01:098:473  The Silk Road: A History of Cultural and Material Exchanges

Course description:This course introduces the history of the Silk Road—a complex network of trade routes that connected China with the rest of the Eurasian continent over land and sea—and its role in fostering cultural and material exchanges between the peoples it connected. The course covers the period between 500 BCE and 1500 CE, during which the Silk Road contributed to the forming and transforming the cultural, ethnic, and religious identities of different peoples, such as Chinese, Greeks, Persians, Romans, Arabs, Turks, and Mongolians, and their perceptions of one another. The course, moreover, explores topics, including conspicuous consumption, cultural diversity, religious pluralism, and nomadic migration, as well as the financial, judicial, religious, and social institutions that were the fruits of these exchanges. The course begins and ends with an analysis of conceptualizations of the “Silk Road” against the backdrop of the “Great Game” that played out in the late 19th and early 20th centuries among various colonial powers and its legacy to this day. It also examines the recent push by the Chinese government to establish the so-called “Silk Road Economic Belt” by tapping into its rich legacy.