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Central Asia and Tibet I

Workshop with Federica Venturi, visiting scholar in the Department of Anthropology

Thursday, February 20, 2020
6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
11372 Bunche Hall

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The aim of this workshop is to provide a glimpse of the various cultural
exchanges that might occur among the various ethnic and social groups that gravitated
around the Silk Road: Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongols, Chinese, Persians, Turks, but also
travellers, merchants, pilgrims, bards, and soldiers, often speaking multiple languages
and practicing different religions. This inquiry into the multiple aspects of transmission
of knowledge along the Silk Route will be conducted through the examination of
PT1283, a Tibetan manuscript from Dunhuang which purports to narrate the travels of
five Uyghur envoys, sent by their king to investigate neighboring people.

Partly an anthropological manual and partly a mythological account, the
manuscript provides coeval information - even though not always first hand - on many
populations and tribal groups living in Central and Eastern Asia around the 8th century
CE. However, it also presents many different conundrums: how many routes are exactly
described in it? How are these routes separated? Where did the envoys depart from? And,
can we recognize the various groups they are describing from the often cryptic
descriptions? During this workshop, Dr. Venturi will present a short overview of the historical context, which will be followed by a reading and discussion of the text (translated into English) as a group.

RSVP IS REQUIRED. Pizza and refreshments will be served.

This is the first meeting of a two-part workshop series. Part II will be held on Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 6:00 PM. It
will discuss Tibet as a pivotal component of the Great Game played between Russia and Great Britain for predominance in Central Asia in the 19th century.

Federica Venturi is a researcher at the CRCAO, CNRS in Paris and a visiting scholar in the Anthropology Department at UCLA for the 2019-2020 academic year. Her work centers around various aspects of Tibetan history, including the sanctioning of violence for political reasons by Tibetan Buddhist hierarchs and how the relation between politics, economics and religion affected the history of holy places in Tibet. She has published several articles and a monograph on Tibetan holy places, as well as articles on different aspects of the Tibetan army. In addition to her contributions on the history of the Tibetan army, she is working on a history of the monastery of Sa skya.

The Central Asia Workshop is an interdisciplinary discussion group sponsored by the UCLA Program on Central Asia. The goal of the workshop is to encourage graduate student research on Central Asia by creating a space where students and interested faculty can discuss research, theory and ideas with others who have experience or interest in the region. The workshop is a forum for exploring recent research and classical and contemporary theoretical perspectives that inform work in Central Asia. Weekly discussions are led by members on a rotating basis, and topics are determined by group interests.

For information about joining the Central Asia Workshop, contact the organizers at caw@international.ucla.edu.

The workshop is open to graduate students, faculty, and researchers. RSVP is required.