Call for Participation
Conceptualizing the “Belt and Road Initiative” and its Effects
An International Conference
Organized by the Belt and Road in Global Perspective project
University of Toronto
June 14-15, 2021

Since Xi Jinping visited Kazakhstan in 2013 to unveil the “One Belt, One Road” strategy, China has spent nearly USD 1 trillion in development assistance and infrastructure financing in more than 60 countries. This massive and multi-faceted project—since renamed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—has set in motion social, economic, and political transformations with the potential to reshape the globe.

While there has been no shortage of analysis about the project’s origins and initial trajectories, our project is different. We view the BRI as a potential engine of transformations that are varied and difficult to predict; we set our sights on what occurs downstream, i.e. not in the minds of policymakers and project planners but on the ground in specific contexts. But what is the BRI? We welcome scholars eager to leverage their respective disciplinary and empirical expertise to ask how we might best conceptualize the BRI and its emergent effects on Asian and Eurasian contexts. What historical antecedents, what conceptual frameworks, and what comparative points of reference should frame how we “think into” the BRI and its impact?

While the BRI’s effects will reveal themselves over the course of years and decades to come, we have identified three particularly promising conceptual themes: effects on migration, effects on labour relations, and effects on social mobilization. We are open to papers exploring additional themes.

Our discussions will take place as a small conference held via video link with the University of Toronto on June 14-15, 2021. Each selected participant will provide a written paper by May 15, 2021. We will have separate sessions on migration, labour, and mobilization, but all participants will be expected to contribute to all discussions. We anticipate assembling selected papers for submission to an academic journal as a special issue.

Please send a paper title, 200-word abstract, and CV to by March 1st, 2021, to ensure full consideration. We particularly encourage participation from junior scholars, members of historically marginalized groups, and individuals from BRI-affected countries.