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30 October 2019

Building New Cultural Partnerships along the Silk Road

30 October 2019

Mike Grang, Professor of Cultural Geography at Durham University discusses Project objectives.

New transport connectivity driven by China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) offers new hopes and opportunities to communities in the mountainous regions of Central Asia. However, increased connectivity also carries the potential to introduce significant new societal challenges with regard to benefits and their possibly unequal distribution, as well as challenges for socio-cultural resilience.

The University of Central Asia’s Graduate School of Development hosted the meetings on October 18-20 in Bishkek about the launch of the Resilient Silk Route Cultural Heritage Network. Funded by the UK’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), the project is aimed at building a network, linking local organisations and academic institutions in Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to help develop more resilient local economies and more sustainable societies in their mountain regions in the context of BRI.

The GCRF network will address issues of preserving the local cultural heritages of mountain communities, work through the threats and opportunities created by the transit corridor development, and develop a stronger South-South collaboration and knowledge sharing platform.

“UCA has a fair amount of empirical data, that fits well into this new project and can enrich it,” noted Dr. Bohdan Krawchenko, Dean of the Graduate School of Development, in his opening address. He noted some examples including: a research project with the Lahore University of Management Sciences on trade links between Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan; BRI assessment work, completed by UCA’s Institute of Public Policy and Administration (IPPA); a Research Paper on Chinese investments; and the Gobi Framework project implemented by IPPA jointly with the University of Oxford and the Research Institute of Mongolia, which investigates how Chinese infrastructure investments transform societies, economies, and landscapes in Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

The meetings were organised by UCA’s Cultural Heritage and Humanities Unit (CHHU) and was attended by Research Fellows from Durham University (UK), Oxford University (UK), and representatives of ‘Laarjverd’ NGO (Pakistan).