The Silk Road and the Black Sea/Eastern Mediterranean Region: Classical Geopolitics, Energy and Security Dilemmas in a Historical Perspective

Since the end of the Cold War and propelled by the rise of China and its inclusion in global financial and political institutions, (European) West & (Chinese) East interaction has entered everyday vocabulary and discussions (nowadays fuelled even more due to the Chinese One Belt One Road Project – abbreviated as OBOR or the “New Silk Road”), giving rise to the concept of Eurasia as an interlinked continent, in which the Black Sea – Eastern Mediterranean complex has a pivotal position. In this context, not only China and Europe, but also the US, Russia and other major or minor players are entering the stage of a new “Great Game”, where international competition co-exists with international cooperation and Great Powers are faced with overlapping economic, energy and security policies.

The course places this modern discussion on the Silk Road and on the Black Sea/Eastern Mediterranean region’s special role in two complementary contexts, with the aim to enhance its understanding on the part of the student and to open up new fields of research:

  • the first frame is the context provided by the theory of Classical Geopolitics, through which the student acquires the necessary analytical tools by which to approach modern narrations on East & West interaction, trans-Eurasian Trade and Energy transfer corridors as well as current Security Dilemmas. Both the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean are central to these overlapping projects and Classical Geopolitics theory helps in understanding why.
  • the second frame is that of History: The Black Sea/Eastern Mediterranean region, as a geographical and cultural complex, has always been a hub of the East-West interaction and a focal point of competition between Great Powers,  already from Ancient times. This part of the course aims at urging the students to explore these past aspects by presenting to them international bibliography’s latest findings and information found on translated into English sources.

At the end of the course the students will be familiar with modern and historical aspects of Eurasian integration attempts, while being able to implement Classical Geopolitics as a tool for analysis for contemporary international developments, particularly in western Eurasia, in the areas of the Black Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean.