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Infrastructures and b/ordering: how Chinese projects are ordering China–Myanmar border spaces


Dean, Karin; Sarma, Jasnea; Rippa, Alessandro (2022). Infrastructures and b/ordering: how Chinese projects are ordering China–Myanmar border spaces. Territory, Politics, Governance:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

Border regions worldwide have gained prominence for how nation-states order, divide and understand the world. This is increasingly made explicit in the selective management of global commercial and human flows, leading to a paradoxical development and a major dilemma for the contemporary bordering practices in border regions: that of concurrently facilitating differentiated mobility while ensuring territorial integrity, securing both territories and flows. This paper argues that large-scale transnational infrastructures, by controlling, facilitating and channelizing cross-border mobilities, have emerged as a major instrument of b/ordering space in borderlands. This is especially relevant in Asia, where transnational, cross-border connectivity infrastructure projects have mushroomed, supported by political rhetoric, big budgets and diplomatic vigour. Grounded in long-term ethnographic research, the paper scrutinizes variegated infrastructure spaces in the seemingly remote and conflict-riddled borderlands between China’s Yunnan province and northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, subject to intensive Chinese infrastructure developments since the mid-1990s, further accelerated by the launch of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2015. The paper argues that infrastructures such as roads, plantations and special economic zones have started to regulate these volatile and contested borderlands more effectively than the official boundaries that delimit complex territorialities in the border region.

Abstract

Border regions worldwide have gained prominence for how nation-states order, divide and understand the world. This is increasingly made explicit in the selective management of global commercial and human flows, leading to a paradoxical development and a major dilemma for the contemporary bordering practices in border regions: that of concurrently facilitating differentiated mobility while ensuring territorial integrity, securing both territories and flows. This paper argues that large-scale transnational infrastructures, by controlling, facilitating and channelizing cross-border mobilities, have emerged as a major instrument of b/ordering space in borderlands. This is especially relevant in Asia, where transnational, cross-border connectivity infrastructure projects have mushroomed, supported by political rhetoric, big budgets and diplomatic vigour. Grounded in long-term ethnographic research, the paper scrutinizes variegated infrastructure spaces in the seemingly remote and conflict-riddled borderlands between China’s Yunnan province and northern Myanmar’s Kachin state, subject to intensive Chinese infrastructure developments since the mid-1990s, further accelerated by the launch of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2015. The paper argues that infrastructures such as roads, plantations and special economic zones have started to regulate these volatile and contested borderlands more effectively than the official boundaries that delimit complex territorialities in the border region.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Geography, Planning and Development
Social Sciences & Humanities > Political Science and International Relations
Uncontrolled Keywords:Political Science and International Relations, Geography, Planning and Development
Language:English
Date:5 October 2022
Deposited On:03 Mar 2023 08:22
Last Modified:29 Apr 2024 01:36
Publisher:Routledge
ISSN:2162-2671
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/21622671.2022.2108892
Project Information:
  • : FunderSchool of Humanities, Tallinn University
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  • : FunderThe Lee Kong Chien Graduate Fellowship and the Graduate Fieldwork Research Fellowship
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  • : FunderFASS)
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  • : FunderNational University of Singapore
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  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)