The age of infrastructure: China as a global urban agent (AGORA), funded by the University of Manchester Research Institute, seeks to explore how Chinese infrastructural investment reconfigures relations between cities, regions and nation states. The project investigates initiatives that integrate frontiers of resource extraction with dedicated centres of production (such as special economic zones), linked to China via a growing global intermodal logistics network. It highlights the existence of a particularly urban form of transregional development, where growth is achieved through connectivities between economic hubs. Our starting point is that understanding China’s global infrastructural presence can reveal wider contradictions and contingencies in the changing planetary relationship between cities, states and market-led development. The project involves case study work and network building among relevant stakeholders in academia, government, business and the third sector.
The AGORA network will help consolidate and develop the University of Manchester’s already strong research portfolio in examining the political governance, material development and everyday use of large technical systems in cities. Through the case studies – and underpinned by a scoping review, interactive website, field visits and international workshop – we will develop and strengthen comprehensive expertise across a variety of sectors: energy, transport, digital economies and low-carbon development.
Researchers involved in the project include Stefan Bouzarovski (PI), Nuno Gil (Co-PI), Peter Gries (Co-PI), Penelope Harvey (Co-PI), Seth Schindler (Co-PI), Mathaios Panteli (Co-PI), Kevin Ward (Co-PI), and Cecilia Wong (Co-PI).