Research Links

This page provides an overview of academic research projects working on the anthropology/geography of the Belt and Road in Central Asia.

China, Law and Development

University of Oxford, PI Matthew Erie

The “China, Law and Development” project (CLD), funded by the European Research Council, is a 5-year, interdisciplinary and multi-sited research project that aims to understand the nature of order that underlies China’s new globalism, an order that has multiple sources, one of which may be law.

This project breaks new ground in analyzing Chinese approaches to “law and development” in recipient or host states in the global South. The research emphasizes a rigorously empirical design with the aim of providing neutral academic analysis on one of the most important questions of the twenty-first century: what does China’s emergence in the law and development field mean for the world?

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University of Zurich, PI Agnieszka Joniak-Luthi

RoadWork: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders is a four-year research project (2018-2022) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and based at the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the University of Zurich. The project team will conduct ethnographic fieldwork along roads that have been designated as key links at the Sino-Inner Asian interface of the China-initiated Silk Road Economic Belt. Archival research and GIS analysis, two further research methods employed by the team, will help to identify social relations and temporalities that are difficult to capture through ethnography, but which nonetheless powerfully affect roads and travel in this region of Asia. The conceptual aim of the project is to propose a novel framework to theorize the social life of roads through a dialogue with the concepts of place and time, and to bring decay and maintenance to the centre of anthropological enquiry.

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