The Columbian Exchange in Asian Lexicography

Image of art from Asia.

Seeking students to engage in research exploring changes to Asian cultures as part of a broader research project examining the spread of syphilis and the chili pepper in South Asia. 

Project description

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.

Project outcome

The specific outcomes of this project will be identified by the faculty mentor at the beginning of your collaboration. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Depends on student interest
Start time Anytime
Level of collaboration Depends on student interest
Benefits Academic Credit, Volunteer, Work Study
Who is eligible Students with advanced reading proficiency in one or more Asian languages (including Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Chinese, Tibetan, Javanese, Japanese, etc.)
Critical Language and Fulbright Scholarships

Students participating in this project might be interested in and eligible for the Critical Language Scholarship and the Fulbright Scholarship. Connect with the Office of Fellowships and Scholarships to learn more.

Project mentor

Walter Hakala

Associate Professor

Asian Studies

315 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-3419

Email: walterha@buffalo.edu

Start the project

  1. Email the project mentor using the contact information above to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to contact a project mentor.)
  2. After you receive approval from the mentor to start this project, click the button to start the digital badge. (Learn more about ELN's digital badge options.) 
Fulfilling Academic Major/Minor Requirements

If you are planning to use this project to satisfy program requirements for your academic major or minor, it is your responsibility to obtain approval from your academic department prior to beginning the project. 

Preparation activities

Once you begin the digital badge series, you will have access to all the necessary activities and instructions. Your mentor has indicated they would like you to also complete the specific preparation activities below. Please reference this when you get to Step 2 of the Preparation Phase. 

  • Set up a meeting with Prof. Walt Hakala using the contact information above to discuss what specific activities you will complete to prepare for this mentored project.