CFP | Migrations and Mobilities along the Belt and Road: Emergent Geographies in Asia and Beyond

Valerie Yeo Announcement
Subject Fields
Anthropology, Geography, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Social History / Studies, Area Studies


Migrations and Mobilities along the Belt and Road: Emergent Geographies in Asia and Beyond
11-12 January 2024, National University of Singapore 

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is an ambitious infrastructure and development project aimed at promoting trade between China and other countries and regions around the world. Since its initial announcement in 2013, the BRI has rapidly evolved into a strategy for China’s internal and external development, a ‘brand umbrella’ under which a vast array of China’s geopolitical projects—ranging from trade and investment to humanitarian initiatives—have been implemented. Although the BRI lacks a formal legal mandate and binding rules, it is being rolled out through a variety of policy instruments, including bilateral agreements, investment incentives, development projects, and trade and infrastructure programmes.

While the macroeconomic impact of China’s growing presence in the BRI nations is the subject of increasing scholarly attention, the effects of Belt and Road projects on the conditions of migration and mobility remain under-researched. We know little about how investments and policies delivered under the banner of the BRI are altering the diversity of migrant groups, the sociocultural and economic drivers of migration, and the legal and administrative governance of migration. Equally sparse is research along the Belt and Road on encounters and dynamics between migrants and local residents, and the impact on sociocultural exchange and knowledge circulation. This workshop aims to address these gaps by examining topics such as:

  • Economic and socio-political forces that produce particular migration regimes and conditions of (im)mobility;
  • The social, economic, political, and cultural implications of emerging flows of migration and mobilities in both sending and receiving contexts;
  • The experiences of mobility between China and the BRI countries among various groups of migrants; and
  • The effects of the BRI’s sociocultural exchange and knowledge circulation on migration and mobilities.

The workshop invites empirically grounded papers that analyse migration and mobilities set in motion by elements of the Belt and Road, including:

  • cross-border commerce and trade
  • work opportunities across different sectors
  • entrepreneurship and deskilling
  • education and vocational training
  • marriage and family reunion
  • lifestyle migration
  • precarity and displacement

This two-day interdisciplinary workshop aims to bring together international, regional, and local scholars to reflect on how the conditions of mobility have changed along the Belt and Road by addressing a range of salient issues on the emerging geographies of migration, such as migration regimes and conditions of (im)mobility, various implications of emerging flows of migration, and the dynamics of sociocultural exchange and knowledge circulation.

It is part of a partnership project (Belt and Road in Global Perspective or BRGP) funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) involving Professor Rachel Silvey and Professor Edward Schatz (Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy, University of Toronto), Professor Neil Collins (Nazarbayev University), and Professor Brenda Yeoh (National University Singapore) to investigate the rapidly developing and widely varying changes and downstream effects that are occurring in the wake of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).


Paper proposals should include a title, an abstract (300 words maximum), and a brief personal biography of 150 words for submission by 16 June 2023. Please also include a statement confirming that your paper has not been published or committed elsewhere, and that you are willing to revise your paper for potential inclusion in a journal special issue.

Please submit your proposal using the provided template to Ms Valerie Yeo at Successful applicants will be notified by mid-August. Panel presenters will be required to submit drafts of papers (4,000-6,000) words by 10 December 2023. These drafts will be circulated to fellow panelists and discussants in advance. Drafts need not be fully polished. Indeed, we expect that presenters will be open to feedback from fellow participants.

The workshop will be available for both in-person and online participation. Depending on the availability of funding, the Asia Research Institute and Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy may offer overseas participants financial assistance, which could include full or partial airfare and up to three nights of accommodation. If you require funding support, please indicate this on the proposal form. Priority will be given to early career researchers, such as PhD students and researchers who received their PhD no more than 7 years before the submission deadline. If you wish to be considered an early-career researcher, please also indicate the date of PhD award.


Prof Brenda S.A. Yeoh FBA | Asia Research Institute & Department of Geography, National University of Singapore
Prof Rachel Silvey | Asian Institute & Department of Geography and Planning, University of Toronto
Prof Edward Schatz | Department of Political Science & Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, University of Toronto
Assoc Prof Kong Chong Ho | Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore & Yale-NUS College
Dr Yi’En Cheng | NUS College, National University of Singapore
Dr Kris Hyesoo Lee | Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Contact Information

Valerie Yeo
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore



Contact Email