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When independence from Britain enabled American merchants to initiate direct trade with India, no one could have foreseen the impacts of the far-reaching revolution in textile production already underway at the end of the eighteenth century.

Susan S. Bean, chair of the Art & Archaeology Center of the American Institute of Indian Studies and associate of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University, gave the keynote lecture at an Indian textiles symposium held at Cornell on April 18-19, 2019. Bean's presentation explored the initial American experience in the textile trade with India and brings into focus the irony that India's preeminence in textile production stimulated the very innovations that would upend its paramount position and permanently transform the making of cloth.

In conjunction with the exhibition Traded Treasure: Indian Textiles for Global Markets, the symposium looked at India’s history of innovative textile traditions. It was cosponsored by Cornell’s South Asia Program, Southeast Asia Program, and Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies; and supported by the Stoikov Asian Art Lecture Fund at the Johnson, which was funded by a generous gift from Judith Stoikov ’63.