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Forgotten People: Interpreters and Translators in Yuan and Early Ming China

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Event Details:

How did the Mongols govern the multi-linguistic territories that they occupied in the 13th century?  How did they communicate with the local elites, as well as representatives—envoys, merchants, entertainers, scientists, and physicians—of foreign lands?  Who served as intermediaries in such conversations?  Who and how did they transmit Mongol orders?  What influence did these Interpreters and Translators have on policy?  Did material objects, on occasion, substitute for language in communications?  Was there a lingua franca that could be used in such conversations?  What influence did the Mongol solutions to such communication problems have on the early Ming dynasty?  This presentation poses and discusses these questions.

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About the speaker:

Morris Rossabi, (Ph.D. Columbia University) was born in Alexandria, Egypt and teaches Chinese and Mongolian history at the City University of New York and Columbia University .  Author or editor of 28 books, including Khubilai Khan, Modern Mongolia, Voyager from Xanadu, China and the Uyghurs, From Yuan to Modern China and Mongolia: The Writings of Morris Rossabi, and A History of China, as well as over a 100 book chapters and articles, he has collaborated on catalogs for art exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  He has traveled extensively and lectured in the Middle East, China, Japan, Korea, Central Asia, and Mongolia.  The National Mongolian University awarded him an honorary doctorate in 2009, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia awarded him a Certificate of Merit in 2021.


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