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The Roads to Oxiana: The Writing of Travel at the Crossroads of Asia

Central Asia Initiative International Conference

Tuesday, November 09, 2010
9:30 AM - 4:00 PM
6275 Bunche Hall
Los Angeles, CA 90095

From the medieval Divisament dou monde of Marco Polo to the modernist prose of Robert Byron’s The Road to Oxiana, Central Asia has been made known to the wider world through the medium of travel writing. To examine how the same space was represented in the languages and literary traditions of the many peoples who passed through it, this conference turns to travel accounts in Persian and Urdu as well as Chinese and English. At a time when Central Asia is increasingly drawn into political affairs at a global level, these travel writings allow us to map an earlier geopolitics that ranged from Qing Chinese empire builders to African-American Marxists. Through the polyglottal prose penned at the crossroads of Asia, the travelogues under discussion trace distinct stages of global connectivity by drawing together the age of camel caravans and horsemen with that of motor cars and airplanes. Focusing on little-known texts of literary and ethnographic no less than historical interest, the presenters explore the different meanings given to Central Asia in the far corners of the world.




Coffee and Introductions



Panel I: Early Modern Travels

Chair: Richard Strassberg, UCLA

Sanjay Subrahmanyam, UCLA
Early Modern Travel and the Question of Patriotism between the Oxus and the Krishna

Arash Khazeni, UCLA
Through an Ocean of Sand: Persianate Travel Writing and the Equestrian Culture of the Eurasian Steppe

Laura Hostetler, Univ. of Illinois, Chicago
Central Asians in the Qing Illustrations of Tributary Peoples



Panel II Post/Colonial Travels

Chair: Ali Behdad, UCLA

Nile Green, UCLA
The Afghan Afterlife of Phileas Fogg: Space and Time in the Afghan Travelogue

Kate Teltscher, Roehampton Univ.
The Rubicon between the Empires: The River Oxus in Nineteenth-century British Geographical Imagination

David Chioni Moore, Macalester College
An Afro-Planetary View of Central Asia: Langston Hughes's Writings, 1932-1956


Please rsvp to

Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Asia Institute, Center for India and South Asia, Program on Central Asia, Comparative Literature

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