The Asian landmass has been home to multiple core areas of civilizational development, forming distinctive political and cultural complexes with evolving connections among themselves and to other world regions. Asia commands attention by virtue of its territorial, demographic, and economic size, its long history as a center of world trade, and the longevity of its political institutions, for which documentary records extend over two millennia. Eurasian connections have been crucial drivers of economic, cultural, and intellectual developments. Inner Asian conquest and maritime trade created diverse and pluralistic societies encompassing each of the world’s major religions as well as Buddhism, Daoism, and Confucianism. Relating the distinctive histories of Asia’s interconnected regions to their contemporary geopolitical prominence raises important questions that are fundamental to comprehending the formation of today’s complex world.
Asia specialists in the Department of History cover the long historical span of Asian history in their teaching, and range in geographic focus from Western and Central Asia to East Asia, in particular China and Japan. They also work closely with other colleagues in interdisciplinary programs, training PhDs in art history, anthropology, archaeology, economics, music, and political science. Pitt's Asia Studies Center, with initiatives in South Asia and Southeast Asia as well as China, Japan, and Korea Studies, is a crucial resource.