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Beyond the Silk Roads
  • Open access
  • Coming soon
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Expected online publication date: October 2021
  • Print publication year: 2021
  • Online ISBN: 9781108974387

Book description

Small-scale traders play a crucial role in forging Asian connectivity, forming networks and informal institutions separate from those driven by nation-states, such as China's Belt and Road Initiative. This ambitious study provides a unique insight into the lives of the mobile traders from Afghanistan who traverse Eurasia. Reflecting on over a decade of intensive ethnographic fieldwork, Magnus Marsden introduces readers to a dynamic yet historically durable universe of commercial and cultural connections. Through an exploration of the traders' networks, cultural and religious identities, as well as the nodes in which they operate, Marsden emphasises their ability to navigate Eurasia's geopolitical tensions and to forge transregional routes that channel significant flows of people, resources, and ideas. Beyond the Silk Roads will interest those seeking to understand contemporary iterations of the Silk Road within the context of geopolitics in the region. This title is also available as Open Access.


‘Beyond the Silks Roads is a timely, original, and deeply researched portrait of the role of Afghan traders in forging new and important linkages among regions in Asia and to global circuits of exchange. Marsden’s fascinating multi-sited ethnographic research brings this story to life, revealing an unexpected but crucial dimension of inter-Asian connections.’

Robert D. Crews - Stanford University

‘Marsden brilliantly depicts the dynamic and shifting networks of Afghanistan-based traders and how they work with multi-ethnic, multi-national partners. His riveting ethnography of how they establish trust and predictability in uncertain, far-flung environments matches in significance and depth Shelomo Goitein’s classic A Mediterranean Society, depicting the Cairo-based Jewish trading communities and networks of an earlier historical era.’

Dale F. Eickelman - Dartmouth College


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