Stretching some 8,000 kilometers from east to west, the Silk Road is a network of trade routes that connected the east and the west. Between the 1st and 14th centuries, the Silk Road flourished as a commercial and at times military highway. It was a channel for the transmission of ideas, religions, technologies, and artistic forms and styles, with far-reaching impact beyond China and the Mediterranean world. More recently, China’s emergence as a world economic power led to the launching of the One Belt One Road Initiative. In this course we will learn about the history and cultures of the Old Silk Road. We will also explore why in the 21st century China is reviving the paradigm of the Silk Road for its geopolitical and economic policies. We will compare the historical Silk Road with the new model that China envisions, and assess whether China might be successful or not in realizing this “dream.” Multidisciplinary in nature, the course covers materials found in disciplines ranging from history, religions, art history, cultural studies, economics, to current news coverage.
USEM: The Silk Road, Old and new