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Dialog, Understanding, & Tolerance: Lessons from Asia, Past & Present

This symposium hosted by the Ohio State University MCLC Resource Center, will bring together speakers from various disciplines and regional specializations to discuss how cultures from Beijing to Samarkand and from Lahore to Hyderabad have found ways of fostering vibrantly multicultural, pluralistic, tolerant, and resilient societies.

April 29, 2017 9:00am to 2:15pm

In the venerable Jesuit tradition of facilitating dialog among different faiths and peoples, this symposium brings together speakers from various disciplines and regional specializations to discuss how cultures from Beijing to Samarkand and from Lahore to Hyderabad have found ways of fostering vibrantly multicultural, pluralistic, tolerant, and resilient societies. In that vast region where nearly half of all humanity resides, the universal human desire for mutual understanding has produced wisdom, harmony, and—last but definitely not least—mesmerizingly beautiful music. In this era when multiculturalism is under assault, including by the ultranationalists now ensconced in the White House, we hope this symposium will contribute to the ongoing dialog over how to make our world more equitable and harmonious for everyone.

Schedule of Events

9:00-9:20 Tea (yamcha 飲茶 dim sum) and Coffee
9:20-9:30 Opening Remarks
9:30-10:30 Pluralism and the Sinosphere, ca. 950-1950
Johan Elverskog, Cosmopolitan Uyghur Buddhists in World History
HU Minghui, Qu Qiubai (1899–1935) & Cosmopolitan Intellectuals in the  Early 20th Century
SUN Jiang, Muhammad Amin Bughra’s Submission to the Nationalist Government During the Sino-Japanese War
10:40-11:20 Local Pluralisms & Cosmopolites, ca. 2015
Lesley Turnbull, A Hui Muslim Township in Yunnan
ZHANG Yanshuo, From Guardians of National Heritage  to Entrepreneurs of the Ethnic Imagination and the Construction of Contemporary Qiang Identity
11:30-12:10 Political & Cultural Multiplicity in South Asia
Taymiya Zaman, Multiple Identities of the Mughal Empire
Rohini Ramkrishnan, Partition At 70: The 1947 Partition Archive
Conclusion: Lessons from Asia for Trump’s America
12:30-1:15 Lunch (served on-site)
1:15-2:15 Uyghur Flamenco Performance by Mr. Erkin Abdulla
Johan Elverskog is the Altshuler University Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, and the author of numerous books and articles about multiple historical interactions across Asia.
HU Minghui is Associate Professor of History at UC Santa Cruz, a former research fellow at the Ricci Institute at USF, and the author most recently of an acclaimed study of Jesuit science in China, China’s Transition to Modernity: The New Classical Vision of Dai Zhen.
Rohini Ramkrishnan manages the Oral History Program at the 1947 Partition Archive, an initiative dedicated to documenting the people’s history of the Partition of South Asia. So far, over 3,000 stories have been preserved on digital video from 320 cities in 12 countries across the world.
SUN Jiang is the Changjiang Professor of History at Nanjing University, a renowned expert in modern China’s cultural and sociopolitical relations with its neighbors, and the author of many books and articles in Chinese, Japanese, and English.
Lesley Turnbull is an anthropologist who has taught at NYU, and is currently the Kiriyama Postdoctoral Fellow at USF’s Center for Asia-Pacific Studies. Her research destabilizes both “Islam” and “China” as totalizing, monolithic forces that impose identities and practices on the peoples who participate in those worlds.
Taymiya Zaman is Associate Professor of History at USF. An authority on the Mughal Period, her current research interests include historical memory in South Asia, the interconnectedness of life writing and history, and the transition from subjects to citizens in the Islamicate world.
Yanshuo ZHANG is a Ph.D. candidate in East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford. Her dissertation on the Qiang ethnic group examines the role of cultural imagination, including the reinterpretation of canonical Chinese literary and historiographical writings by minority scholars, in encouraging the formation of new ethnic identities and challenging formerly entrenched cultural hierarchies.
Erkin Abdulla: On any given weekend in China you can find a Uyghur band playing flamenco. It has not always been this way. It wasn’t until the late 1990s that a young man from Qarghiliq in Kashgar prefecture discovered Turkish variations of Spanish flamenco. Over the next decade that man, Erkin Abdulla, along other early flamenco guitarists such as Qehirman and Tursun introduced flamenco to the Uyghur world.
Today it seems to be everywhere. Young Uyghur men with long flowing hair clap out the music of Andalusia from Ürümchi to Beijing. Many times this music is fused with the sounds of Sufi music and dance from the deserts of Southern Xinjiang; often it reflects the phrasing and compositional styles of the Muqam – a form of classical Islamic music and dance performance which is a source of immense pride for many Uyghurs.  Erkin, perhaps more than any other contemporary artist, is seen as embodying an “interlocking” (kirishmaq) of Uyghur forms of performance into the romance of the flamenco guitar. When one asks about cosmopolitan Uyghur artists, the universal answer is Erkin. They will tell you about how he studied in Spain and the Beijing Music Conservatory, how his wife is of Manchu descent, how much he knows about jazz and bossa nova. (From Darren Byler, “Uyghur Flamenco and “World Citizenship”)
Free and Open to the Public