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Political Science Zhang Xin

June - November 2023

Imagining Eurasia: critical geopolitics of connectivity and coordination between China, Russia and Turkey

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there have been explosions of imaginations for a (re-)connected Eurasia. Major countries in the region, China, Russia, Turkey in particular, have presented various geographic visions and spatial practices in their regional connectivity projects. My project examines three sets of key questions. First, what drives such revived imaginations of a re-connected Eurasia in the post-Cold War geopolitical context and capitalist long cyclical changes? Second, what are the key features of different spatial imaginations and representations of a connected Eurasia by key national actors, especially Russia, Turkey and China? Third, what are the prospects of competition and coordination among these different spatial programs of Eurasian connectivity?

I first explore how the idea of “Eurasia” has regained attention, and being interrogated by major state actors in the post-Soviet, post-Cold War geopolitical context. Second, I compare and contrast the articulations of an abstract Eurasian space underlying various connectivity projects presented through (1) maps (2) official documents and expert opinions (3) documentary films and exhibitions in Russia, China, and Turkey. The third part of this project examines how different connectivity projects work together or against each other along different dimensions of spatial reconfiguration across Eurasia, with implications for addressing the challenges in “conjugation” between these different connectivity visions and programs. Proposing “corridorization” as a key spatial formation mechanism, with particular salience for a connected Eurasia in imagination and in practice, I will cover the following empirical cases (1) China-Europe railway express, (2) major port/border cities in Eurasia; (3) interaction between major energy pipeline projects across Eurasia.


Zhang Xin is an Associate Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, and Deputy Director of Center for Russian Studies, East China Normal University in Shanghai. His research interests cover comparative political economy, political sociology and political geography, with a regional focus on Russia and Eurasia. He received Ph.D. in political science from University of California, Los Angeles and has taught at Reed College, Fudan University, and Higher School of Economics (Moscow and St. Petersburg). His academic and policy researches appear in multiple languages in Review of International Political Economy, Geopolitics, Osteuropa, China Journal, Russia in Global Affairs, etc. An active media commentator on political economy in Russia and the Eurasian region, he also provides geopolitical and geoeconomic consultation for government agencies and corporations in and outside of China. He is on the editorial board of the academic journal Russian Studies (Eluosi Yanjiu) and is an Executive Council Member of the Chinese Association of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies.


Selected publications

Mayer, Maximilian, & Zhang, Xin Theorizing China-world integration: sociospatial reconfigurations and the modern silk roads

Review of International Political Economy (2021)

Zhang, Xin Chinese Capitalism and the Maritime Silk Road: a world-systems perspective

Geopolitics (2017)

Zhang, Xin Nach dem Neoliberalismus. Staatskapitalismus in China und Russland

Osteuropa (2015)