Seminars & Events

APL (Ajiken Power Lunch)

Trade and Political Fragmentation on the Silk Roads: The Economic and Cultural Effects of Historical Exchange between China and the Muslim East

APL (Ajiken Power Lunch) is a lunchtime workshop open to public, including IDE staffs, visiting research fellows, IDEAS students, outside researchers and graduate students. This workshop provides a platform for presentation of any work in progress where we can discuss in either English or Japanese.

Those who would attend a seminar are asked to announce yourself to receptionists on your arrival at the IDE and to obtain APL Organizers' signature on your admission card after the seminar.


July 12, 2019. (Friday) 10:30-12:00

The Silk Roads stretched across Eurasia, connecting East and West for centuries. At its height, the network of trade routes enabled merchants to travel from China to the Mediterranean Sea, carrying with them high-value commercial goods, the exchange of which encouraged urban growth and prosperity. In this paper, we examine the extent to which urban centers thrived or withered as a function of political shocks to trade routes, particularly the fragmentation of state and imperial control along natural travel paths. We find that political fragmentation along the roads to Aleppo and historic Chang'an --- major terminus locations for cross-regional trade --- damaged city growth. Alongside inter-regional trade, the Silk Roads also connected China to the Muslim East by facilitating forms of religious and cultural exchange, including the transmission of ideas, values and aesthetic traditions. We trace one effect of historical Silk Roads trade on the contemporary period --- cultural affinity as measured through commonality of basic values. Our findings suggest that pre-modern patterns of economic and cultural exchange have implications for the success of contemporary Chinese soft power projection in Western Asia.

Christopher Paik (Assistant Professor, Political Science, New York University Abu Dhabi)




Institute of Developing Economies, APL Organizers
E-mail: APLE-mail