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"Neighbouring China. Ancient crossroads, new connections, and the dynamics of Asian Regionalism."


"This research is concerned with the effects of China's rise on its immediate neighbours – the communities and ethnic groups living along its borders.

Over the past two decades, most of the border disputes between China and its neighbours were settled. The Party State has since begun to pursue a strategy of active engagement with its neighbouring states. This strategy includes fostering cross-border trade, efforts to obtain access to natural resources, and increasingly tight security along the borders in order to manage potential unrest. These policies have created new opportunities but also new restrictions. Rising China – the nation, the notion, the buzzword – channels aspirations and triggers fears.

The borderlands surrounding China, once unruly frontier zones between empires and junctures of ancient trade routes, have again acquired geopolitical relevance – as pathways of the global economy's flows of raw materials, goods, and people, and as hotspots of ethnic tension. They are the joints that hinge Asia as a region together, and they serve as testing grounds for China's extraterritorial ""special zones"" and development-cum-investment deals (which, with Hungary signing such a deal in July 2011, have now also reached Europe).

This study is the first to conceptualise the territories bordering China as a coherent geographic configuration. It transcends the traditional boundaries of area studies in order to analyse the dynamic re-making of Asia and its growing significance in the world. Taking border regions instead of nation states as a starting point, the project develops the notion of ""neighbouring"" as an analytic lens to comprehend the changing nature of borders in the 21st century.

The applicant has carried out research in the Sino-Russian and Sino-Nepalese borderlands. During the fellowship he seeks to extend his expertise to a third Central Asian field site, for which the host institution is among the leading research centres in Europe."

Call for proposal

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Geschwister scholl platz 1
80539 Muenchen

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Administrative Contact
Martin Sökefeld (Prof.)
EU contribution
No data