With its bold promise of new infrastructure to link East and West, China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative has been much in the news in recent years. History is a powerful part of the logic of the BRI, framed as the revival of ancient trade routes across Eurasia. What do we know about those routes, and how do we know it? What really drove movement along the Silk Road? This talk will consider the BRI in light of the historical Silk Road and place its goals of economic development into a wider geopolitical context.
About the Speaker
Mark Elliott is the Mark Schwartz Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and the Department of History at Harvard University. An authority on post-1600 China and the history of relations across the nomadic frontier, he is a pioneer of the “New Qing History,” an approach emphasizing the imprint of Inner Asian traditions upon China’s last imperial state and its modern successors. From 2015 he is Harvard’s Vice Provost for International Affairs.
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