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Earth and Fire: Sustaining Life and Art on the Silk Road

The Pacific Basin Institute presents a talk with Susan Whitfield.

October 15, 2008 12:00am

Time: 4:15 – 5:30 p.m. (followed by reception)
The yellow earth in China’s historical heart is a potent symbol for the country. Long a source of life and art, during the 1980s it was, however, portrayed as indicative of China’s backwardness in the documentary series ‘Heshang’ and, more ambivalently, in Zhang Yimou’s ‘Yellow Earth’. Dividing the people of the plains with their abundant yellow earth from the peoples of the steppes with their sparse black earth it also symbolizes a boundary between the settled and the nomad. In this illustrated talk, Susan Whitfield will question these boundaries and consider an alternative story, where peoples, their culture and their art migrate and mix, just like the earth around them.
Susan Whitfield is an historian of the Silk Road and China. Director of the International Dunhuang Project ( at the British Library, she has traveled and written widely on the Silk Road, its history, historiography and art.
Organized by the Pacific Basin Institute; made possible by the R. Stanton Avery Lecture Fund.