Not a Silk Road: Trading Networks between China and the Middle East as a Dynamic Interaction of Competing Eurasian Geographies
Global Networks: a Journal of Transnational Affairs
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Anderson, P. Not a Silk Road: Trading Networks between China and the Middle East as a Dynamic Interaction of Competing Eurasian Geographies. Global Networks: a Journal of Transnational Affairs https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.43938
This paper offers a different theorisation of the commercial geographies and economic networks that connect China to the Middle East from those associated with the metaphor of the ‘silk road’. Many accounts of the recent and ongoing internationalisation of the Chinese trade in small commodities through the well-known market city of Yiwu describe the increasingly significant flows of commerce between China and the Middle East in these terms. The paper proposes an alternative theoretical frame, arguing that the commercial geographies fashioned by Arab traders in Yiwu are, rather, formed through a dynamic relation of competition and cooperation between a series of distinct but overlapping Eurasian political geographies which have been in process from the 1970s onwards. Analysts have also often highlighted the Muslim and Arab ethnic nature of the transnational economic networks which connect Yiwu to markets across the Middle East. But rather than adopting a network governance approach which sees these networks as embedded in a shared culture or ethnicity which furnishes the possibility of trust, I adopt a structural analysis approach in which traders act as brokers, moving and mediating between different geographies. The paper argues that they act strategically to keep several contexts in play at once because they are faced with an unforeseeable future and marginal citizenship rights.
This work was supported by the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme 669 132 – TRODITIES, ‘Yiwu Trust, Global Traders and Commodities in a Chinese International City’.
ECH2020 EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL (ERC) (669132)
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This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.43938
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/296897
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