World Cafe and ZOiS Forum

On 28 November 2023, a World Café followed by a ZOiS Forum took place at the Centre for East European and International Studies (ZOiS).

At the World Café entitled „New Insights about the Belt and Road from (Eur)Asia to (East)Africa: Strategies, Narratives and Reactions“ (organized by PI Julia Langbein) scholars from all four research consortium partners presented results from their individual research projects regarding new insights and local perspectives on the BRI. Intensive discussions were held with the participants at five different tables that had different regional and thematic focuses. For more information about the tables’ topics, please refer to the World Café announcement:

Following the World Café, Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi (University of Fribourg, CH) and Jamila Adeli (HU Berlin) gave presentations in the ZOiS Forum entitled „Matters of Life: The Art of Infrastructure and Science“ and discussed together with the organizer of the ZOiS Forum, Beril Ocaklı, and the audience about infrastructure and arts as mediators and transmitters, object of research, and tool of propaganda in connection with the BRI.

After the presentations, there was first a discussion about why infrastructure has become such a popular concept in recent years. Both the social sciences and the humanities seem to have an increased interest in defining structures both as enabling and preventing interfaces and in integrating these as levels of analysis into their questions. This raised the important question of the extent to which these developments point to a depoliticising analytical stance that obscures rather than highlights particularities in the globalisation discourse.

Inspired by Jamila Adeli’s presentation, the topic of art as a (de)constructing lens was discussed in greater depth and with great interest: Why is the art movement of social realism reappearing in the Chinese present, what are the historical references, and what goals is the Chinese central government pursuing with it? The role of the state as a cultural policy actor was placed in the context of post- and neo-colonial issues and discussed in a stimulating manner on the basis of contributions from the audience.

We thank the organizers and all participants for the fruitful exchange and discussion!

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