Silk Roads @ UNSWSilk Roads @ UNSW

Traversing diverse landscapes, speaking different languages

Silk Roads @ UNSWSilk Roads @ UNSW

Exploring the ancient and contemporary Silk Roads

Silk Roads @ UNSWSilk Roads @ UNSW

Transmitting culture, technology and goods

Silk Roads @ UNSW

The Silk Roads @ UNSW initiative brings together experts from across UNSW in a program of interdisciplinary projects exploring the ancient and contemporary Silk Roads. The initiative combines research projects with cultural events and teaching activities to establish a full engagement with 2025 pillars. Participants in the group are active in exploring Silk Road transnationalism in:

  • art, music, literature and sculpture
  • law, politics and security
  • development migration, and economics
  • ethnicity, disability and gender
  • languages and linguistics
  • visualisation technology, social media and digital worlds
  • environment and space
  • ancient histories and cultures of Eurasia
  • religion and philosophy

UNSW participants have expertise on diverse countries and empires including:
Afghanistan, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Myanmar, Central Asia, Nepal, Persia, Pakistan, and Russia.

We are an interdisciplinary, cross-faculty initiative drawing researchers, teachers and practitioners from:
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences - Schools of Humanities and Languages, Social Sciences, New Earth Histories, and Social Policy Research Centre
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Arts and Design
UNSW Built Environment
National Institute for Experimental Arts
Institute for Global Development

Silk Roads @ UNSW aims to be a platform for developing collaborative grants, innovative teaching and community-facing events that position the university at the forefront of a new global research frontier sparked by major programs such as the PRC’s Belt and Road Initiative and the formation of new multilateral agencies that span Eurasia (such as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; Shanghai Cooperation Organisation).

Photo Gallery

Silk Roads @ UNSW

Affiliated Staff

  • Mengistu Amberber
  • Bingqing Li
  • Sarah Cook
  • Ayxem Eli
  • Louise Edwards
  • Srinjoy Bose
  • Felix Ter Chian Tan
  • Sarah Kenderdine
  • Nick Doumanis
  • Jayde Lin Roberts
  • Marnie Feneley
  • Jon von Kowallis
  • Wang Ping
  • Karyn Lai
  • Adam Bobbette
  • Alison Bashford
  • Elizabeth Thurbon
  • Anne Bartlett
  • Karen Fisher
  • Melissa Crouch
  • Tanya Jakimow
  • Manolete Mora
  • Andrew Yip
  • Wang Pan
  • Monika Barthwal-Datta
  • Susanne Schmeidl


Visiting scholars program

Silk Roads @ UNSW hosts a series of visiting scholar programs for scholars and students at all stages of their career to bring international and national researchers and teachers into interdisciplinary conversations.

Public Cultural Events

Music from the Silk Roads – more detail coming soon

Public Academic Seminars and Workshops

19 August 2019, 4.00-5.30 in Morven Brown MB310
Speaker: Dr Cyrus Yee, Sun Yat-sen University.
Title: “Crisis Management vs Ethnic Tension: The Qing Dynasty’s Dilemma”

This seminar examines the controversial migration of Han Chinese farmers to Inner Mongolia during the Qing period (1644–1911). The Qing government regarded the presence of large numbers of Han settlements in Mongolia as undesirable since they had tried to keep Mongols and Hans separate since the establishment of their dynasty. Mongol landlords initially recruited Han farmers as labourers but soon found that they lost land to these newcomers. For Han migrants, the decision to migrate and settle in an alien land had been prompted by hardship. In short, rather than any imperial design, this large-scale population movement was the product of the convergence of diverse factors: geography, social conditions, human greed and an instinct to survive. The presence of Han settlers in Mongolia continues to have impact on relations between modern Inner Mongolia and China today.

9 August 2019, 2.30-4.30 in Morven Brown MB310
The Afghanistan Peace Process unpacked: Globalisation and Governance Research Network Explainer
Roundtable with Professor William Maley (ANU), and UNSW’s Dr Susanne Schmeidl, Dr Srinjoy Bose and Mr Jawed Nader.

afghanistan peace process

Teaching activities

The Faculty of Arts offers two undergraduate courses on the land and maritime Silk Roads:

ARTS2458: Along the Silk Road: Conquerors, Traders and Explorers

ARTS3220: Asian Cities: Studies in History, Culture and Trade

Research activities

"Changes to Silk Road family structures and largescale population movements”
Dr Ayxem Eli and Scientia Professor Louise Edwards

The project aims to build knowledge of how families are impacted through migrations prompted or enabled by major geopolitical and economic shifts along the Silk Road. The continent of Eurasia since the last decades of the 20th century has undergone dramatic upheavals that emerged with the breakup of the USSR and the rupture of economic and political liberalization of the PRC. The move away from centralizing socialist political and economic policies in these localities provided new freedom of global mobility for ordinary people. International and interregional migration has dramatically changed communities along the Silk Road at the foundational level of the family.

“The Use of History in China’s Belt and Road Initiative”
Mr Edward Fahrer – Honours project – 2019.

This thesis examines the connection between the idea of the historical Silk Road and the Chinese government’s promotion of the Belt and Road Initiative in twenty-first century Central Asia.