Subject: The symposium will bring together scholars who have recently contributed to the historiography of the Maritime Silk Roads, with a focus on the pre-modern and pre-colonial periods (700–1400 CE). Through an emphasis on knowledge transmission and the role of material culture, the symposium will challenge traditional accounts based on the primacy of trade and diplomacy. This will also provide a broad platform for comparisons with the better-known Central Asian routes and the respective cultural entanglements.
The exchange in ideas, technologies, and artistic styles that led to the construction of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Borobudur in Java was unprecedented in both its scale and impact. Much progress has been made since early theorisations involving problematic notions such as ‘Greater India’ or the ‘Indianised States’ of Southeast Asia. This has led to a new appreciation for the connected and yet highly creative character of the ‘local genius’. The focus has also shifted from traditional historiography focussing on royal centres to a more nuanced understanding of agency, mobility, and the key role of ‘peripheries’. Nevertheless, much remains to be done, including in terms of unveiling entanglements within a wider geographical area (including China and the wider Indian Ocean), as well as ‘transitional’ moments such as the rise of Islam and Theravāda Buddhism in Southeast Asia.
Call for proposals: a limited number of slots is open for paper proposals that aim to discuss cutting-edge paradigms for redefining our understanding of the phenomena forming the broad intellectual agenda of the symposium. A focus on specific case studies and/or regions is welcome, provided that these are positioned in the broader context of Silk Roads studies, as well as global mediaeval studies. Proposals, including a working title and a ca. 250–300 word abstract, as well as the author’s current affiliation, should be sent simultaneously to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. The authors of accepted abstracts will be notified by April 15.
Expenses: two nights’ accommodation and catering in Cambridge will be covered by the organizing institutions. Travel costs will be reimbursed only up to 300 GBP; participants from outside the UK and the EU are expected to cover their travel costs, or participate in the symposium remotely.
Proceedings: we are planning to publish contributions presented during the conference, as well as some invited contributions, in an edited volume or journal special issue. Submission of papers is expected by the first quarter of 2024.