Silk Roads Programme Events

Everyone is very welcome to join and participate in the events hosted by the King's College Silk Roads Programme, please add your details here to join our mailing list or get in touch. We do not record the seminars or mini-conferences as you will be hearing about brand- new, often unpublished research and we hope to facilitate questions and discussion between the audience and speakers.

Upcoming Events

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Recent Events

  • The Yellow River A Natural and Unnatural History
    04-02-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom
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    Ruth Mostern is director of the world history centre and an associate professor in the department of history, University of Pittsburgh. A specialist in spatial and environmental history focusing on imperial China and the world, she has diverse research interests bridging the humanities, social sciences, information environmental science.


    Join us to hear about her recently published book which explores the three-thousand-year history of China’s Yellow River and the legacy of interactions between humans and the natural landscape along the river and its watershed.

  • Cross-cultural explorations in the emotions: the case of shame in Aristotle and Xunzi
    11-02-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom and King's College
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    To attend in person at King's please sign up here:

    Jenny Zhao is a research fellow at the Needham Institute specialising in ancient philosophy, comparative studies of ancient Greece and early China and the reception of Greco-Roman classics in China. Topics of particular interest include shame and the emotions, human nature and moral education, as well as representations of infancy and childhood in philosophical works.

    Join us to hear more about cross-cultural explorations of emotions in the ancient world.

  • Sumatran camphor in medieval Afro-Eurasia
    25-02-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom
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    Alex West is a lecturer at the Institute for Area Studies, University of Leiden. Specialising in the Indo-Malaysian archipelago in the fifteenth century before the arrival of the Portuguese and the Islamisation of Sunda, his translations and research have revealed the presence of commodities sourced from places as far apart as the Levant and New Guinea.


    Join us to hear more about how Sumatran camphor in medieval Afro-Eurasia, and what this reveals about global medieval trade networks.

  • The climatic pivot: Knowing environments in Central Asia in the age of High Empire
    04-03-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom and King's College
    ID: Please register on 'join meeting' link Passcode: none

    To attend in person at King's please register here: (Note the talk will be held in the Keynes lecture theatre, not the Audit Room where we usually meet).


    Thomas Simpson is a research fellow at Gonville and Caius College and research associate at the department of history, University of Cambridge. His research lies at the intersection of imperial history, the history of South Asia (and its borderlands), the history of science, environmental history, and historical geography. It centres on colonial knowledge of space, environment, and people during the long nineteenth century, looking especially at how information was produced, communicated, and contested in 'field sciences' such as cartography and anthropology.

    Join us to hear about his current research project 'Making Climate History' which is examining changing understandings of climate across various scientific disciplines and diverse sites around the globe from c.1780 to c.1980.

  • Environmental Factors in the History of the Golden Horde (13th-14th Centuries)
    11-03-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom
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    Uli Schamiloglu is a Professor and Chair of the department of Kazakh Language and Turkic Studies at Nazarbayev University. His main research interests include the history of the Turkic languages and cultures of the Middle East and Central Eurasia, the socio-economic history of the Middle East and Central Eurasia in the medieval period, the history of Turko-Islamic civilization, and modern intellectual movements among the Muslim Turkic peoples of the Ottoman and Russian Empires. His research has considered the role of the Black Death (14th century on) in the history of medieval Central Eurasia, especially its role in the history of the Golden Horde and the Mongol World Empire, including the impact of plague on the history of literary languages, religiosity, and written monuments. More recently he has also begun to work on the Plague in the Time of Justinian (6th-8th centuries) in Central Eurasian history as well.

    Join us to hear more about his research on the Golden Horde and Mongol Eurasia.

  • The Amur River
    18-03-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom and King's College
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    To attend in person at King's please register here:


    Colin Thubron is a travel and novel writer who has won multiple awards for his books which range in subject from Cyprus to China and most of the countries in between. He was president of the Royal Literary Society from 2009 to 2017, with his work recognised by awards from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, Royal Geographical Society, Royal Society for Asian Affairs and Spanish Geographical Society.

    Join us to hear about his latest travels and book 'The Amur River' which forms much of the boundary between far-eastern Russian and China.

  • Qarakhanid Roads to China: A History of Sino-Turkic Relations
    06-05-2022 @ 14:00

    Dilnoza Duturaeva is a historian of Central Asia and China at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and the National Center of Archaeology of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan. She graduated from Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies in 2004, earned her MA from the same institution in 2006, and obtained a PhD in History from the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan in 2011. In the same year, she joined the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan as a Senior Research Fellow. She also pursued doctoral research at the University of Halle-Wittenberg (2008-2009) and the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2010) and held postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Nanjing (2012-2013) and the University of Bonn (2015-2018). Since 2020 she has been working in Paris on a research project funded by the German Research Foundation.

    The talk will introduce her recently published book (Brill, 2022) which reconsiders the diplomacy, trade, and geography of transcontinental networks between Central Asia and China from the 10th to the 12th centuries and challenges the concept of “the Silk Road crisis” in the period between the fall of the Tang Dynasty and the rise of the Mongols. In this talk, the author explores commodity and exchange in the Qarakhanid world and highlights the Qarakhanid commercial activities along and beyond the Silk Roads.

  • Seismic disasters in Central Asia: An archaeological, historical, and geological approach
    20-05-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom & Keynes Hall, King's College
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    Paul Wordsworth is the Wainwright Research Fellow in Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Oxford and associate lecturer in Islamic Archaeology at University College London. His research focusses on the Early Islamic archaeology and history of the Caucasus and Central Asia with a particular focus on landscapes and geographic information systems (GIS). He is currently working on projects in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and will present an introductory overview of his latest project on earthquakes in Central Asia.

    Richard Walker is professor of tectonics at the University of Oxford who uses detailed field investigation, earthquake studies, and Quaternary dating methods to quantify the distribution, rates, and evolution of active faulting within deforming parts of the continents. He has been working most recently in China, the Tien Shan, Iran, Mongolia.

    Join us to hear more about interdisciplinary approaches to seismic disasters in Central Asia.

  • Eurasia in the Age of Dislocation, Disruption and War. What the Invasion of Ukraine means for Russia, Central Asia, China and Be
    14-06-2022 @ 17:00
    Platform | Zoom
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    Mini Conference/ Discussion with the following speakers:

    Alex Cooley, Claire Tow Professor of Political Science, Barnard College, author of Dictators Without Borders: Power and Money in Central Asia (Yale); Exit from Hegemony: The Unravelling of the American Global Order (OUP)

    Maria Repnikova, Professor in Global Communication, Georgia State University, Author of Chinese Soft Power (CUP)

    Katie Stallard, Senior Editor, China and Global Affairs, New Statesman, author of Dancing on Bones: History and Power in China, Russia, and North Korea (OUP)

    Jeff Wasserstrom, Chancellor’s Professor of History, UCI, author of China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know (OUP), editor, Oxford History of Modern China (OUP)

    Chair: Peter Frankopan, professor of Global History, University of Oxford, author of 'The Silk Roads' and 'The New Silk Roads'

    Join us for presentations and discussion from leading experts on the current situation in Ukraine and its implications across Eurasia.

  • Shadow Empire: Imperial state formation in cross-cultural perspective
    17-06-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom
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    Empires can be differentiated into two ideal types: endogenous and exogenous. Endogenous empires such as China, Rome and Persia emerged through a process of internal development, outward expansion from a core territory, and extracted the fiscal resources they required internally through systems of direct taxation or tribute payments. Exogenous (shadow) empires, by contrast, came into existence as products of their interactions (direct and indirect) with established endogenous empires and their persistence depended on such relationships, a form of secondary imperial state formation. Their political and military structures were designed to extract the economic resources on which they depended from external sources rather than internal ones. These included direct appropriation (raiding and piracy), favorable terms of trade, extortion of subsidies in exchange for peace, payments received for services rendered, or scavenging the ruins of collapsed endogenous empires. Although endogenous empires often dealt with exogenous empires as peer polities, the latter invariably lacked one or more of an endogenous empire’s characteristics such as population size and administrative complexity in steppe nomadic empires or amount of territory over which it exercised direct sovereignty in maritime empires. China’s relationship with a series of steppe nomadic empires is one of the best examples of an interaction between the two types that produced stable (if not always peaceful) relationships. If, however, an exogenous empire found itself the conquering territories that it had to rule directly it could transform itself into an endogenous empire. Such transformations produced supersized empires twice or three times the size of the largest endogenous empires (Mongol Empire, Manchu Qing Empire, British Empire, Russian Empire).


    Thomas Barfield is a social anthropologist who conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork among pastoral nomads in northern Afghanistan in the mid-1970s and shorter periods of research in Xinjiang, China, and post-Soviet Central Asia. He is the author of The Central Asian Arabs of Afghanistan (1981), The Perilous Frontier: Nomadic Empires and China (1989), and Afghanistan: An Atlas of Indigenous Domestic Architecture (1991). After 2001 his research returned to Afghanistan, focusing on law, government organization, and economic development issues on which he has written extensively. In 2006 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship led to the publication of Afghanistan: A cultural and political history (2010), a book that received an outstanding title award for American Library Association in 2011.  He has served as President of the American Institute for Afghanistan Studies since 2005.  His forthcoming book, Shadow Empires, explores how distinctly different types of empires arose and sustained themselves as the dominant polities of Eurasia and North Africa for 2500 years before disappearing in the 20th century.

Meet Silk Roads Programme Team
Silk Roads Programme and more.

Silk Roads Programme News


New Research Fellow to join Silk Roads Programme

A third Research Fellow has been appointed to the Silk Roads Programme at King’s.


The new Silk Roads PhD Studentship is open to applicants

This studentship will provide funding for up to 4 years to pursue research on some aspect of the Silk Roads.

Peter Frankopan - Associate Director of the Silk Roads Programme

Peter Frankopan appointed as Associate Director of King’s Silk Roads Programme

King’s is delighted that Peter Frankopan, the foremost expert on the Silk Roads in the UK...