Climate Variability and Steppe Empires: New Findings and Future Directions
Nicola Di Cosmo, Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian History, Institute for Advanced Study; Associate Member at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University
Moderated by: Gray Tuttle, Leila Hadley Luce Professor of Modern Tibetan Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, 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.
This event is cosponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, the Modern Tibetan Studies Program, the Department of History, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.