Passages to Hunza — From caravan raiding to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor by Hermann Kreutzman

Date & Time

Nov 4, 2020 11:00 AM


Trainee Centre Online


The Hunza Valley has functioned as a thoroughfare for pilgrims and spies, traders and travellers on their way from South Asian down country to Kashgar and Central Asian oases for centuries. People from Hunza were actively engaged in slave trade and caravan raiding until the second half of the 19th century. Exchange relations significantly transformed and reached a new level during the 20th century. The modernisation paradigm and developmentalism reached the Karakoram valleys. The construction of motor roads through the Hunza Valley was idealised as a means of development and integration since the beginning of the ideological antagonism between East and West. In the talk I would like to present some findings from recent research about road-making, external interferences and their effects that have led to the construction of the Karakoram Highway. A new kind of relationship emerged in recent years with the announcement of a China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which has drawn new players to become interested into the Hunza Valley and its economic potential. Fears of land-grabbing and sell-out of valuable resources, loss of control in decision-making and external domination are characterising ongoing discussions. Inherited land rights and local rules and regulations about outsiders’ exclusion are under severe pressure and have caused internal unrest. Present challenges and constraints have led to a limbo in an environment where constitutional liminality and socio-economic modernisation seem to be the increasingly questioned guiding principles of exchange relations.


Prof. em. Dr. Hermann Kreutzmann

Centre for Development Studies (ZELF)
Institute of Geographic Sciences
Department of Earth Science
Freie Universität Berlin