Belt & Road in Global Perspective
Two modern, six-lane highways intersect, with trees and buildings underneath
Economy & prosperity, Government & politics, East Asia, Africa, Europe, Russia & Eurasia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Belt & Road

Introducing Transformations: Downstream effects of the BRI

Welcome to our blog! Transformations: Downstream Effects of the BRI is a platform for discussing the complex changes set in motion in Asia and Eurasia by China’s enormous Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Ours is not an effort to chase the headlines. Instead, we seek to bring together scholars whose research considers how the BRI is reconfiguring social, cultural, and political forces across Asia and Eurasia in sometimes expected and sometimes surprising ways.

Our scope is enormous, with a geographic purview that ranges from Western Europe and the Caucasus to Central Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia. Our thematic purview is equally broad: we are primarily interested in changes in migration,  labour relations, and social mobilization, but we recognize that the BRI is generating a wide array of other transformations whose contours will become clearer over the span of years and decades.

Precisely because the impact of the BRI crosses so many thematic, geographic, and disciplinary boundaries, our platform seeks to bring together the widest array of scholars working on relevant topics. We especially invite scholars and policy makers [1] to take stock of our offerings, as they consider the varied impacts the BRI is setting in motion across a vast swathe of the globe.

Our blog will include contributions from a variety of scholars from a wide range of disciplines. They will be united in considering what we are calling the downstream effects of the BRI [2]. Whereas a vast body of work is already grappling with the BRI’s tremendously important initial developments —including investment deals, bilateral agreements, debt negotiations, and infrastructure projects—our platform develops another focus. Specifically, we want to understand how these BRI-led dynamics are playing out for the people most affected. Blog entries will be of three principal types. First, analytic moments will include contributions from scholars, based on their research, that provide frameworks for analyzing emergent changes, “plausibility probes” of arguments about the BRI’s downstream effects, and agendas for conducting further research. Second, dispatches from the field are posts from scholars that provide glimpses of changes becoming evident in BRI-affected contexts. Finally, policy memos are the place for scholars to propose evidence-based policy interventions designed to address one or another challenge that the BRI poses.

Along with our partners at the National University of Singapore and Nazarbayev University, we welcome proposals from any scholar working on relevant topics. Please contact us at

[1] We welcome interest from all disciplinary and interdisciplinary angles, and extend a specific invitation to those with roots in anthropology, development studies, economics, education, geography, migration studies, policy studies, political science, sociology, urban planning, and cognate fields. The breadth of this call for interest in deliberately expansive.

[2] We use the phrase “downstream effects” to underscore that we are primarily interested in ground-level perspectives on the changes that are underway in countries across Asia and Eurasia.