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Erika Forte was trained in East Asian studies and archaeology at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” (MA 1996). She received an MA in Chinese archaeology at Xi’an Northwest University, PRC (1997) and a PhD degree in Indian and East-Asian Art at Genoa University (2002). In the years 2004–2006 she was a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Research in Humanities of Kyoto University.
Forte's research focuses on the issues of cultural flow and the dynamics of Buddhist visual communication across Asia during the 1st millennium CE. Her methodology combines the study of archaeological and artistic evidence with that of Chinese secular and religious (Buddhist) textual sources. In the last years she has been exploring the cultural interconnection between the oases of the Tarim basin in Xinjiang, particularly Khotan, and adjacent regions – the Himalayas, China, and the Indian subcontinent.
Previously, she has been a research associate of the ERC funded project “BuddhistRoad: Dynamics in Buddhist Networks in Eastern Central Asia 6th-14th c.” at the Center for Religious Studies (CERES) of Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Germany). From 2007 to 2013 she was employed at the National Research Network “The Cultural History of the Western Himalaya from the 8th Century” (CHWH) sponsored by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF), at the University of Vienna. There she also taught Chinese Art and Archaeology within the Department of Sinology. Between 1997 and 2005 she was a permanent member of the joint Italian-Chinese Archaeological Excavation Project on the Buddhist site of the Fengxiansi monastery in Longmen (Luoyang, PRC).
At the IKGA Erika Forte is working within the framework of the FWF stand-alone project “Contextualizing Ancient Remains: Networks of Buddhist Monasteries in Central Asia”. She is investigating the religious, cultural and economic dynamics underlying the functioning of Buddhist institutions in Eastern Central Asia during the 1st millennium CE.