Re-imagining Eurasia

Past Flatland stories of urban andlandscape heritage

Authored by: Manu P. Sobti

The Routledge Handbook on Historic Urban Landscapes in the Asia-Pacific

Print publication date:  January  2020
Online publication date:  December  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138598256
eBook ISBN: 9780429486470
Adobe ISBN:


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Central Asia or Eurasia is today acknowledged as a unique cultural terrain, with multiple layers of embedded histories and recurring contradictions between the past, present and foreseeable future. As a cultural crucible par excellence, it remains among the last surviving, truly vast and relatively undisturbed cultural geographies with its inter-connected populations that have continued to live in what may be best defined as ‘multiple times’. Most importantly, Eurasia’s shifting geo-politics, arbitrary borders and borderlands, and concomitant cultural developments remain incompletely reconciled, even in the modern era. In critically re-visiting Eurasia’s significance in UNESCO’s broad gamut of ‘cultural landscape categories’ (designed and/intentional landscapes versus organically evolved landscapes versus associative cultural landscapes), this chapter interrogates the continuing suitability of past frameworks, definitions and management plans that pervade the approaches applied to this region. It specifically examines arguments towards enlarging these largely ‘formal’ (and often failed) approaches brokered by UNESCO with the multiple Stans, to now critically include ‘space-time’ historical moments emerging from genuine regional and/or nation-state narratives as cultural patrimonies preserved for posterity. Also, with its specific insights on Eurasia’s historic and ongoing assimilation of nomadic, quasi-nomadic and sedentary populations, the chapter offers revisions on how the terms ‘urban’ and ‘landscape’ would need substantial rewriting so as to critically include the palimpsest of non-artefactual and mobile histories of the trans-regional ‘trust networks’ that were at the core of this cultural landscape. Last, but not least, within this purview of modified historiographies, this chapter offers possibilities on how would the new and extended histories of Eurasia be written? What roles would bygone and extant artefacts, linkages and choreographies play within these histories? Finally, for whom would these new histories be written, as they self-consciously circumscribe past and present ‘cultural narratives’ that pervade the region, and Eurasia realizes her critical role as a veritable compendium and living museum for the future?

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