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Centers and Peripheries in East Asia

Scholars of East Asia are familiar with China's claim to centrality in its name Zhongguo, meaning "Middle Kingdom."  China has been an important cultural center in East Asia, and other countries in the region have developed their own cultural, political, and economic centers as well.  These centers are defined in relation to peripheries, namely the geographic or metaphorical spaces that lie far from institutional power, such as the far north in Japan and the far west in China. The faculty research seminar "Centers and Peripheries in East Asia" explores how people in East Asia have conceived of centers and peripheries in different time periods and regions. Centers and peripheries – both geographical and metaphorical – lack stability synchronically, in the sense that they are relative and do not have fixed meanings:  one person's center can be another person's periphery.  They also lack stability from a diachronic perspective in that centers and peripheries change over time.  Examining the processes by which people construct centers and peripheries allows us to develop new ways of thinking about what is "central" in the study of East Asia, and to create new kinds of knowledge rather than merely reinforce received knowledge.


  • Book Discussion
    In the Land of the Eastern Queendom: The Politics of Gender and Ethnicity on the Sino-Tibetan Border, by Tenzin Jinba
    Tuesday, September 23, 2014 – 4:00-5:00 pm
    Humanities Center, E102 Melrose Hall
  • Works-in-Progress Discussion
    Megan Bryson, University of Tennessee
    "Goddess at the Crossroads"
    Tuesday, October 14, 4:00-5:00 pm
    Humanities Center, E102 Melrose Hall
  • Book Discussion
    Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History, by Nicola Di Cosmo 
    Monday, November 10, 1:30-3:00 pm (tentative)
    Humanities Center, E102 Melrose Hall
  • Nicola Di Cosmo
    Institute for Advanced Study
    "Climate Change Research and the History of Nomads: New Answers to old Questions?"
    Monday, November 10, 4:00 pm
    Room 1210-1211, McClung Tower
  • Works-in-Progress Discussion
    Charles Sanft, University of Tennessee
    Title TBA
    Tuesday, December 2, 4:00-5:00 pm
    Humanities Center, E102 Melrose Hall
  • Book Discussion
    The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China's Collective Past by Gail Hershatter
    (with the author present)
    Wednesday, March 25, 2015 – 2:30-3:30 pm
    Humanities Center, F203 Melrose Hall (second floor)
  • James Anderson
    Associate Professor of History
    University of North Carolina, Greensboro
    "Sino-Vietnamese Relations: The Southern Imperial Frontier in the Song Dynasty"
    Thursday, April 2, 2015, 4:00-5:00 pm
    Room 605, Hodges Library 
  • Book Discussion
    Geographies of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Japan by David Howell
    Tuesday, April 21, 2015 –4:00-5:00 pm
    Humanities Center, E102 Melrose Hall

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