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Lisa Blaydes: Trade and Political Fragmentation on the Silk Roads

Stanford University professor examines historical exchange between China and the Muslim East.

May 31, 2019
from 02:00 PM to 03:30 PM

Kerr 693

The UC Davis Political Science Speaker Series presents: "Trade and Political Fragmentation on the Silk Roads: The Economic and Cultural Effects of Historical Exchange Between China and the Muslim East," with Lisa Blaydes, professor of political science at Stanford University and a senior fellow with the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Abstract: The Silk Roads stretched across Eurasia to connect East and West for centuries. At its height, the network of trade routes enabled merchants to travel from China to the Mediterranean Sea, carrying with them high-value commercial goods. Alongside inter-regional trade came political, economic and cultural exchange that were crucial for urban growth and prosperity. This paper examines the extent to which urban centers thrived or withered as a function of political shocks to trade routes, particularly the fragmentation of state and imperial control along natural travel paths across Eurasia. In doing so, we challenge a Eurocentric approach to world history through an examination of exchange between the two most developed regions during the medieval and early modern periods, China and the Muslim East. The paper also traces one effect of historical trade on the contemporary period – forms of cultural diffusion that may persist into the contemporary period.

Lisa Blaydes is the author of "Elections and Distributive Politics in Mubarak’s Egypt" (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and "State of Repression: Iraq under Saddam Hussein" (Princeton University Press, 2018). Her articles have appeared in the American Political Science Review, Annual Review of Political Science, International Studies Quarterly, International Organization, Journal of Politics, Journal of Theoretical Politics, Middle East Journal, and World Politics. She holds degrees in Political Science (Ph.D.) from UCLA and International Relations (BA, MA) from Johns Hopkins University.