Geocultural Power: China’s Quest to Revive the Silk Roads for the Twenty-First Century

Launched in 2013, China’s Belt and Road Initiative is forging connections in infrastructure, trade, energy, finance, tourism, and culture across Eurasia and Africa. This extraordinarily ambitious strategy places China at the center of a geography of overland and maritime connectivity stretching across more than sixty countries and incorporating almost two-thirds of the world’s population. But what does it mean to revive the Silk Roads for the twenty-first century?

Geocultural Power explores this question by considering how China is couching its strategy for building trade, foreign relations, and energy and political security in an evocative topography of history. Until now Belt and Road has been discussed as a geopolitical and geoeconomic project. This book introduces geocultural power to the analysis of international affairs. Tim Winter highlights how many countries—including Iran, Sri Lanka, Kenya, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, and others—are revisiting their histories to find points of diplomatic and cultural connection. Through the revived Silk Roads, China becomes the new author of Eurasian history and the architect of the bridge between East and West. In a diplomatic dance of forgetting, episodes of violence, invasion, and bloodshed are left behind for a language of history and heritage that crosses borders in ways that further the trade ambitions of an increasingly networked China-driven economy.

Authored by: Tim Winter
Book Information: 304 pages | 14 halftones, 12 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2019
List of Illustrations
Work Together for a Bright Future of China-Iran Relations, Xi Jinping, January 2016

Chapter 1. From Camels and Sails to Highways and Refineries

Belt and Road
The Dream of an Integrated Eurasia
Heritage Diplomacy

Chapter 2. The Silk Road: An Abridged Biography

Constructing the Antiquities of Eurasia in the Politics of Empire
Inscribing National Pasts
Traveling Eurasia
East-West Encounters in the Shadow of the Cold War

Chapter 3. A Politics of Routes

The Restitution of Greek Culture
Connecting Futures; Metaphors of the Past
Shifting the Geographies of Internationalism

Chapter 4. Corridor Diplomacy

Corridors of Silk
Heritage Corridors by the Sea

Chapter 5. Objects of Itinerancy

Shipments of Porcelain
Exhibiting Itinerancy
Trafficking Antiquities

Chapter 6. Historical Openings

Explorations in History
Assembling Belt and Road Knowledge

Chapter 7. Geocultural Power

The Routes of Geocultural Power
The Smooth Touch of Silk
The Broad Arc of History