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CANCELLED – China, Inner Asian Empires, and Climate: Plugging Science into History from a Historian’s Perspective

April 16, 2020 @ 5:00 pm - 7:30 pm

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Weatherhead East Asian Institute Event

Please join us for a lecture with:

Nicola Di Cosmo, Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian History,

Institute for Advanced Study

Moderated by:

Gray Tuttle, Leila Hadley Luce Professor of Modern Tibetan Studies,

Columbia University

Three decades of climatological research in Mongolia and neighboring regions have transformed our knowledge about the environmental history of Inner Asian empires. The processes that gave rise to these political formations, many of which have played a distinct and crucial role in Chinese history, are still very poorly understood. High-resolution climatic reconstructions, when placed in historical contexts, provide clues about the nomads’ responses to climatic variability, and thus illuminate critical nexuses between economic production, social structures, and political change. By illustrating a range of representative historical cases studies, this lecture will explore both the nature of the data and the methods that historians and climatologists have adopted to gauge the impact of climate upon pre-modern nomadic peoples


About the Speaker:

Nicola Di Cosmo received his Ph.D. from the Department of Uralic and Altaic Studies (now Central Eurasian Studies) at Indiana University in 1991, and held research and teaching positions at the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, and the University of Canterbury (New Zealand) before joining the Institute for Advanced Study in 2003. His main field of research is the history of the relations between China and Inner Asia from prehistory to the modern period. Within that broad area he has published on the early history of China’s relations with steppe nomads (e.g., Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Powers in East Asian History, 2002) and on Mongol and Manchu history (e.g., Manchu-Mongol Relations on the Eve of the Qing Conquest, 2003), and he has edited several books, including Military Culture in Imperial China (2009) and The Cambridge History of Inner Asia (2009). His most recent works explore the use of proxy data from climatology and other palaeosciences in the study of the history of China and Central Asia, with special reference to early Eurasian nomads, the Mongol empire, and the Qing dynasty.


This is a Lectures and Panels Event.

Registration Required. Please register here.



April 16, 2020

5:00 PM-6:30 PM Lecture

6:30 PM-7:30 PM Reception



The Italian Academy, Library

1161 Amsterdam Ave


For press inquiries, please contact Ariana King ak4364@columbia.edu.

Cosponsors: Modern Tibet Studies Program, Department of History, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures


April 16, 2020
5:00 pm - 7:30 pm
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