New roads are being constructed at unprecedented rates in certain parts of the world. The proposed research will ask: Why? To what end? Who benefits? What ideas lie in the foundations of this new infrastructure? Roads are presented as solutions to poverty, ‘development’ and economic growth? Are they? In what ways? What else might roads do? As cheap oil dwindles and questions of climate change remain, why are so many international institutions cultivating new roads?
The project will provide the first ethnographic account of the culture of road builders, their knowledge practices, inter-relations and motivations. The research will be rooted in case studies of particular road projects in Pakistan, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka. These sites have been selected to bring to the fore how nation-building, neo-liberalism, ambition, environmental vulnerability and modernity feature in contemporary road-building. We will look at the organisation of road building on the ground, in offices, and within a broader array of institutions and state bodies in national and international contexts in order to understand the global cultures of road-building practice.
The project is academic in design and will contribute to various pressing and critical debates relating to power, global justice and environmental futures. The subject also merits wider discussion and at the core of the research design is an innovative collaboration between anthropologists and leading contemporary artists.
Call for proposal
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Funding SchemeERC-CG - ERC Consolidator Grants