About this Project

In the first millennium CE, regions in the interstices of the Mediterranean, the Near East, and East and South Asia gave rise to political elites, merchants, and religious specialists that stimulated far-reaching political, economic, and cultural change across Eurasia. Locations such as Arabia, Gandhara, or Semirechie were once peripheral places that eventually became central with societies as complex as the traditional civilizational centers, whose study scholarly disciplines continue to privilege. The Imperial Interstices project aims to bring scholars of the remarkable philological and archaeological discoveries emerging from the places in between into conversation with faculty in Near Eastern studies, Classics, East Asian studies, and South Asian studies, with a view to advancing the field of premodern global history at the University of Chicago. If these regions have generally been regarded as passive corridors transmitting nomadic raiders, silk, or religious ideas, the project places the emphasis on the agency of interstitial societies. Recent work has demonstrated the complexity of the political orders of Hun and Turk nomads, the economic networks of the Sogdian and Indian Ocean merchants, and the religious cultures of Buddhist, Manichaean, and Christian specialists. And yet scholars of these phenomena typically work in isolation not only from one another, but also from their counterparts in other disciplines. The project will foster the collaborative work needed to produce an integrated history of a Eurasian late antiquity.


Whitney Cox on David Shulman’s “Tamil”

March 6, 2017

Faculty Fellow Whitney Cox, a principal investigator on the Imperial Interstices project, reviews David Shulman's Tamil, a "biography" of one of the world's oldest languages. "Gently humorous, frequently lyrical, and wearing great learning very lightly, the book’s prose admirably summons up what it might be like to listen to a series of lectures by a gifted teacher," Cox writes in The New York Review of Books.

New Neubauer Collegium projects to explore complex human questions

February 9, 2016

The Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society has selected 12 new collaborative research projects that unite leading scholars from the University of Chicago and beyond to explore novel approaches to complex human questions.

-- UChicago News by Susie Allen


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