ROADWORK: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders

Prof. Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi


‘ROADWORK: An Anthropology of Infrastructure at China’s Inner Asian Borders’ is a four-year research project (2018-2022) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. The project team conducts ethnographic fieldwork along roads that have been designated as key links at the Sino-Inner Asian interface of the China-initiated Silk Road Economic Belt. Archival research and GIS analysis, two further research methods employed by the team, help to identify social relations and temporalities that are difficult to capture through ethnography, but which nonetheless powerfully affect roads and travel in this region of Asia. The conceptual aim of the project is to propose a novel framework to theorize the social life of roads through a dialogue with the concepts of place and time, and to bring decay and maintenance to the centre of anthropological enquiry.


Duration: August 2018 – July 2022 (48 months)


Project's team:
Verena La Mela (University of Fribourg)
Emilia Roza Sulek (University of Fribourg)
Zarina Urmanbetova (University of Fribourg)
Jessica Di Carlo (University of Colorado Boulder)
Hasan H. Karrar (Lahore University of Management Sciences)
Judd Kinzley (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Till Mostowlansky (Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva)
Eric Schluessel (Washington University)
Thomas White (University of Cambridge)
Agnieszka Joniak-Lüthi (PI, University of Fribourg)


Visit the project's website