International Conference: From the Silk to the Book Road(s)

International Conference: From the Silk to the Book Road(s): Networks of Commerce, Artifacts, and Books Between Central and East Asia

September 21-23, 2018; Berkeley, California, USA

Schedule Panelists Abstracts Gallery

The FROGBEAR project at the University of British Columbia, with the assistance of the Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, cordially invites proposals for an international conference on “From the Silk to the Book Road(s): Networks of Commerce, Artifacts, and Books Between Central and East Asia” to be held between September 21-23, 2018, in Berkeley, California. The conference is made possible with generous support from the Liuzu Temple based in Guangzhou, China.

Silk may be the most famous commodity once traded across numerous land and sea routes that linked China to the west, but the trade of Buddhist—and other religious—texts, books, images, and ritual implements from India, Central Asia, and East Asia is much better documented in premodern sources, and the flow of exchange was multidirectional. As early as the eighth-century through the late nineteenth, there is tantalizing evidence of a book road—or trade—between eastern Chinese ports and Nagasaki, Japan. This conference explores the trans-cultural, multi-ethnic, and cross-regional networks of the exchange of commerce, texts, books, rituals, and objects along the Silk Road(s) that connected China to points south and west, and back again across the East and South China Seas with Korea, Japan, and Southeast Asia.

Topics for this conference include, but are not limited to:

  • Studies of manuscripts, printed texts, and/or epigraphy preserved along the Silk Road(s) in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Khotanese, Tangut, and so forth, with special consideration of textual production and/or preservation;
  • Studies of Buddhist or religious literature (printed texts, manuscripts, and/or epigraphy), rituals, performances, and sacred spaces tied to networks of exchange in Central and East Asia;
  • Various patterns of interactions between different religious traditions and the narratives of the Silk and Book Road(s);
  • Studies of the exchange and/or production of particular manuscripts or printed books (codicology) in Central and East Asia;
  • Presence of and interactions between different Buddhist traditions (Chan, Tiantai, Pure-land, Vinaya, Esotericism, Tibetan Buddhism, etc.) along the Silk and/or Book Road(s);
  • Political and military uses of commerce, texts, books, rituals, and objects exchanged along the Silk and/or Book Road(s);
  • Studies of narratives connected to or engendered by singular or multiple sites along the Silk or Book Road(s);
  • Premodern and modern uses of the Silk and Book Road(s) to construct multiple religious, cultural, or different identities;
  • Studies of imagination and perceptions of the Silk and/or Book Road(s) in South, Central, and East Asian countries and regions beyond China;
  • Sites along the Silk and/or Book Road(s) as models for other sacred sites (including sacred mountains, temples, and shrines) mentioned in scriptures or religious literature “cloned” in elsewhere in Asia (Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and Central Asia);
  • Narratives of networks of exchange along the Silk and Book Road(s) not in religious literature.

The organizing committee welcomes paper proposals related to any aspect(s) of the multidisciplinary, inter-cultural, and cross-regional networks of exchange across the Silk and Book Road(s). All conference-related costs, including, local transportation, meals and accommodation during the conference period, will be covered by the conference organizers, who—depending on availability of funding—may also provide a travel subsidy to selected panelists who are in need of funding. Interested scholars are invited to email proposals and CVs to by April 15, 2018.

A conference volume will collect all the papers in English, plus the English translations of several papers written in non-English languages; a Chinese volume, to be published in China, will include the Chinese versions for all non-Chinese papers in addition to those papers contributed by our colleagues based in China. Only scholars who are confident in finishing their draft papers by the end of August and publishable papers by the end of 2018 are encouraged to apply.