The Columbian Exchange in Asia

Image of art from Asia.

In what ways did the European colonization of the New World affect the cuisines, health, and material conditions of Asian societies? 

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 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

Single- or coauthored  journal articles, new course syllabi, conference presentations, exhibitions, cookbooks, databases, critical editions of primary source documents, etc. 

Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Depends on student interest
Start time Anytime
In-person, remote, or hybrid?
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 and English

315 Clemens Hall

Phone: (716) 645-3419


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.)
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Preparation activities

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Asian Studies and English