Belt and Road Borderlands: (Im)Mobility and Building the Periphery


Henry Luce Foundation/ ACLS Program in China Studies Postdoctoral Fellowships


American Studies


China’s “Belt and Road” initiative connecting China to Southeast and South Asia will bisect Ruili City, on the China-Myanmar border, a city that was once labeled the “Las Vegas of China,” for its limited government regulation of gambling, commercial sex, heroin trade, human trafficking, and a booming HIV/AIDS epidemic. This ethnography asks how new regionalist economic development strategies, like the Belt and Road Initiative, reshape rural-urban relationships, and ethnic minority relationships to land and global labor on this contentious border? This project illuminates a paradox that global capital's mobility and promises of regionalist integration, are marked by certain forms of intractable immobility that people living in borderland communities disproportionately bear.