Berke­leyBranstad opens first cen­ter to push for in US on study of Silk Road pos­i­tive US-China re­la­tions

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEI­HUA in­Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia Berke­ley has opened the first in­sti­tu­tion­al­ized cen­ter in the United States ded­i­cated to the study of the Silk Road, the an­cient trade route that linked China with the West.

Named the P.Y. and Kin­may W. Tang Cen­ter for Silk Road Stud­ies, it was launched on AprilTerry29 with­Branstad,a$5 mil­lion­thenom­i­neegift bynom­i­neet­wofor USbranch­esam­bas­sado­rofthe to­fam­i­lyChiid of Chi­ne­seChi­idh Amer­i­canh phi­lan­thropisthi Os­car Tang.

The bene­fac­tors are Tang and his wife, Dr Agnes Hsu-Tang, who are based in New York City, and Bay Area Berke­ley alumni Na­dine Tang and Leslie Tang Schilling, with their brother Martin Tang in Hong Kong.

Os­car Tang and his ar­chae­ol­o­gist wife founded the Tang Cen­ter for Early China at Columbia Univer­sity in 2015. In 2003, he founded the first Tang cen­ter for ex­cel­lence in Chinese Hu­man­i­ties, the P.Y. and Kin­may W. Tang Cen­ter for East Asian Art at Prince­ton Univer­sity in 2003.

Os­car Tang be­lieves that the new Tang Cen­ter at Berke­ley is “part of my fam­ily’s on­go­ing ef­fort to en­hance knowl­edge and un­der­stand­ing of the great Chinese civ­i­liza­tion and its re­la­tion­ship to the rest of the world,” ac­cord­ing to a press re­lease from the univer­sity.

The cen­ter will pro­mote “the re­search and teach­ing of the ma­te­rial and vis­ual cul­tures that flour­ished along the Silk Road and formed a bridge be­tween the many eco­nomic epi­cen­ters of Eura­sia and China. A better un­der­stand­ing of the Silk Road’s his­tory will also help con­tex­tu­al­ize its emer­gent geopo­lit­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance in the present time,’’ the press re­lease said.

San­jyot Me­hen­dale, the cen­ter’s in­au­gu­ral chair and a lec­turer of Cen­tral Asian art and ar­chae­ol­ogy at Berke­ley, said the cen­ter will pro­mote the mul­ti­dis­ci­plinary col­lab­o­ra­tion nec­es­sary for Silk Road re­search.

“It’s about com­ing to­gether and por­ing over ma­te­rial from dif­fer­ent sides,” she said. “You can’t just sit in your cor­ner of ex­per­tise. You have to look at the art, you have to study the texts, you have to ex­am­ine the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­mains, to build a big­ger pic­ture. The more we un­der­stand the his­tory of the re­gion, in par­tic­u­lar Cen­tral Asia, the more it will res­onate as a place, as cul­tures, as peo­ple,” she said.

The cen­ter will fund field­work and fel­low­ships for fac­ulty and stu­dents at ex­ca­va­tions, mu­se­ums and archives; or­ga­nize con­fer­ences and work­shops to bring dis­tin­guished schol­ars to cam­pus to share re­cent dis­cov­er­ies and re­search; ad­vance teach­ing on Silk Road top­ics; foster vis­it­ing scholar exchanges; sup­port open-source pub­li­ca­tions; and pro­mote the train­ing and outreach of K-12 teach­ers and community col­lege in­struc­tors.

UC Berke­ley is a nat­u­ral site for a cen­ter ded­i­cated to study­ing the Silk Road be­cause it is home to a di­verse group of schol­ars who are spe­cial­ists in the lan­guages, his­tory, re­li­gions, in­tel­lec­tual and artis­tic tra­di­tions of the an­cient civ­i­liza­tions of China, Cen­tral Asia and the Near East, the univer­sity said.

PEG SKORPINSKI / UC BERKE­LEY

Iowa Gov­er­nor Terry Branstad (cen­ter) pre­pares for a Sen­ate com­mit­tee hear­ing on Tues­day on his con­fir­ma­tion as US

The P.Y. and Kin­may W. Tang Cen­ter for Silk Road Stud­ies opened on April 29 at UC Berke­ley. From left: Na­dine Tang, Leslie Schilling, San­jyot Me­hen­dale, the cen­ter’s chair; Corinne De­baine-Franc­fort of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Sci­en­tific Re­search in France; Agnes Hsu-Tang and Os­car Tang.

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