12:00 am–5:00 pm
Richard Payne, the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, spoke to a packed audience at the Center in Beijing on June 24, 2015. During late antiquity, China and Iran developed ever more intimate cultural, economic and political relations. The political unification of the so-called Silk Road under nomadic rulers – Xiongnu/Huns and Turks – precipitated unprecedented economic growth in the regions between Gansu and Northeastern Iran. Chinese and Iranian elites participated in these trans-Eurasian mercantile networks, but also came to share common enemies in the Xiongnu/Huns and Turks that contested their respective spheres of political supremacy. As a consequence, Iran cultivated diplomatic relations with the Northern Wei, Sui, and Tang dynasties that culminated in the mutual recognition of Iranian and Chinese sovereignties within a multipolar world order.
Richard Payne completed a doctorate in history at Princeton University. Payne was awarded the Bliss Prize from Dumbarton Oaks, the Crisp Fellowship from Phi Beta Kappa, a research fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and a visiting research scholarship from the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University. He was elected a research fellow of Trinity College, University of Cambridge.
Richard Payne is a historian of the Iranian world in late antiquity, ca. 200–800 CE. His research focuses primarily on the dynamics of Iranian imperialism, specifically how the Iranian (or Sasanian) Empire successfully integrated socially, culturally, and geographically disparate populations from Arabia to Afghanistan into enduring political networks and institutions. His current book project, “A State of Mixture: Christians, Zoroastrians, and the Making of the Iranian Empire,” explores the problem of religious diversity within the empire, showing how Syriac-writing Christians could create a place for themselves in a political culture not of their own making.