related work

events, conferences, calls for papers

CFP | Crossing the River by Feeling the Stones: Alternative Imaginaries of China’s Presence in Southeast Asia in Contemporary Contexts, 27 May 2020 – 28 May 2020, National University of Singapore


South China Morning Post: “China’s top 10 infrastructure projects for 2020 and beyond that will help boost its slowing economy” (January 28, 2020)

The New York Times: “How Dams and China’s Might Imperil the Mekong” (October 12, 2019)

The New York Times: “Fearing ‘Spy Trains,’ Congress May Ban a Chinese Maker of Subway Cars” (September 14, 2019)

South China Morning Post: “China’s belt and road cargo to Europe under scrutiny as operator admits to moving empty containers” (August 20, 2019)

South China Morning Post: “Next Hambantota? Welcome to the Chinese-funded US$1.4 billion Port City Colombo in Sri Lanka” (May 12, 2019)

South China Morning Post: “China wants to fund Thailand’s US$12 billion high-speed railway – but is the kingdom on track for more debt than it can handle?” (April 24, 2019)

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The Silk Road: Geocultural & Geostrategic Futures. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is emerging as a vast platform of heritage diplomacy. It challenges us to develop new ways of thinking about diplomacy and great power competition, and how culture and history are used for political gain in the twenty-first Century. As multiple players invest in the idea of “reviving” the Silk Roads, we are seeing new forms of cultural globalization and strategic ties form across Eurasia and Africa.


AGORA: The age of infrastructure: China as a global urban agent, funded by the University of Manchester Research Institute, seeks to explore how Chinese infrastructural investment reconfigures relations between cities, regions and nation states.

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Reconnecting Asia: Reconnecting Asia maps new linkages—roads, railways, and other infrastructure—that are reshaping economic and geopolitical realities across the continent. Through data curation and objective analysis, the project aims to fill Asia’s infrastructure-information gap, squaring lofty ambitions with facts on the ground. Our methodology explains the science and art behind these efforts.


Making Modernity in East Asia: The main objective of Making Modernity in East Asia is to establish a new, interdisciplinary way of understanding East Asian modernity through the lens of everyday technology. Our focus on everyday technologies – the ordinary, unglamorous and widespread technologies used in our everyday life – shifts the emphasis from old, exhausted questions on “who invented what first”, or “technological failure, imitation or catching up”, to how technology was and is put to use in East Asia. The research team’s ambition is to build a sustainable platform to synergies research on this topic that has never been treated systematically, and to create in four years an Area of Excellence which will make Hong Kong the world research center for the study of technology and East Asian society. The project is affiliated with Hong Kong University.

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Road Work Asia: ‘ROADWORK: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders’ is a four-year research project (2018-2022) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and based at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the University of Zurich. The project team will conduct ethnographic fieldwork along roads that have been designated as key links at the Sino-Inner Asian interface of the China-initiated Silk Road Economic Belt. Archival research and GIS analysis, two further research methods employed by the team, will help to identify social relations and temporalities that are difficult to capture through ethnography, but which nonetheless powerfully affect roads and travel in this region of Asia. The conceptual aim of the project is to propose a novel framework to theorize the social life of roads through a dialogue with the concepts of place and time, and to bring decay and maintenance to the centre of anthropological enquiry.

TRANSECT – Agrarian Transformations and Social-Ecological Complexities: Local Bioeconomy Scenarios in Central and South Asia. The junior research group TRANSECT (2019-2024) at Eberswalde University for Sustainable Development (HNEE), Germany, investigates the social-ecological effects and interdependencies of agrarian transformations and bioeconomy developments in Central and South Asia. Focusing on case studies in Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, which have been subjected to vast agricultural interventions in the past, the research also draws attention to the current and future growth of China’s bioeconomy sector and its repercussions for neighbouring countries. Particularly infrastructural development framed in the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ are expected to shape future agricultural developments in the region. In the face of these changes, the research group provides in-depth analyses of local effects, opportunities and risks of agricultural intensification and other transformation pathways. Furthermore, we aim to generate a practice-oriented, integrative and participatory methodology in order to develop policy scenarios towards more socially just and ecologically sustainable bioeconomy pathways.

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