Nicola Di Cosmo on Climate, History, and Nomadic Empires

January 24, 2022
Nicola Di Cosmo

Professor Nicola Di Cosmo, the Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies at Princeton, USA, presented this talk at Duke University on January 20, 2022.

For over two thousand years powerful political formations have emerged from the Eurasian steppes. From bringing down dynasties and empires to continent-wide migrations, and to the spread of religions, trade and technology, the deep traces left by nomadic empires in world history are yet to be fully appreciated. By investigating historical cases ranging from the early medieval to the early modern period, this talk examined the interaction between climate variability, environmental change and pastoral economy to reveal political and economic mechanisms behind the extraordinary success of nomad empires, as well as their fragility and vulnerability. These studies also illustrate possible uses of climatic and environmental data in historical research, and related methodological questions.

The event was moderated by Prasenjit Duara, Oscar L. Tang Family Distinguished Professor of East Asian Studies at Duke University, and Dr. Yuan Chen, a Postdoctoral Associate at Duke University's Franklin Humanities Institute & Global Asia Initiative.

This event was organized by the Global Asia Initiative (GAI) and the Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI).

Watch the full recording of the event.