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Please join the Center for East Asian Studies at the University of Chicago (CEAS) for their China Lecture Series featuring Tansen Sen, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Global Asia at NYU Shanghai, and Global Network Professor at NYU, on Thursday, Feburary 4, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. (Central Standard Time).
Professor Sen will be speaking on "Giraffes and Elephants: Circulation of Exotic Animals in the Longue Durée History of the Indian Ocean." Live animals were common forms of gifts exchanged between premodern polities as part of diplomatic overtures or with the intention of establishing/expanding trading relations. Some animals, such as lions, giraffes, and elephants, were considered “exotic” and prestige items; others, including horses, cattle and sheep, served more “useful” purposes in warfare, agriculture, and rituals. Gifting of live animals has continued during the contemporary period, with Chinese pandas as the most prominent object of international diplomacy.
This presentation focuses on the circulation of giraffes in the fifteenth century and that of elephants in the twentieth in order to examine the longue durée phenomenon of transporting live animals through maritime routes and the ensuing reception of exotic animals in host societies. These animals were transported by the sea route and entailed networks of connections that linked maritime and hinterland spaces. By analyzing the procurement, transportation, and reception of these animals, the presentation attempts to contribute to the understanding of interregional animal diplomacy, the issue of transporting live animals by the sea routes, and the role of animals in cross-cultural exchanges and encounters.
To register for this event, please click the Zoom link HERE.
Megumi Kim, Center Administrator