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 Chola History

July 30, 2017

In this Q&A with the Times of India, Associate Professor Whitney Cox (South Asian Languages and Civilizations ), a Faculty Fellow on our Imperial Interstices research project, shares his insights on social, economic, and political relations in the Chola kingdom during the reign of Kulottunga Chola (1070-1120 AD).

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.


There are no events associated with this project yet.