Civilizing the South: Colonialism and Cultural Changes in Han Times
Time: Friday, Feb. 28th, 2020 3:30-5:30PM
Location: Rome Hall 459 801, 22nd St NW, Washington, DC 20052
Light refreshments will be served.
This event is co-sponsored by the Department of East Asian Language and Literatures and the East Asia National Resource Center.
Speaker: Professor Erica Fox Brindley, Professor of Asian Studies, Penn State University
Abstract: Empires and their magisterial roles in history have long sparked the imaginations of scholars, artists, and writers. European legacies have impressed upon us the deep significance of Ancient Rome and its imperial influences throughout the ages and throughout the Western world. Most of us know of faraway places along the northern frontier of the Roman world, such as London, Cologne, and Paris, and we also have a sense of the diversity of the region and how different the cultures that inhabited it might have been from their imperialistic Roman neighbors to the South. But when it comes to the faraway, frontier regions of the Han empire, we draw a blank: who were the peoples of the northern and southern frontiers on the East Asian mainland, and what were their cultures like in comparison to those from the ancient Central States regions around the Yellow River regions? What did the colonial cities and outposts along the borders look like, and how did they differ from each other and the great cities, including the capital, closer to the center of the empire? Was everyday life changed significantly for peoples living in the outer regions of early empires, or did the penetration and transformation of Sinitic languages and cultures in these outer regions occur on a much larger time-scale than the Han? Prof. Brindley’s talk addresses these questions through an inquiry into the civilizing missions along the ancient southern frontier. It revisits issues concerning imperial reach and colonialism, and sheds light on what we can know about Han control and the limited extent of cultural change in this period.