What We Are Reading Today: Art and Archaeology of the Erligang Civilization

Updated 28 August 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Art and Archaeology of the Erligang Civilization

  • This richly illustrated book is the first in a western language devoted to the Erligang culture

Named after an archaeological site discovered in 1951 in Zhengzhou, China, the Erligang civilization arose in the Yellow River Valley around the middle of the second millennium BCE.

Shortly thereafter, its distinctive elite material culture spread to a large part of China's Central Plain, in the south reaching as far as the banks of the Yangzi River. The Erligang culture is best known for the remains of an immense walled city at Zhengzhou, a smaller site at Panlongcheng in Hubei, and a large-scale bronze industry of remarkable artistic and technological sophistication.

This richly illustrated book is the first in a western language devoted to the Erligang culture. It brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines, including art history and archaeology, to explore what is known about the culture and its spectacular bronze industry. 

The opening chapters introduce the history of the discovery of the culture and its most important archaeological sites. Subsequent essays address a variety of important methodological issues related to the study of Erligang, including how to define the culture, the usefulness of cross-cultural comparative study, and the difficulty of reconciling traditional Chinese historiography with archaeological discoveries. 

The book closes by examining the role the Erligang civilization played in the emergence of the first bronze-using societies in south China and the importance of bronze studies in the training of Chinese art historians.

The contributors are Robert Bagley, John Baines, Maggie Bickford, Rod Campbell, Li Yung-ti, Robin McNeal, Kyle Steinke, Wang Haicheng, and Zhang Changping.


What We Are Reading Today: Unbecoming

Updated 22 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Unbecoming

Author: Anuradha Bhagwati

Unbecoming is a raw, unflinching memoir by a former US Marine captain chronicling her journey from dutiful daughter of immigrants to radical activist effecting historic policy reform.
Anuradha Bhagwati’s memoir offers a distinctive lens on the Marines.
The daughter of two well-known Indian economists, she graduated from Yale and dropped out of graduate school at Columbia, where her parents taught.
“A tale of heroic resilience grappling with the timely question of what, exactly, America stands for, Unbecoming is about one woman who learned to believe in herself in spite of everything. It is the kind of story that will light a fire beneath you, and inspire the next generation of indomitable female heroes,” said a review published in goodreads.com.
In the Marine Corps, Bhagwati held posts in Okinawa, Thailand and Camp Lejeune, and excelled as a marksman and runner.
V.V. Ganeshananthan says in a review published in The New York Times: “The book is at its most powerful when she writes about who she became in response to the violence the military trained her to commit.”