Scrambling for infrastructure investments: A comparative perspective on regional planning’s revival

Authors: Juan Miguel Kanai*, University of Sheffield, Seth Schindler*,
Topics: Urban Geography, Urban and Regional Planning, Development
Keywords: infrastructure-led development, planetary urbanization, comparative urbanism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Balcony A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In this presentation I will reflect on the planetary expansion of infrastructure space as a process that is globally articulated yet also marked by geographical unevenness. I will introduce the notions of infrastructure-led development and regional planning revival as means to engage the proliferation of connective infrastructure megaprojects across emerging and frontier economies, and bring these initiatives into a comparative dialogue that can help trace their common origins, shared dynamics and complex interactions. The analysis will touch upon global attempts to coordinate capital investments in risky infrastructure projects as those carried out by the World Bank and the G20 and the growing geopolitical rivalry between the US and China in what concerns infrastructure financing. I will argue that these ‘genetic’ notions of how projects come about are helpful to think the infrastructure scramble in relational terms. In the second part of the presentation, I will turn to localized conditions in the new urban spaces shaped by such infrastructures, and argue for the need of generative comparisons to better understand how they are experienced, lived and negotiated on the ground. I will conclude with the argument that ‘generative’ comparisons can be useful in processes of mutual learning and alliance-building from below. I will use a collaborative project that I have working on for the past several years as empirical reference, including illustrative cases from South America, East Africa and South Asia.

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