The Social Life of Chinese Infrastructures in Southeast Asia
May 19 2021 – May 21 2021 at the National University of Singapore
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.
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.
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
AbdouMaliq Simone, Senior Professorial Fellow at the Urban Institute, University of Sheffield.
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
Sam Geall, China Dialogue & University of Sussex
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
Kesone Kanhalikham, Chiang Mai University
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