Student working on a research project.

The Columbian Exchange In Asian Lexicography

The so-called "Columbian Exchange” that occurred in the immediate aftermath of European explorations of the Americas resulted in vast and rapid shifts in the material cultures of Asia. I am seeking to work with students interested in exploring with me changes to Asian cultures as part of a broader research project I am carrying out on the spread of syphilis and the chili pepper (capsicum) in South Asia. I am particularly interested in documenting how unfamiliar terms denoting these and other New World objects were semantically equated in lexicographic sources (dictionaries, word lists, vocabularies, glossaries, travelers’ phrasebooks, etc.) with other, more familiar, objects and terms. Interested applicants must be able to read academic prose in an Asian language. I will assist students in requesting sources through UB Libraries; identifying and documenting examples of New World objects in these works; securing funding to visit Asian Studies library collections; and preparing a presentation at a research conference or paper for publication in a journal. Students interested in this project will need to read some introductory works on the Columbian exchange and demonstrate proficiency with bibliography software (e.g., EndNote, Bookends, Zotero) before beginning this project.

Research Project Information

Disciplines: History, Linguistics, Comparative Literatures, Classics, Nutrition, Anthropology, Archaeology
Student Skill-Set Needed: Advanced reading proficiency in one or more Asian languages (including Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Chinese, Tibetan, Javanese, Japanese, etc.)
Compensation: Academic Credit, Volunteer, Work Study
Available: Fall, Spring, Summer


For further information on this opportunity, or to apply, contact:

Faculty Member: Walter Hakala
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Asian Studies
Office: 727 Clemens Hall
Phone: 716-645-3419