The Silk Roads in Global History

This seminar will introduce the concept of the Silk Roads--a series of trade routes connecting East Asia to the Mediterranean, which, through the exchange of goods as well as ideas, influenced the cultures of East Asia, India, the Middle East and the Mediterranean. This seminar will cover many different facets of the Silk Road: history, philosophy, religion, music, languages and customs, trade, science and medicine, and incorporate interactions with European powers, introducing concepts of colonialism, imperialism, and war. We will expand this concept to encompass global trade, and cultural and political networks across the globe. We will start by focusing on Asia as the center of early exchange of cultures, discovering how many elements of East Asian culture and life, and not just silk, were carried over to and exchanged with other Asian and Middle Eastern countries. The importance of early nomadic cultures in creating these routes, and their role in the flourishing of an exchange and information route which encompassed modern day Mongolia, Afghanistan, India, the Middle East, Greece, and Rome, will also be introduced. The seminar will end with a discussion of the contemporary geo-political challenges and the concept of the “New Silk Roads.”