Relations between China and Central Asia have been attracting considerable attention of late. Along with China’s economic expansion efforts, the hunt for new sources of energy, and so-called “new Great Game” or “new Silk Road” strategies and rivalries, scholars and pundits have tended to emphasize unfolding political alliances in challenging or containing Islam.
In this talk, I consider several fundamental portrayals of China–Central Asia relations that have been invoked in Western, Russian and Central Asian literature, past and present, examining them through the lenses of religious and cultural motivations and influences. While it is tempting to view current events through national – or, nationalist – perspectives and borders, perhaps a comparison with a pre-national age (namely, nineteenth-century Russian and Qing imperial polities) in the region (e.g., the vast territory east of the Caspian, south of the West Siberian Plain, north of the Pamir–Kunlun mountain ranges and west of the Turpan oasis) may yield a more interesting set of insights.
Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Anthropology, Asian Studies, Africana Library, Africana Studies and Research Center, ALANA, Comparative Muslim Societies Program, East Asia Program, Academic Calendar, Asian & Asian American Center, Global Cornell
Director, Islamic Studies Program and Associate Professor, Central Eurasian Studies
Open to the Public
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