Performance and Politics on the New Silk Roads, The Summer School of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Warwick

30 May, 2022

Performance and Politics on the New Silk Roads, The Summer School of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Warwick


Call for Applications

The Summer School of the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Warwick

Performance and Politics on the New Silk Roads

Venice June 27 – July 1 2022

Venue: The Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli, Venice

Launched in 2013, and hailed as the largest geo-economics initiative in history,China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has largely been discussed as a consciously designed geo-political and economic project. However, it is also an initiative, a statement of intention, a performance of China on the global stage, and a kind of ‘development theater.’ In this one week summer school for postgraduate students we ask: what does it mean to ‘revive’ and perform Silk Roads for the twenty-first century, and how is this geopolitical chronotype productive for politics and theatre and performance studies?

We shall examine the performances of state actors who, typically co-produce the ways in which China is now projecting itself as a benevolent new development actor. But we shall also consider the counter performances that the BRI sparks: performances of acquiescence (from business elites and supportive local groups) as well as performances of resistance (from labor organizers, environmentalists, and anti-corruption campaigners). We shall discuss Belt and Road as a site of cultural production and cultural politics and the ways theatre and performance artists, visual artists, musicians,  and filmmakers from the countries along the New Silk Road routes and corridors (Western Europe, the Balkans, Central and South-East Asia, Middle East, Africa, etc.) engage, critique and represent the underbelly of the contemporary silk roads – contemporary linkages between the circulations of peoples and desires, the global spread of the capitalist market and economic globalization, and the human and environmental catastrophes they unleash.

Focusing on selected cities along the New Silk Roads (Venice, Trieste, Belgrade, Athens . . .) we shall also examine the contested nature of BRI-driven, infrastructural, material restructuring of urban space and its effects on the contours of lives, places, and socio-natures. Through talks, workshops, and demonstrations the participants will be exposed to a variety of disciplinary approaches and ways in which they could be combined to build a new critical framework to understand the New Silk Roads performatively as a relational and intersectional critical concept and practice. The summer school will also explore historical and art historical dimensions of the silk roads and the Venetian links to them through site visits within the lagoon city.

Venue: The Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli, Zattere, Dorsoduro, 909/A. The venue is in the centre of Venice near the Academia Bridge. See:


Monday, June 27

New and Old Silk Road Imaginaries and Realities

18.00 -18.30 Registration


Welcome and presentation of summer school: MILIJA GLUHOVIC

Keynote 1

JULIA C. STRAUSS, Belt and Road: New and Old Imaginaries of Connections


Tuesday, June 28

Theatre, Performance and Politics along New Silk Roads



SILVIJA JESTROVIC / MARCUS TAN / MILIJA GLUHOVIC, Theatre and Performance on the New Silk Roads

11.30-11.45 Coffee break

11.45-13.00 Seminar with participants I

13.00- 14.30 Lunch

14.30- 16.00


JULIA C. STRAUSS, Belt and Road Initiative and Environmental Issues


Wednesday, June 29

Cultural Politics and Diplomacy along New Silk Roads

9.00 -11.00

Keynote 2

TIM WINTER, University of Western Australia, Topic TBC 

11.00 -11.15 Coffee break

11.15 - 13.00 Seminar with participants II

13.15-15.00 Lunch



Venice and New Silk Roads – Performative investigation through Venice



Thursday, June 30

Venice and East-West Encounters from the Renaissance to the present

9.30am -13.00 Venice and silk roads site visits with LOUISE BOURDUA / LUCA MOLA 

13.15pm -14.30 Lunch



Venice and New Silk Roads – Performative investigation through Venice

convened by MARK FLEISHMAN 

15.30-15.45 Coffee break


Keynote 3

ANNE DUNLOP, Mongol Eurasia in Fourteenth-Century Veneto


Friday, July 1

New Silk Roads and Interdisciplinary Methodologies



BHAVNA DAVE, BRI in Central Asia: Performance, Protests, Spectacles, Effects

10.30-10.45 Coffee break



Performance and Politics along New Silk Roads: Interdisciplinary Methodologies and Interventions



Closing Remarks




Professor Louise Bourdua, History of Art, University of Warwick

Dr Bhavna Dave, SOAS, University of London

Professor Anne Dunlop, Herald Chair of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne

Professor Mark Fleishman, CTDPS,University of Cape Town

Dr Milija Gluhovic, Theatre Studies, University of Warwick,

Professor Silvija Jestrovic, Theatre and Performance Studies, University of Warwick,

Dr Luca Mola, Department of History, University of Warwick,

Professor Julia C Strauss, SOAS, University of London,

Dr Marcus Cheng Chye Tan, Visual and Performing Arts, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore,

Professor Tim Winter, School of Social Sciences, University of Western Australia



Applicants must submit the following materials (in English) by 31st of May 2022:

  • a CV (1 page max. Including a list of publications (if any)
  • a covering letter explaining how participation in the Summer School will benefit your research and stating financial needs (500 words max.)
  • One letter of recommendation

Please send these materials to and

Applicants accepted in the program will be notified by May 25, 2022, via email. They must confirm their participation by May 31, 2022. Registration fee are also due by May 31, 2022. For further information please write to and

£100 Registration Fee (including lunches and entry tickets for museums)



The IAS is offering the following bursaries:

10 bursaries covering accommodation (based on 2 persons sharing a room)

If you are not able to access funds to attend, we offer a limited amount of accommodation bursaries based on financial need and merit of the application. Please indicate in your letter if you would need a bursary, provide a rationale for your request specifying if your attendance is contingent on receiving a grant.

Selected students are required to confirm their registration by paying fees and emailing their receipt to and

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