From transportation to urbanization, energy and digitalization, China-backed projects of infrastructural development are increasingly common throughout Southeast Asia and the global South as both a means and outcome of development. This trend has accelerated since China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. Against this backdrop, the present ASEAS issue invites to rethink the roles infrastructure plays in forms of development that place connectivity at the center.
Exploring how the dialectics of infrastructure and mobility manifests itself on the ground, this special issue features five empirical case studies which address various mobility infrastructures in the Thailand-Laos borderlands, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia. These five current research articles are complemented by two research workshop articles, which critically assess the conceptual linkage between infrastructures and mobility in the Chinese context. Taken together, these contributions complicate and complete the understanding of China’s BRI and notions of global China in general. In particular, they show how visions and designs, or promises, of infrastructure cause both intended and unintended mobilities, or plainly immobilities or forced displacements, while they also mobilize, and are mobilized by, various actors with their potential interests, aspirations, skepticism, and resistance.
Phill Wilcox & Susanne Brandtstädter
Simon Rowedder, 2019 (Laos, Oudomxay Province, construction of the China-Laos Railway)