By Rohini Thakkar
On November 1st, Duke welcomed Professor James Anderson, Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro to lead a talk on China’s Southwest Silk Road.
Anderson took us on an engaging historical journey on the famed trade route with striking imagery. The talk was perfectly timed with the U.S. President embarking on a 5 nation tour of Asia, including China, on November 3rd. He took us down history lane from the end of the Han dynasty in the 3rd Century BCE through Marco Polo in the 13th century CE to the 1963 discovery of Cui Chengsi’s tomb.
Along the way, we learned about the ascent of the Cuan clan and how its influence persisted over centuries. It was fascinating to hear Anderson talk about the rich history of southwest China and its frontier people. It was interesting to learn how the depiction of history can be reexamined in a new light and how ethnographic study offers useful new approaches to handling historical documents like maps and court records.
Anderson's talk was sponsored by the John Hope Franklin Center and the Duke Global Asia Initiative.