Date: Wednesday February 21, 2018
Venue: Moscow State University (MSU), Russia
Theme: “International Academic Cooperation in Uncertain Times”

This event is by invitation only

The development of the internet and communication technologies have transformed our globe, and with ever better transportation networks, it has never been so easy for academics to work together; to meet, to collaborate, and to cooperate. However, these new opportunities are tempered by new challenges; academics must compete with a large stream of mediocrity, and the means to communicate widely and disseminate quickly allows embellishment, falsification, and unchecked (dis)information and “fake” news, and continued censorship and political interference.

Freedom and academic liberties are in many cases limited by secular traditions, by political controls, by the necessity to use a universal language. The economic crisis is often used as a pretext to limit funding to universities and research centres. These limitations affect all academic areas in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

The old Silk Road was an arteria to irrigate continents with new artefacts, but also new thinking. The new Silk Road programme aims to investigate all the aspects of intellectual and material transfers, but also to scrutinise all the barriers that prevent academic work. No field will be excluded.

The IAFOR Silk Road Initiative Round Table Series 2018

The Silk Road Initiative will consider the dissemination between humans past and present of the material such as ceramics, coinage, and jewelry, to the non-tangible, such as ideas, words, religions, and knowhow, and also such things that are at the same time immaterial and material from books and movies to illnesses and viruses.

Through the study of the historical and the contemporary, and the relation and movement between things, places and people, the Silk Road Initiative will help provide insights into our modern globalised world, where people are moving from one continent to another, bringing at the same time, language, culture, tradition and skills, whether skilled economic migrants, itinerant workers, or refugees fleeing war, famine or political repression.

Will the future academic world be (further) divided between those who can move, have free access to internet, and those who cannot, whatever the reason, political, cultural or economic? Will the Academy grow closer together or move further apart?

The Moscow meeting will:

  • a list of sessions for a the Silk Road Initiative of “intercultural, international, interdisciplinary intellectual exchanges”;
  • public calls or private funds that can support meetings and projects and apportion roles and responsibilities;
  • how to best organise the Silk Road Initiative network system, and communicate with subscribers.

Round Table Outline

Wednesday February 21, 2018

10:30-10:45 – Welcome Address
Professor Svetlana Ter Minasova, President, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Area Studies, MSU

10:45-12:15 – Session 1
Report on the ISRI: Dr Joseph Haldane, Chairman, IAFOR, and Professor Georges Depeyrot, Professor at the ENS/CNRS
Document Discussion: Country Reports Delivered & Discussed

12:15-13:15 Lunch

13:15-14:45 – Session 2
Document Discussion: Country Reports Delivered

14:45-15:15 Break

15:15-16:45 – Session 3
Session on future paths for the Silk Road and topics which will be incorporated

16:45-17:00 – Closing session
Professor Ljiljana Markovic, Dean, Faculty of Philology, University of Belgrade

18:30-21:00 Conference Dinner (This is at the expense of the participants)

Thursday February 22, 2018

10:00-13:00 Visit to Lenin’s Mausoleum, State Historical Museum
Organised by Dr Mishieva (MSU)

Topics to consider

Country Reports

Challenges and opportunities afforded by your context: To prepare 20-40 lines (no more than a side of A4)

  1. Challenges: How do we cooperate and collaborate meaningfully across cultures? How do we challenge dominant paradigms? How do we develop ideas across borders? What are the main constraints within which we work (such as access to documentation, internet, freedom of communication, censorship, interference)?
  2. Opportunities: Funding Opportunities
  3. Research Paths: Which research questions should we be raising in future Silk Road Initiative related meetings, conferences and round tables?


Silk Road Initiative Objectives

  • To gather academics to examine topics consistent with their interest the Silk Road(s) and discuss related scientific research
  • To provide an international forum for interaction, cooperation and collaboration between experts on the topic
  • To develop clear consensus statements that defines our understanding of how to meaningfully develop international cooperative research projects
  • To develop recommendations for future research
  • To publish outcomes as white papers or research articles as appropriate


This event is by invitation only

William Lindesay OBE was a Keynote Speaker at The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film 2017, and delivered a presentation on the Great Wall of China, a subject on which he is considered the world’s preeminent expert. A cultural geographer, historian and conservationist, as well as author and filmmaker, Mr Lindesay spoke of the importance of our shared cultural and archaeological heritage, and the importance of both understanding and conserving local, national and world heritage sites.

One of the streams of the IAFOR Silk Road Initiative looks at such global great heritage sites as part of the global patrimony, and yet such historical sites can easily fall victim to neglect or vandalism, or damage through war and terrorism. Although now protected to a far greater extent by the Chinese government, and largely thanks to the work of William Lindesay, parallels were drawn between the Great Wall, and other threatened heritage sites, such as Mes Aynak in Afghanistan, which was the subject of Brent Huffman’s Saving Mes Aynak, winner of the IAFOR Documentary Film Award Honorary Award for 2015.


Dr Joseph Haldane was a plenary speaker at Nevsehir University for the 1st Symposium of International Silk Road Academic Studies, where he delivered an opening address, along with the rector of the university, as well as a presentation entitled “A Perspective from the Furthest Ends of the Silk Road”. IAFOR were happy to be a co-sponsor of this international event, which attracted more than 300 delegates. Nevsehir has an ancient history, and important role in the silk road story. The conference was chaired by Professor Ljiljana Markovic of the University of Belgrade, seen here with the rector of the university, Professor Dr Mazhar Bağlı.


IAFOR had its first public silk road informations session, with ISRI Director Professor Georges Depeyrot presenting alongside IAFOR Chairman Dr Joseph Haldane, and Professor Ljiljana Markovic, Dean of the Faculty of Philology at the University of Belgrade.

Professor Depeyrot is a member of the French CNRS Board of Trustees, and the initiative builds on the DAMIN research project, originally funded by the French government and European Union, and which grew to include individuals and universities in Europe, Central and East Asia. Its initial scope looked at coinage and currency unions and silver depreciation, but the project soon grew to include a variety of interdisciplinary research topics. Professor Markovic looked at the historical role silk played in Serbia and the country’s role as a crossroads in the trade.

A third round table was also held at the event, and included a small group of associated researchers of the initiative, including how to best align initiative streams within the IAFOR international conference program.


The IAFOR Silk Road Initiative had its second roundtable meeting today, attended by a group of academics from around the world, and chaired by Osaka University OSIPP-IAFOR Research Centre co-director Professor Haruko Satoh, and attended by Professor Toshiya Hoshino, now Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations. Professor Hoshino had delivered a keynote situating the contemporary geopolitical situation by recognising the historical context, and with reference to the silk road then, now, and projecting into the future.

Issues of traditional and non-traditional security were discussed, and especially the potential consequences, regional and global, of China’s belt and road scheme.

Demographic changes and economic ramifications were also discussed by Professor Hiroshi Ishida of the University of Tokyo’s Institute of Social Sciences and Professor James McNally, of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor.


Image | Professor Toshiya Hoshino, Osaka University, Japan (now Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations)

Talks on cooperative projects between IAFOR Silk Road Initiative anchor institutions, the University of Belgrade and IAFOR took place in Belgrade at the time of the Faculty of Philology Digital Humanities Conference, in May 2017. Dr Joseph Haldane, Chairman of IAFOR, delivered the conference keynote, on “The development of cultural and information flows: historical, geographical and cultural contexts”. The discussions that followed concentrated on the importance of the Silk Road historically, but also technological developments in the era of big data and rapid change.


IAFOR Chairman travelled to Paris to discuss the IAFOR Silk Road Initiative with the newly appointed Project Director, Professor Georges Depeyrot, of the Ecole Normale Superieure (ENS), France. Depeyrot is a member of Board of Trustees of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), and is one of the world’s leading numismatists. He was the founding director of the ANR DAMIN project, which was the precursor to the IAFOR Silk Road Initiative, and with which IAFOR is a partner, along with the universities of Tokyo, Moscow Financial University and the ENS. The DAMIN project is administered at the Laboratory AOROC Archéologies d’Orient et d’Occident et textes anciens, a joint institution of the CNRS and l’École Normale Supérieure, at Paris.


The IAFOR Silk Road Initiative had its first pilot roundtable meeting today, attended by some thirty academics from around the world, and chaired by IAFOR Chairman, Dr Joseph Haldane and his co-director colleagues at Osaka University’s OSIPP-IAFOR Research Centre. The scope of the initiative was discussed, as was leveraging IAFOR’s existent global network of individuals, institutions and events, in order to encourage collaborations with other networks.

The meeting included academics from the US, the UK, France, Russia, Serbia, Japan, the Philippines, and also included Dean Michael Anthony C. Vasco from the University of Santo Tomas, Asia’s oldest university, who talked about the recent opening of the university’s vast manuscript archive to researchers, and the opportunities this affords.

Hosted by The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2017 (ACAH2017), the roundtable focussed on cultural and historical exchanges and encounters, as well as the great shared philosophical and artistic flows between east and west.