CfP: IQAS “China beyond China: Infrastructuring and Ecologizing a New Global Hegemony?” Manuscript Proposal (Deadline: 2020-10-15)


This Special Issue focuses on the extent to which the manifold processes of “infrastructuring” and “ecologizing” the globe, not least through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), point to or question the prospect of a new Chinese global hegemony. We focus on these issues, given first, the centrality of the BRI in China’s “pivot to the World” and the discursive emergence of “green”, “digital,” and “health” versions of it. Second, we see a promising source of analysis arising from juxtaposing China’s claim to global environmental leadership, on the one hand, and the Chinese-led expansion of both low- and high-carbon technologies and infrastructures, on the other. Third, bringing together issues of infrastructure, ecology, and hegemony is itself key to understanding the new sources of global legitimacy that China aspires to tap into; e.g. by building the image of a “constructive hegemon” wherever pertinent, and by projecting strategic assertiveness whenever necessary. In turn, this raises questions of how and to what extent China’s overseas initiatives can contribute to the building of a new “global community with a shared future” while perhaps simultaneously contributing to the further consolidation of “diminished multilateralism” (Rüland 2012) and/or deepening of global crises.

In this light, we emphasize issues of socio-natural relations (e.g. of climate change and energy transitions) and emergent socio-technical systems (e.g. of the emergent digital sphere) and possibly their conjunction (as in mega-projects of digital infrastructure/cyberspace infrastructuring, renewable energy, circular and/or “bioeconomy” projects). By asking how China moves beyond China, we are interested in research that focuses on these arenas and promises qualitative insight, not just quantitative extrapolation, regarding emergent Sino-global pathways and futures. Specifically, we invite explorations of the transnational and localized actors, processes, and practices involving the construction of a hegemonic China in world-regions including but not limited to Africa, Asia, Eastern/Southern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.

In short, this Special Issue invites contributions that explore case studies of Chinese projects in the fields of environmental policy, energy transition, infrastructure, digital innovation, circular economy, and/or bioeconomy. We welcome articles that do not claim to present a definitive normative judgement regarding the rise of China (or specific case studies thereof). Instead, we welcome theoretically informed and empirically driven research that presents a differentiated understanding of the complex dynamics at play, and to hold open which China (or which Chinas, in the plural) may yet emerge and perhaps merge into a new phenomenon of global hegemony.

Research on the following subjects is thus invited:
–The (digital) Belt & Road Initiative(s) as a transnational sphere of influence and contestations thereof in terms of democracy and authoritarianism
–Cross-sectoral projects involving agriculture, digitalization, and infrastructure as well as their implications for food sovereignty and sustainable farming practices
–Climate politics and/or sustainable innovations outside China, particularly in the context of power/knowledge configurations and low-carbon transitions
–Promotion and implementation of Chinese policy narratives such as the Green Belt & Road, Ecological Civilisation, the Health Silk Road, etc.
–Transitional pathways and the political economy of bio-based production, bio-tech innovation, and circular economies in Chinese-funded projects
–Multi-scalar dynamics and implications of Chinese overseas investments in renewable energy and their potentially conflicting meanings in terms of global power relations

Prospective contributors to the Special Issue are invited to send a short 300-500-word proposal to the guest editors at: or by 15 October 2020

The proposal should detail the empirical focus and main research questions addressed. Selected contributors will be invited to submit their full article for peer review by 29 January 2021 with a prospective publication in IQAS in fall 2021/spring 2021.