Understanding borders through dynamic processes. Capturing relational motion from southwest China’s radiation center, Yunnan province.

Authors: Thomas Ptak*, University of Idaho
Topics: China, Asia, Political Geography
Keywords: Borders, China, Yunnan
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Maryland C, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Dynamic processes, phenomena and responses associated with rapid development emanating in—and radiating out from Yunnan province in Southwest China—have not received sufficient attention for their implications on borders and borderlands. Succinctly capturing and understanding empirical outcomes of China’s current development initiatives in border areas presents multiple challenges for researchers, due in part to highly dynamic spatial and temporal characteristics along with access constraints and security concerns. Drawing from ongoing empirical research in Yunnan, this paper advances existing theoretical arguments concerning mobile borders, border flows and transboundary dynamics through analysis of emergent projects positioned under the auspices of China’s contemporary One Belt One Road initiative.
Insights presented in this paper reflect one component of a broader project seeking to advance current understandings of the dynamic, multiscalar and multidimensional nature of borders and borderlands by analyzing processes—rather than borders or borderlands exclusively. The focus on bordering processes, rather than borders or borderlands as time specific snapshots of bordering, offers a new theoretical framework of ‘relational motion’ to inform studies analyzing the complex and fluid nature of phenomena linked to borders and bordering. This research provides a framework for better understanding how border phenomena are shaped by a diverse range of policies, problems, opportunities and initiatives in ways connective and discrete, distinct and obscure, theoretical and empirical.

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