Politics and International Relations
This presentation interrogates the relevance of “new” silk roads by a multiscalar analysis of the existing trading routes between China and Europe. It aims at showing the diversity of actors and networks connecting Europe to China since the past thirty years and question the potential impacts that the “New” silk roads (the “BRI” project) may produce. The paper is divided into three parts: first, combining materials of multi-site ethnography in various European cities (Paris, Prague, Bratislava, Budapest, Madrid), historical documentation and geography visualization, I will present a cartography of the global trading networks between China and Europe that emerges since 1978. Second, the paper will analyze two distinct patterns of mobilities between West and East Europe so as to compare how Chinese small commodities diffuse in Europe, reshape the urban industrial geography and connect the peri-urban territories. The presentation will conclude by exploring the possible interaction between the “new” and “old” silk roads through diaspora entrepreneurs’ narratives. The difference between their frontstage and backstage performances shows that while BRI’s economic benefits remains vague and difficult to estimate, its discursive effect towards diaspora and their economic partners is already visible in both transnational and translocal level. It would be valuable for the future research to observe these new alliances connected through BRI’s political rhetoric and their socio-spatial outcomes.