"Beyond the Bamiyan Buddhas: Archaeology and History in the Modern and Ancient Persianate World" is an upcoming 2-day conference to be held at UCLA and UC Irvine on November 8 and 9, 2012.
by Jonathan McCollum
Beyond the Bamiyan Buddhas: Archaeology and History in the Modern and Ancient Persianate World, an upcoming 2-day conference to be held at UCLA and UC Irvine on November 8 and 9, 2012, will assemble renowned international scholars to showcase the forefront of archeological and historical research on Afghanistan. Co-organizer of the event Nile Green, director of UCLA’s Program on Central Asia, considers the event a significant occasion to develop Central Asian studies on campus.
International experts will gather at the event, sponsored by the UCLA Asia Institute’s Program on Central Asia and the UCI Samuel Jordan Center for Persian Studies and Culture, to draw attention to a historical and archaeological tale that continues to unfold. Narrating the discovery and destruction of an ancient Buddhist past, the conference situates Afghanistan in a more global and comparative perspective in which archaeology and history emerge as crucial instruments for nation building.
Past and present will collide as scholars like Phillipe Marquis, the current director of the French archaeological delegation (DAFA), the first team allowed to excavate in the country during the 1920s, depict the conflict over millennial-old structures pressed into the service of international, national and religious politics. Highlighting the interplay between exaltation and suppression of a remote past, exemplified by the 2001 dynamiting of the Bamiyan Buddhas and the subsequent international outcry, conference presenters will tell how archaeological digs themselves become history and, in some cases, tragedy.
This joint conference of the two UC campuses signals the expansion of Afghan and Central Asian studies in southern California, five years after the establishment of the UCLA Program on Central Asia in 2008. Additional funding for the program is provided by the American Institute of Afghanistan Studies, the Center for Buddhist Studies, the Center for Near Eastern Studies, Center for the Study of Religion, and the Musa Sabi Term Chair in Iranian Studies (2004-2009).