Silk Road Study Nets Major Ford Foundation Grant For Prof. Tansen Sen
New York, NY - Nov. 3, 2008 - A Baruch College history professor is among a team of scholars that has been awarded a $525,000 grant from the Ford Foundation for a four-year project titled "Cross-Cultural Exchanges Along the Unknown (Southern) Silk Road." The ancient road, between China and India, once served as a major trade route between the two countries, but has been closed off since World War II. Now the governments of each country are looking to reopen it. One goal of the project is to examine the potential implications for both countries from an economic, political, cultural and environmental aspect, if the route were to reopen.
Tansen Sen, an Asian history and religions professor, will oversee the translation of 18th century and contemporary books from Chinese into English, and from Indian languages into English. The books, he said, give a unique perspective of topics such as the political and economic interactions between China and India during ancient times as well as during more recent times. Sen said that one of the purposes of the translation is to find out what the two countries thought of each other way back then and now, and "to better understand contemporary and ancient relations between the two countries."
Another component of the four-year project is a summer course for select graduate school students to spend four weeks each in China and India, studying various aspects of the Silk Road. The course is being developed under the auspices of the India-China Institute at The New School for Social Research.
Sen, who has been teaching at Baruch for 11 years, has a long-held interest in China. He lived there, along with his father, who is also a scholar. The elder Sen wrote books on a variety of topics relating to China, and translated them into Indian languages. Beginning next January, the younger Sen will take a one-year sabbatical from Baruch.
Prof. Tansen Sen, author of the book Buddhism, Diplomacy, and Trade (University of Hawa'ii, 2005), will spend next year collaborating with other scholars on the cultural and commercial consequences of reopening the ancient Southern Silk Road.