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 We do not record the seminars or mini-conferences as you will be hearing about brand- new, often unpublished research and we hope to facilitate questions and discussion between the audience and speakers.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

  • The Festival of gul- Surkh: A Bactro-Sogdian Cultural Survival along the Silk Roads
    07-10-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom & Audit Room, King's College
    ID: Please register on 'join meeting' link Passcode: None


    Jonathan Lee is a fellow of the British Institute of Persian Studies and the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He is a writer and researcher and has worked with charities and NGOs. Since 1972, he has engaged in study and field work in Afghanistan, Central Asia and Northern Pakistan. His specialist interests include social history; archaeological reconnaissance and documentation; dynastic history of Afghanistan; religious and ethnic 'minorities'; social history; cross-cultural studies and traditional water management.

    His most recent book 'Afghanistan: A History from 1260 to the Present' (Reaktion, 2018; updated 2022) encompasses many of these topics. Join us to hear more about his regional expertise through the festival of gul-Surkh: A Bactro-Sogdian cultural survival along the Silk Road.

  • Persian Literary Culture and Book Exchange between Central Asia and Mughal India
    14-10-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom
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    India has a rich history of multiple literary cultures which found expression in books written on a wide variety of subjects in many languages and dialects. All books in pre-modern India were manuscripts and those written in Mughal India were mostly in Persian. This presentation is about the culture of writing, collecting and circulating books between Central Asia and Mughal India based on Persian manuscripts and documents as well as published material. The culture of book exchange was driven by politics, literary choices, preservation and dissemination of knowledge, social prestige and control over resources.

    Najaf Haider is a professor of Medieval and early Modern History of India at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi. Haider graduated from Aligarh Muslim University and obtained a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford in Mughal History. He was Samir Shamma Fellow at St. Cross College and visiting professor at the University of Vienna and University of Bonn. Haider is on the editorial board of International Journal of Asian Studies, Cambridge University Press. He has published on monetary economy, communication and conflict, secretarial classes, history of Delhi, and intellectual history of Islam. He is currently working on ‘The Legal Framework of Commercial Transactions in Medieval India’ for the Cambridge History of International Law.




  • The Politics of Animal Images in Iron-Age Nomadic Alliances: Case Studies from China to Crimea
    21-10-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom
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    Petya Andreeva is an assistant professor of Asian art and design history at the Parsons School of Art and Design, The New School, New York. This lecture aims to contribute to the flourishing post-humanist discourse in Silk Road and Ancient Studies. The Iron-Age nomadic societies of the Eurasian steppe route produced and circulated metalworks and textiles adorned with images of counterintuitive composites. In nomadic visual rhetoric, animal bodies existed in a perpetual state of flux and at the edge of cognitive chaos, defying taxonomical classifications and biological conventions. The talk will explore how and why nomadic artisans constructed an alternative biota that was filled with fantastic fauna rooted in a distorted version of ecological reality. I will demonstrate that such zoomorphic fabrications were the byproduct of a certain psychology of mobility and the elite’s political aspirations in diverse and often reluctant political alliances. This discussion will view animal-inspired images as viable contributors to the formation of collective memory and situational identity in early pastoral societies. Based on the speaker’s fieldwork, the study will present case studies from tombs and wealth deposits across North China, Mongolia, North Korea, Kazakhstan, South Russia, Crimea, Hungary.

  • Sasanian Coins Connecting Central Asian to India and China
    04-11-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom & Audit Room, King's College
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    Joe Cribb is a numismatist, specialising in Asian coinages, and in particular on coins of the Kushan Empire. His catalogues of Chinese silver currency ingots, and of ritual coins of Southeast Asia were the first detailed works on these subjects in English. With David Jongeward he published a catalogue of Kushan, Kushano-Sasanian and Kidarite Hun coins in the American Numismatic Society New York in 2015. In 2021 he was appointed Adjunct Professor of Numismatics at Hebei Normal University, China.

    Join us to hear more about Sasanian coins across Eurasia.

  • Pakistan in 75
    11-11-2022 @ 14:00
    Platform | Zoom
    ID: Please register on 'join meeting' link Passcode: None

    Ayesha Jalal is the Mary Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University. After majoring in history and political science at Wellesley College, she obtained her doctorate in history from the University of Cambridge. Jalal has been Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge (1980-1984); Leverhulme Fellow at the Centre of South Asian Studies, Cambridge (1984-1987); Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. (1985-1986); and Academy Scholar at the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies (1988-1990). From 1998-2003 she was a MacArthur Fellow.

    Her publications include "The Sole Spokesman: Jinnah, the Muslim League and the Demand for Pakistan," "The State of Martial Rule: the Origins of Pakistan’s Political Economy of Defence," and "Democracy and Authoritarianism in South Asia: a Comparative and Historical Perspective." Jalal has co-authored "Modern South Asia: History, Culture and Political Economy" with Sugata Bose. Her study of Muslim identity in the subcontinent, entitled "Self and Sovereignty: the Muslim Individual and the Community of Islam in South Asia since c.1850." Her most recent book is "Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia."

Recent Events

  • The Amur River
    18-03-2022 @ 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:


    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
    ID: Please register on 'join meeting' link Passcode: None

    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...