Arts Building, Riverside, CA 92507

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This conference is free and open to the public


Register to attend in-person or via Zoom


Conference attendees should register their vehicle to get access to free parking in Lot 1 Blue:

(for a map of UCR parking lots, click here)


What kinds of histories do textiles and dyes tell? They represent not just culture, artistic expression, and ‘beauty’ but also science, technology, labor, and economics. Their histories are entangled in the histories of commerce, slavery, and colonialism, as well as resistance to them. As dyes come from plants and animals in different ecosystems, how did knowledge about processing and using dyes circulate in the early modern period (before 1850)? Can they help us gain insight into Indigenous forms of knowledge, cultural philosophies, histories of religious conversion, and cultural exchange? How do they expand our understanding of the histories of science and technology? When we foreground the materiality of textiles and dyes, what are the distinct cultural contexts that come into view? What are the spatial relationships, environmental conditions, and technological limitations that become important to understand


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9:00 - 9:30 am - Welcome

9:30 - 10:45 am - Keynote by
Aboubakar Fofana“Indigo Pasts and Futures in West Africa: A View from Mali”


10:45 - 11:00 am - Coffee Break


11:00 am - 12:40 pm -  Session 1


  • BuYun Chen,  “From Field to Vat: The Life of Indigo in the Ryukyu Islands”
  • Sylvia Houghteling, “Fleeting Dyes and Fresh Fabrics: Perishable Materials in the Eastern Indian Ocean Textile Trade”


12:40 - 1:40 pm - Lunch Break


1:40 - 3:20 pm - Session 2

  • Sean Silver, “Early Modern Mordants: History, Theory, and Practice” 
  • Michelle Rawlings, “The Fading Colors of West Mojave”
  • Chi Yen Ha, “Beyond Indigo Blue: Exploring Inter-ethnic Dynamics in Knowledge Expansion and Creativity in Vietnam’s Natural Dyeing Movement”


3:20 - 3:50 pm - Coffee Break


3:50 - 4:50 pm - Tyrrell Tapaha“People and the Pigments: the Ethnobotanical History of Diné Weaving and the Colorado Plateau”


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Organised by Jody Benjamin (Assistant Professor of History), Yong Cho (Assistant Professor of Art History), Savannah Esquivel (Assistant Professor of Art History), and Fatima Quraishi (Assistant Professor of Art History). This conference is made possible through the support of the Center for Ideas & Society, CHASS Dean's Office, Department of Art History, Department of History, Department of Media and Cultural Studies, Department for the Study of Religion, Department of English, Reclamation & Native American Communities Commons Group, Queer and Trans Commons Group, Middle East and Islamic Studies Program, and Southeast Asia: Text, Ritual, and Performance.


Photo: Naoya Wada. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

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