Nomads and Climate in Chinese History: Scientific Arguments and New Perspectives

Nomads and Climate in Chinese History: Scientific Arguments and New Perspectives

Nicola Di Cosmo - Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian History, Institute for Advanced Study School of Historical Studies

Monday, October 20, 2014 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm
Room 203, Henry R. Luce Hall See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06520

Ideas that climatic events were behind the appearance of nomads as raiders and conquerors of settled lands have been around for a long time.  Unfortunately, historical records are seldom direct in linking cause and effect, and such theories remained highly speculative. Recent advances in historical climatology and other applications of modern science to the past are changing that picture.  But does the input of science produce better history, or just a different version of it? This question will be discussed in relation to the history of nomadic conquests of China and in particular to the rise of the Mongol empire.

Nicola Di Cosmo is the Henry Luce Foundation Professor of East Asian History in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), which he joined in 2003. His main areas of research are the relations between China and Central Asia from ancient times to the modern period, the history of foreign dynasties in China, and, more generally, frontier relations seen from archaeological, anthropological, and historical perspectives. Recently he has also published on climate change and the Mongol empire. Before joining the Institute for Advanced studies he was a Research Fellow at Cambridge University and taught at Harvard University (1993-99) and at the University of Canterbury (New Zealand, 1999-2003). He has written on Inner Asian history, Chinese history, and military history and he is the author and co-author of several books, including Ancient China and Its Enemies: The Rise of Nomadic Power in East Asian History (2002), A Documentary History of Manchu-Mongol Relations (1616-1626) (2003), and Diary of a Manchu Soldier in Seventeenth-Century China (2006). He also edited or co-edited several books including Warfare in Inner Asian History, 500-1800 (2002), Political Frontiers, Ethnic Boundaries and Human Geographies in Chinese History (2001) and Military Culture in Imperial China (2009, A Choice Outstanding Academic Title). 

China, Transregional, Mongolia