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James D. Sidaway, Professor of Political Geography, National University of Singapore
Taking stock of earlier and current case studies this paper focuses on theoretical implications of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as it edges closer to its second decade in 2023. Amongst the questions considered are the theorization of scale and volume, sovereignty and territory, meanings of the urban, geopolitics, logistics, mobility, economy, and power. What are the implications for area studies, including Southeast Asian Studies? Related to these are questions about the geography of knowledge production, theory, comparison and historiography. The paper is a theoretical stock-taking and reflection, less about BRI, than through it. It is therefore neither another account of what BRI is nor about “Research agendas raised by BRI” (Sidaway et al, 2020). Instead, the paper aims to develop explicitly theoretically committed reflection from BRI.