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Visuality and Infrastructure: The Case of the Belt and Road Initiative

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Abstract

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has become the largest infrastructure programme in history, and has become a symbol in itself of growing significance of China and its power. This chapter aims to analyse visual representations of the BRI and will focus on the visual politics of the spatial imaginary of the BRI. Considering BRI as a representational discourse (Sykes & Shaw, 2018) the chapter will interrogate the immediate materiality of the BRI and the symbolism of its “spectacle.” The chapter will fill the existing gap by focusing on the visualization of BRI, identifiying iconic elements, and narratives, and putting them to a visual sociological scrutiny. The chapter uses the existing visual material (photos, drawings, and documentary films as well as promotional material as the sources of data).

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Will the China’s Belt and Road Initiative outdo the Marshall Plan? The Economist. Retrieved on January 2022, from https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2018/03/08/will-chinas-belt-and-road-initiative-outdo-the-marshall-plan.

  2. 2.

    Planet China: What to make of the Belt and Road Initiative. The Economist. Retrieved on January 2022, from https://www.economist.com/weeklyedition/2018-07-28.

  3. 3.

    The pandemic is hurting China’s Belt and Road Inititative. The Economist. https://www.economist.com/china/2020/06/04/the-pandemic-is-hurting-chinas-belt-and-road-initiative

  4. 4.

    China Wants to Put itself back in the centre of the World. The Economist. Retrieved on January 2022, from https://www.economist.com/special-report/2020/02/06/china-wants-to-put-itself-back-at-the-centre-of-the-world.

  5. 5.

    The digital side of the Belt and Road Initiative is growing. The Economist. Retrieved on January 2022, from https://www.economist.com/special-report/2020/02/06/the-digital-side-of-the-belt-and-road-initiative-is-growing.

  6. 6.

    One Belt One Road, part 1, “Common Destiny,” 共同命运。 Retrieved on January 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgUJX5X_xNE.

  7. 7.

    The New Silk Road, Part 1: From China to Pakistan. DW Documentary. Retrieved on January 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cUxw9Re-Z-E&t=18s.

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Acknowledgements

I extend my gratitude for the right to reproduce the artwork by Jac Depczyk and Sébastien Thibault which is used in this article and allows to better see the world around us. I also thank Paulo Duarte for his valuable comments on this chapter.

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Zuev, D. (2023). Visuality and Infrastructure: The Case of the Belt and Road Initiative. In: Duarte, P.A.B., Leandro, F.J.B.S., Galán, E.M. (eds) The Palgrave Handbook of Globalization with Chinese Characteristics. Palgrave Macmillan, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-19-6700-9_18

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