The Techno-politics of the "China Model" of development

Type: Virtual Paper
Sponsor Groups: China Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 11:10 AM / 12:25 PM (PDT)
Room: Virtual 46
Organizers: Tim Oakes
Chairs: Tim Oakes


In the context of an increasingly global China, this panel is premised on the need for a different approach to understanding the underlying basis of the ‘China model’ of infrastructure development currently being exported throughout much of the global south under the ubiquitous catch-all label of the ‘Belt & Road Initiative.’ The presentations collected here suggest three key arguments underlying this need. First, the academic focus on geopolitical strategies and international-relations aspects of the model detracts from an analysis of the infrastructures themselves, and, more specifically, their materialities and techno-political dimensions. We thus explore everyday infrastructural technologies as a nuanced lens for capturing less apparent aspects of state formation and reproduction in and beyond China. Second, when infrastructures have been considered, they are typically large-scale projects that convey state power in highly visible ways. But the China model also produces less visible everyday infrastructures that are still deployed in ways meant to enhance state control and social governability. Third, rather than viewing initiatives like the BRI solely as products of China’s engagement with global capitalism, we approach the infrastructural emphasis of the China model as emerging from a legacy of socialist state-making and distinct institutional formations that continue to shape development in China today. This panel will demonstrate different approaches to the techno-politics and materialities of Chinese infrastructure development at the scale of everyday technologies, offering a collective case for how an infrastructural lens can help us understanding state formation and politics in the context of global China.


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Darren Byler*, University of Colorado, Convenience Stations: Infrastructural Power and Mobility in Northwest China 15 11:10 AM
Presenter Jianqing Chen*, , The History of Chinese Wireless and Mobile Networks Infrastructures (1988-2020) 15 11:25 AM
Presenter Timothy Karis*, University of Florida, Elevated Tensions: Contested Chinese Influence in the Construction of the Hanoi Metro 15 11:40 AM
Presenter Adam Liebman*, , Infrastructures of Waste and Infrastructure as Waste in Urban China 15 11:55 AM
Discussant Tim Oakes University of Colorado 15 12:10 PM

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