Click the star to add/remove an item to/from your individual schedule.
You need to be logged in to avail of this functionality, and to see the links to virtual rooms.

Accepted Paper:

Spectacular Futures, Development Brokers, and Bankrupt Vistas in Post-war Sri Lanka  
Thiruni Kelegama (University of Oxford, UK)

Paper Short Abstract:

Sri Lanka's infrastructure boom, backed by Chinese loans for financial hub ambitions, halted with bankruptcy. This paper examines if such projects serve nationalist goals, affecting socio-political dynamics, and raises concerns about Chinese influence in Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean.

Paper Abstract:

Until Sri Lanka declared bankruptcy, it was in the midst of an uneven and contested infrastructure boom with investment directed into roads, ports, and airports funded by Chinese loans driven by its ambitions to become a ‘world-class’ financial trading hub in South Asia. These projects were promoted by successive governments as the panacea for a politically and economically fractured Sri Lanka after a three-decade civil war. The latest and biggest project in the country to date is the Colombo Port City project, which involves reclaiming 269ha land from the Indian Ocean. Responding to the call for a more grounded understanding of mega-infrastructure projects (Ruwanpura, Rowe, and Chan, 2020), this paper will first examine how China-backed mega-development projects like the Port City are built and will focus on who plans and manages these projects. Conceptualising the Colombo Port City Economic Commission as powerful elite brokers, and building on ethnographic work and interviews, I ask if these projects are merely about ‘asserting power of a triumphalist nationalist project’ (Venugopal, 2018), or if they will only further open up ‘up ‘new spaces for violence and political manipulation’ (Winslow and Woost, 2004). The paper concludes by asking who this development and reimagined post-war Sri Lanka is for, and if these projects which open up the newest frontier of the ocean are conduits through which Chinese sovereignty can be asserted in Sri Lanka, and in the Indian Ocean.

Panel P171
Waterfront speculation: doing and undoing maritime urban spaces
  Session 1 Wednesday 24 July, 2024, -