ASIA 297Spring

Renewal of Ancient Routes in East Asia

Gain a deeper insight of the ways in which the “ancient” is turning “new” in East Asia
Ignacio Ramos (Tachi) 达奇
Course Introduction
Ignacio Ramos (Tachi) 达奇

Ignacio Ramos (Tachi) 达奇

Ph.D. Goethe Universität Frankfurt am Main

Academic Advisor and Professor

Ignacio (Tachi) has been researching and publishing for the last several years, with a focus on bridging Eastern and Western cultural traditions. Through his polyglot exposure to different friends and countries Tachi is enthusiastic about inspiring intercultural encounters for a world often lacking mutual understanding. TBC means for him a platform to take care of this long-range engagement. Check his work out on: Official WeChat: elcamino_chinese and

  • Walking in Nature
  • Linguistics and Etymology
  • Sports
  • Playing Guitar and Singing
  • Engaging in Environmental Activities

Renewal of Ancient Routes in East Asia

This course is accredited through Loyola University Chicago
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Course Description

This course will explore the surprising contemporary unfolding of some key Ancient Routes of East Asia by reading texts, visiting some milestones of those paths and making some simple but meaningful contribution within that renewal. The goal is to see how some ancient East-Asian routes, in their origin respectively conceived to reach different (commercial, spiritual, administrative, socio-religious, military, etc.) aims, are developing as ways of modern global multi-cultural encounters, in fact functioning as “cultural corridors”.

Globalization is inviting people from every corner of the world to smell and touch other human experiences with enough ancient taste to be considered as defining a “given culture”. This process goes on also in China and East Asia where the amount of national and international tourists is on the rise. People are on the search for paths of leisure, authenticity and immediacy with nature or history. State and institutional power along with the thirst for novelty and spiritual curiosity are colliding over these old routes and producing new touristic offers, unseen cultural products, attractive opportunities for self- and communal-development.

Capitalizing on my ongoing experience of proposing in China the “Camino de Santiago as a global cultural phenomenon” (Wechat Platform 圣雅各之路, ID: elcamino_chinese; Website:, and seeing that arises so much interest here, this course will be a lens to focus on phenomena as diverse (or, in my view, heuristically similar) as丝绸之路 “The Silk Road” (with its new revival through the 一带一路 “One Belt, One Road” project), 五岳之道 “The Route of the Five Sacred Mountains”, 转山 “The Tibetan Pilgrimage”, 茶马古道 “The Ancient Tea Horse Road”, 京杭大运河 “The Grand Canal” (from Beijing to Hangzhou), 四国遍路 “The Shikoku Pilgrimage” (walk around the smallest island of Japan, according to the sacred Shintoist tradition), 长城 “The Great Wall”, 环岛 “Trip around the island” in Taiwan, etc.; phenomena which attract each year thousands and thousands of walkers and cyclists, tourists, businessmen, official institutions, investors, publishing houses and so on. We will read meaningful texts, visit relevant sites and conduct conversations with engaged actors and actresses, in order to gain a deeper insight of the ways in which the “ancient” is turning “new” in East Asia.

Courses Outcomes

This course looks at the ways in which globalization is taking root in China and its entourage, by focusing on the current tendency of “experiencing a revival of the ancient”. By visiting some of these spots and paths of renewal, talking to engaged people, reading relevant texts, students will gain a grasp of how East-Asian individuals are reinterpreting their personal, historical and cultural identity.

Some of the key topics to be explored and questions to be answered are:

  • Regardless of what was in their origin the main reason of their existence as “paths to be traversed”, or which is nowadays the main interest which leads their different travelers to move through them, these routes are producing a similar outcome: first-hand international and intercultural exchange. What makes of this exchange –regarding the different cases- a source of prejudice, distant-proximity, dull consumption of exotic settings or rather a source of lasting admiration, friendship, intercultural respect?
  • These “old ways” are not in the least losing their momentum and tend to act as “cultural corridors” where -in an increasingly global and international way- goods and participants cross their paths and create new cultural scenes not yet seen in history. Implies this a defilement of the original? What is the role this revival plays in globalized China for individuals, for politics, for local communities?
  • The Camino de Santiago is just a version –in a European setting and with its own particularities- of the same kind of phenomenon. Accordingly, it is drawing more and more Chinese tourists and pilgrims to walk it. How does this interest merge with the fascination for the West? Which elements counterbalance in this “revival of an Ancient Routes” the environmental mistrust and suspicion towards the West among Chinese citizens?
  • These “cultural corridors” display in many cases the potential of a raising force opposing “nationalism” and countering the always understandable biased relationships among citizens of different countries. Which institutional forces oppose this kind of development in China, East-Asia and for which reasons?
  • In the hypothesis of a war or open conflict of civilizations what would be the role of these renewed ancient routes?