China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): Bridging Disciplines, Theories and Methods in the Research on its Impacts on Southeast Asia?

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Abstract

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is still work in progress. However, this multi-billion dollar project already impacts economically and strategically on all participating regions and countries. Southeast Asia is particularly affected, as both the land-based and the maritime silk road pass through the region. Consequently, economists, human geographers, cultural anthropologists, sociologists, Area Studies, Sinology, International Relations scholars, experts from Global History and other disciplines examine the implications of BRI at different levels of analysis, e.g. the region, individual countries, cities or local communities. The assessments so far differ grossly between those which see BRI – in line with the Chinese official voices – as a new, alternative Southern driven version of globalization, those which see it as the onset of a new imperialism, and those which see the rise of a culturally different mode of international relations, based on traditional Chinese concepts.

This panel aims to discuss different disciplinary, theoretical and methodological approaches to understand the ramifications of BRI on Southeast Asian politics, economics, culture and society. The strengths and weaknesses of mono-disciplinary approaches will be critically reflected. An objective is to debate whether applying inter- and transdisciplinary approaches can help us shedding new lights on BRI. The panel asks which disciplinary and theoretical combinations are both scientifically sound and provide analytically an added value. Other questions are, inter alia, how inter-disciplinary research on BRI can be promoted and how journal editors or funding institutions react to inter-disciplinary research articles and projects.

We invite scholars from all fields examining various or specific impacts of BRI both from a disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspective.