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Panel on 'Central Asia and Unrigid Geographies of the Silk Road' at ESCAS 2019

When Jun 27, 2019
from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM
Where Room 6, University of Exeter, UK
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Panel -SS2: Central Asia and Unrigid Geographies of the Silk Road

Chair: Siddharth Saxena (University of Cambridge)

Ulugbek Khasanov (University of World Economy and Diplomacy): History and Specifics of Central Asian Development (Post-Soviet Context)

At all difficulties, contradictions and failures of the initial stage of existence of all post-Soviet space, there was a constant search of ways of preservation and further development of close forms of interaction as a counterbalance to prolonged "disorder" of former unitary system. Such search in many respects was defined and until now keeps the relevance understanding that in extremely difficult and ambiguous conditions of globalization and also collisions of interests of the leading external players, institutional mechanisms of regional cooperation, are presented to an important component of stability and safety and got special sounding. The basic community making process in the region, embraces common their close culture, history and traditions. The Central Asian region is comprised of five nations being a part: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan. The new states of Central Asia have the general historical roots in respect of belonging to oriental civilization. The people inhabiting here, except Tajiks, are related to ethnic one metagroup, generally treat turkic-speaking group.


Prajakti Kalra (University of Cambridge): The Silk Road: Past and Present (The Mongols to the EAEU and OBOR)

Eurasia as a geographical concept has existed since time immemorial. The physical connectivity of Eurasia is best depicted through the ancient Silk Road which signified a complex network of roads and waterways to connect the different regions of Eurasia, from China through Central Asia, Iran and Iraq to Russia and the surrounding regions. Mongol Eurasia was the formation of a new world order which encompassed the disparate regions within Eurasia. Mongol expansion was underscored by Central Asian elite that had the knowledge and experience of government and business so essential to the Eurasian enterprise. The Mongols provide the basis for rethinking, reimagining and reinventing notions of interaction and provide an alternative worldview rooted in steppe traditions. This paper will consider the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union with Russia and Kazakhstan as the main drivers and the latest 17 Chinese initiative of the One Belt One Road which encompasses the whole of the Silk Road all set to redefine the rules of development, trade and Eurasian relationships within this historical context. The current discussion on Eurasia threatens to be overtaken by European understandings of the Other unless the history of Eurasia can be understood in its specific setting.

Keywords: EAEU, OBOR, Mongol Empire, Chinggissids, Chinggis Khan, economy, trade, networks, Silk Road, Central Asia, China, Russia

Diana Kudaibergenova (University of Cambridge): Where is the “heart” of contemporary Silk Road?

This paper critically evaluates the concept of Silk Road in the wider Eurasian region. Silk Road symbolism and value became part of many geopolitical and local projects but China’s OBOR project is the most well-known and powerful project up to date. I focus on the cultural geographical aspect of Central Asian states’ involvement in the “corridor” and the “passage” space that connects and serves as a creative place of concentration of forces, ideas and resources. All of these issues develop rapidly as Central Asia tries to retain its position in the global value chain and make the region the centre of the contemporary Silk Road once again. The paper raises the question of how can the case of Central Asia – where identity has to be constantly navigated based on the concept of ‘passage’ and ‘fluidity’, especially in response to the ‘other’, while also being a producer of ideas – help build a more complex and multi-layered interpretive paradigm that includes concepts of hybridity, transculturalism, multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. The paper also contributes to the local understanding of Chinese threats, territorial disputes, heritage divisions based on real and imagined boundaries and borders and on the constant flow of places, people and trade across this lively cultural and political space.

Keywords: Silk Road, OBOR, cultural geography, geopolitics, transculturalism, fluidity