PUBLIC TALK: FREE PUBLIC SEMINAR: Geopolitics of Maritime Pasts: Connecting the Indian Ocean and South China Sea
|FREE PUBLIC SEMINAR: Geopolitics of Maritime Pasts: Connecting the Indian Ocean and South China Sea : Ideas about peaceful seas and civilisations in dialogue are 'strategic narratives' at a time when States seek power through structures of connectivity
In their recent show of friendship, why exactly did Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi exchange portraits of each other on silk and ceramic? While the Western media didn’t ponder such matters, the meaning of these gifts was debated intensely in both China and India. This presentation demonstrates why this moment forms part of a much larger, and fast changing, landscape of geocultural politics. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is driving this, transforming the geopolitics of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea through a narrative of a ‘revived’ Maritime Silk Road.
To date, analyses of maritime geopolitics in these regions have primarily gravitated around sea-lane ‘choke points’, or the construction of port infrastructure and artificial islands. What has been missed is the strategic importance countries across Asia now place on crafting and revising history for maritime diplomacy and economic development. As we will see, for Indonesia, it is the ‘spice routes’, elsewhere it might be Zheng He. The presentation demonstrates the Maritime Silk Road is not 2000 years old, but a history invented at the end of the Cold War. A series of short films will be shown to illustrate how think-tanks, academics, museums, BBC World, Russia Today, and Chinese state television uncritically repeat this ‘history’ of trade and exchange, and it will be argued that ideas about peaceful seas and civilisations in dialogue are ‘strategic narratives’ at a time when states seek power through structures of connectivity.
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