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

Tim Winter

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Chicago University Press
15 September 2019
History; Asian history; International relations; International economics; Geography
Series: Silk Roads
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.
By:   Tim Winter
Imprint:   Chicago University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Edition:   Abridged edition
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9780226658353
ISBN 10:   022665835X
Series:   Silk Roads
Pages:   304
Publication Date:   15 September 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Unspecified

Tim Winter is professor of critical heritage studies at the University of Western Australia. His previous books include Shanghai Expo, Routledge Handbook of Heritage in Asia, and Postconflict Heritage, Postcolonial Tourism.

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

In this fascinating account of the Silk Roads story, Winter argues that objects and histories are more potent than corridors of politics in weaving far-flung peoples and places into networks of cooperation. He views the contemporary Belt and Road Initiative as a quintessential Chinese assemblage of infrastructure and culture, of trade and diplomacy, of hard and soft power that aims to configure a geocultural topography beyond China's borders. This is a sophisticated exploration of how China envisions and exercises its power abroad. --Aihwa Ong, author of Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life Winter has produced a unique and deeply insightful view of the Chinese Belt and Road initiative. Focusing on heritage culture along these routes, he reveals the tangible weave of Silk Road imaginaries with the geopolitics of Chinese infrastructural investments. It is worth following the extent to which this new arc of heritage culture can realize its cosmopolitan possibilities. --Prasenjit Duara, Duke University Winter provides a lucid, subtle, and meticulous account of the manifold ways in which heritage and history are invoked and deployed in the exercise of both novel and familiar forms of geopolitical power. The notion of heritage diplomacy provides a new and important conceptual framing which helps to shine a light on often neglected aspects of the politics of the past--showing how we might uncover the operations of power outside of conventional analyses of conflict and contention between and across the relations of citizens and nation-states. This important book breaks new ground in helping us to understand current transformations in the politics of heritage-and the accompanying transformation of forms of power-in the current era of 'open' borders, mass mobility, international trade, and geopolitical 'cooperation'. --Rodney Harrison, University College London


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