Third China Made Workshop

The Social Life of Chinese Infrastructures in Southeast Asia

第三次中国制造学术研讨会: 东南亚中国基础设施的社会生活

May 17 2021 – May 20 2021 at the National University of Singapore

Workshop Overview:


This workshop will bring together scholars from different fields in the social sciences and humanities to discuss contemporary Chinese infrastructure development in Southeast Asia. By placing empirically grounded research projects in conversation with theoretical work on materiality and techno-politics, the workshop will center on the lived experience of infrastructure built through public and private Chinese development initiatives and investments. The workshop starts from the assumption that the domestic “China Model” of economic and political development centers on infrastructure: the construction of roads, dams, electric grids, pipelines, airports and cities. Over the past two decades this has been extended further into social life through digital infrastructures, surveillance and media systems, transportation platforms, logistics systems, and the commercial infrastructures of brands and franchises. Taken together these infrastructural systems extend particular logics and shape life experience in deeply felt ways. The goal of this workshop is thus to examine how Chinese infrastructures transform the social worlds and natural landscapes that they encounter as they move beyond China into Southeast Asia—often framed as the first segment of the Belt and Road Initiative—and how these infrastructures, are in turn, transformed.

Workshop Objectives:


The workshop will focus on fine-grained investigations of Chinese infrastructures in Southeast Asia, including the political, social, cultural, spatial, and environmental dimensions of infrastructure planning, construction, and use. By way of such an approach, the workshop aims to provide rich ethnographic studies and empirically rigorous projects that problematize the China model of development as well as assumptions regarding its effects. In doing this the workshop will seek to show that Chinese infrastructure development is shaped by more than China’s geopolitical ambitions, desires for market expansion, and the need for a spatial fix for Chinese surplus capital. It may, for example, demonstrate that infrastructures, thought of as a complex assemblages with particular dispositions, can also produce their own logics, propulsions and power over life. The workshop strives to produce new synergies across disciplines and areas of research, while intervening in critical theoretical discussions of infrastructure in social science and humanities scholarship in and outside of China and Southeast Asian Studies.

To register to attend please follow this link.

 Paper presenters will be required to submit an extended abstract of 800-1,000 by 1 February 2021 and final draft paper of 5,000-8,000 words by 19 April 2021. Please submit all materials and requests for further information to



Darren Byler – Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Asian Studies, University of Colorado Boulder

Tim Oakes – Professor of Geography, University of Colorado Boulder

Yang Yang – Postdoctoral Fellow, Asia Research Center, National University of Singapore

Tim Bunnell – Associate Professor of Geography, National University of Singapore

Rachel Silvey – Professor of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto

Keynote Speaker

AbdouMaliq Simone, Senior Professorial Fellow at the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield.

Invited Participants

Geoffrey Aung (Soe Lin Aung), Columbia University

Wanjing Kelly Chen, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

Karin Dean, Tallinn University

Jessica DiCarlo, University of Colorado Boulder

Michael Dwyer, Indiana University

Solène Gautron, Heidelberg University

W. Nathan Green & Yi Rosa, National University of Singapore

Tyler Harlan & Juliet Lu, Marymount University & Cornell University

Angela Min Yi Hou, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies

Ting Hui Lau, Yale-NUS College, Singapore

Zixian Liu, University of Toronto

Simon Rowedder, National University of Singapore

Panitda Saiyarod, University of Cologne

Elena Shih, Brown University

Angela Tritto & Alvin Camba, Hong Kong University of Science & Technology & John Hopkins University

Sarah Turner, Binh Nguyen & Madeleine Hykes, McGill University

Trissia Wijaya & Gatra Priyandita, Murdoch University & Australian National University

Courtney Wittekind, Harvard University

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