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Swat Valley Symposium

Photography of the Swat Valley

April 20, 2011 — The Art & Art History department has organized, under the direction of Dr. Pia Brancaccio, the first ever symposium dedicated to the art and culture of the Swat Valley in ancient times. Located at the foothills of the Hindukush, Swat has historically been a meeting place for diverse cultural traditions and a center for international trade. Indian, Greek, Iranian and Central Asian cultures intertwined in antiquity with the traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism to create a unique culture and society. The symposium is Saturday, May 7th at 10 AM in Ruth Auditorium, 125 Nesbitt Hall (3215 Market St.).

Little is known about the complex history of the Swat valley and its diverse artistic traditions despite the attention it receives due to its role in conflict-ridden Afghanistan and Northwest region of Pakistan. Historians, art historians, epigraphists and archaeologists, who have all worked in the region, will talk on topics including: the impact of the Hellenistic culture in Swat; the development of Buddhism and its art in the region; Hinduism in Swat from the Vedic tradition to the articulate Hindu visuality of the post-Kushan period; the relationships existing in antiquity between the agricultural people of the valley and those living in the mountains; and how the cultural history of Swat may help us better comprehend the complexity of contemporary socio/political scenarios.

Speakers and discussants include Pia Brancaccio, Associate Professor in Art History and author of Gandharan Buddhism: Art, Archaeology and Text
and The Buddhist Caves at Aurangabad: Transformations in Art and Religion; Kurt Behrendt, Assistant Curator for South Asian Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; James Caron, Lecturer in Pashto and Contemporary History of Afghanistan and Pakistan, University of Pennsylvania; Harry Falk, Professor of Indology, Freie Univeritat Berlin; Anna Filigenzi, Director of the Uddiyana Project, Osteirreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna; Michael Meister, W. Norman Brown Professor of South Asia Studies, University of Pennsylvania; Luca Maria Olivieri, Director, IsIAO Archaeological Mission in Pakistan; Joan Raducha, Associate Dean Emeritus, University of Madison-Wisconsin. The symposium is co-sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania South Asia Center.

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