Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226658353 Published September 2019
Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9780226658216 Published September 2019
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Geocultural Power

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

Tim Winter

Geocultural Power
See the author’s website for the book.

Tim Winter

304 pages | 15 maps, 11 line drawings | 6 x 9 | © 2019
Paper $27.50 ISBN: 9780226658353 Published September 2019
Cloth $85.00 ISBN: 9780226658216 Published September 2019
E-book $10.00 to $26.99 About E-books ISBN: 9780226658490 Published September 2019
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.
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
Review Quotes
Asian Studies Review
"Geocultural Power vividly explains how cultural heritage and its historical narratives shape the geopolitical landscape. Focussing on China’s reconstructive use of the Silk Roads as a geocultural imaginary in the Belt and Road Initiative, Winter convincingly argues that a historical narrative of the Silk Roads is of great use for rising China to enhance its policies of peaceful exchange and interregional cooperation. . . . [He] provides much-needed insight into the intersection of politics, history and culture, and an empirically rich account of China’s reconstruction of the Silk Roads’ transboundary history."
"This well-researched and well-supported volume by Winter addresses the question of how China's Belt and Road Initiative (sometimes referred to as the New Silk Road) seeks to rewrite history and reshape international trade and political relations today."
Tim Oakes, Political Geography
"‘Big Idea’ writers—including Niall Ferguson, Thomas Friedman, Francis Fukuyama, Samuel Huntington, Robert Kagan, Paul Kennedy and Antonio Negri, among others. . . . Winter offers Geocultural Power as a candidate for joining this list."
Aihwa Ong, author of Fungible Life: Experiment in the Asian City of Life
“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.”
Rodney Harrison, University College London
“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’.”
Prasenjit Duara, Duke University
“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.”
Chima Anyadike-Danes | Inner Asia
". . . a careful deconstruction of the Chinese government’s early twenty-first-century mobilisation of the nation’s Silk Road heritage. . . Geocultural Power is a well-written, wide-ranging and innovative scholarly account that makes visible and comprehensible contemporary Chinese attempts at forging relations with nations throughout Eurasia."
Eurasian Geography and Economics
"As Winter notes, Geocultural Power is present in all tenses. This new theoretical intervention in understanding the BRI will allow the readers to understand how the past is reworked in the present to imagine and look to the future of history making."
Political Geography
"Tim Winter's book stimulates a most welcome and necessary conversation about power, politics, and the role of history and culture in diplomacy and international affairs. Geocultural Power makes a much-needed contribution to interdisciplinary analysis of global dynamics and to holistic understandings of the construction of new world orders."
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