China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the emerging geographies of global urbanization

Joseph Williams, Caitlin Robinson, Stefan Bouzarovski

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Abstract

China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is heralded as the largest investment in infrastructure in history and is expected to re‐shape the geographies of urbanization in the coming decades. In this paper we review the burgeoning, yet still embryonic literature on the BRI. Our aim is to move beyond currently dominant framings of the BRI as a geopolitical or economic strategy that tend to overlook the complex embeddedness of infrastructure. Drawing on theories of planetary urbanization, we argue that the BRI constitutes a form of urbanization that is bound up with the socio‐spatial and ecological restructuring of global capitalism. We illustrate this by mapping and analysing energy projects under the BRI. Overall, we outline a research agenda on the BRI that calls for: 1) a more nuanced analysis of its spatial and scalar politics; 2) approaching the BRI as a distinctly urban question; and 3) a disruption of the dominant China‐centric discussions through critical in‐depth case‐study analysis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Geographical Journal
Early online date30 Sept 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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