Africa’s Infrastructure Globalities

Rethinking Political Geographies from the Global South

This new project started in March 2018 and will offer a novel understanding of how emerging powers challenge traditional theory and practice of international relations: through taking infrastructure sites and practices as starting point.

Chinese and Brazilian companies are now the most important bilateral investors in Africa. They apply existing rules, but also introduce new practices of governance and business-society relations that compete with Western norms. However, the nature and impact of these emerging new practices is little understood.

Funded through an ERC Starting Grant this new 5-year project will research how models and experiences of actors from the Global South (i.e., Africa, Asia, Latin America) redefine the governance of economic hubs globally.

Lead by Jana Hoenke, the INFRAGLOB team will

  • analyse the ideas driving Chinese and Brazilian management of large-scale port and mining projects,
  • conduct multi-sited ethnographic research in Mozambique, Tanzania, Brazil and China to establish how these concepts are enacted, negotiated and disregarded in practice,
  • research how this is affected by transnational mobilisation and infrastructure controversies across the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic,
  • establish how these new actors and practices change existing attempts of globally regulating transnational business, by tracing change through transnational communities of practice in the case of UN guidelines for business and in social safeguard regulations of multilateral banks.