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Silk Road Urbanization: Cities, Infrastructure-led development and Global Inequality

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Fleur Nash.

In this talk, we will discuss the links between infrastructure-led development, urban transformation and inequality in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI , also called the New Silk Road, is the largest single infrastructure project since the Marshall Plan and an exemplar of a new type of infrastructure-led development of a scope and scale that has no precedent in modern history. It involves 140 countries and influences more than 65% of the world’s population. As increasing evidence shows, the New Silk Road is rapidly becoming a global agent of massive urban transformation. By combining large-scale infrastructure with industrial projects and major investments in the built environment, it transforms cities to financial, tourist and trade hubs profoundly changing urban places, socionatures and livelihoods. Nonetheless, its role for urban development remains under-explored whereas comparative grounded studies are rare. By drawing on urban geography and urban political ecology, postcolonial geographies, and global urbanism, my goal is to offer a relational analysis of divergent trajectories of urban change driven by BRI projects in cities across the Global South and North. The key argument I aim to advance is that urban transformation driven by the BRI signals the emergence of a new form of urbanization which I term Silk Road Urbanization that is reconfiguring the patterns of urban inequality across the globe.

The talk is largely based on this (open-access) paper in Antipode: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/anti.12699

This talk is part of the Political Ecology Group meetings series.

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