Rival Empires in Central Eurasia: From Pax Mongolica to Communism and after

Ho-Fung Hung, Johns Hopkins University

Since the collapse of the Mongol Empire in the fourteenth century, Central Eurasia has been a contested space between Russia and China, two empires at the two ends of Eurasia projecting their powers East and West, respectively. After a relatively stable interlude grounded on the balance of power between the Russian and Qing empires in the 18th and 19th century, the region became a zone of rival empires again with the rise of Soviet and Chinese communism and the arrival of the British and then US imperialism in the 20th century. At times, Russia and China formed an alliance, divided Central Eurasia, and jointly resisted Western imperialism. At other times, Russia and China competed with each other over the region's control. The geopolitics of Central Eurasia shows that modern imperialism is never about a simplistic divide between a Global North and South. Instead, it is always a formation constituted by inter-imperial networks and tensions cutting across East and West, North and South, the modern and the pre-modern.

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 169. Theory and History of Empires in Eurasia: Past and Present