Nathan Vedal, “Is Phonetic Writing Inherently Intuitive? A History of Sanskrit Scripts in China,” University at Buffalo (November 3, 2016, 3 pm)

Sanskrit and Chinese characters

Is Phonetic Writing Inherently Intuitive? 
A History of Sanskrit Scripts in China
A Public Lecture by
Nathan Vedal (Harvard University)
Thursday November 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm
306 Clemens Hall, University at Buffalo (Amherst Campus)
Advocates of Chinese writing reform since the early 20th century have often argued that China ought to adopt a phonetic writing system to replace its current character-based script. Intuitively, the simplicity of phonetic scripts, such as the Roman alphabet, makes this proposal seem reasonable, especially to a western audience. Historians have typically claimed that the lack of script reform in China before the 20th century was a result of insufficient exposure to or consideration of phonetic scripts. However, scholars in China had more access to phonetic scripts than is generally assumed. While these scripts captured their attention and even gained some adherents, they were not widely adopted for several intriguing reasons. This lecture will discuss the study of phonetic Sanskrit scripts in China, which began as early as the 3rd century CE. In particular, it will focus on the 16th and 17th centuries, which ushered in a renaissance of Sanskrit studies among Chinese scholars. During this period, scholars made various uses of this phonetic script, but also maintained that it would be insufficient as a replacement for the native script. Understanding the reasons underlying their skepticism of phonetic scripts sheds new light on why China maintained the use of a character-based script, and provides a window into scholarly culture in the early modern world.
Nathan Vedal is a scholar of Chinese intellectual history in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. His current research explores the formation of scholarly fields, particularly related to the study of language, in sixteenth and seventeenth century China. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Historiographia Linguistica, Tang Studies, and Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies. He is currently preparing a chapter on “Chinese Lexicography, c. 600-1700” for the Cambridge World History of Lexicography.
Nathan Vedal’s talk is generously supported with funding from the UB Honors College.

September 12, 2016: Conducting research on violence in the Global South: Stories from Bangladesh

The UB School of Social Work’s Global to Local Luncheon Series presents

“Conducting research on violence in the Global South: Stories from Bangladesh”

by Shaanta Murshid, PhD

Headshot of Nadine Shaanta Murshid, PhD
Nadine Shaanta Murshid, PhD

Focusing on quantitative and qualitative findings from her research in Bangladesh, Nadine Shaanta Murshid will be speaking about conducting research on violence in a country, where political violence is omnipresent, while intimate partner violence remains a taboo.

Monday, September 12
12:30 – 1:30 PM
684 Baldy Hall, North Campus
~lunch provided~
Contact: Shannon Linehan,

AIIS Dissertation-to-Book workshop (deadline July 1)

Workshop: Transforming Your Dissertation into a Book
Application deadline: July 1

Part of the Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, this workshop aims to help a select number of recent PhDs to re-vision their doctoral dissertations as books.

To Apply: submit a SINGLE PDF FILE containing a current CV, the dissertation abstract, its table of contents, and its first chapter plus a draft book prospectus.

For more info and to apply, contact Susan Wadley:

Participants must arrange their own transport to Madison, Wisconsin for the Annual Conference on South Asia in October.

UB Reporter: "Interest in South Asian studies increasing at UB" (May 23, 2016)

Interest in South Asian studies increasing at UB


More students at UB are pursuing interests in the language, culture and religion of India and other countries in South Asia.


Published May 23, 2016

UB students are enjoying the benefits of the university’s growing interest in study and educational exchange with India, ties that are paying big dividends for students looking for international education and research opportunities.

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