the Silk Road in the nineteenth century. What kinds of narratives were constructed around these exchanges and how did they vary across time, space, genre, and media? How were these exchanges invested with symbolic meaning, integrated into existing cosmologies, or marshaled for political ends? And was there ever a sense that these exchanges were part of a coherent system comparable to the modern concept of a Silk Road?