The Dream of ASEAN Connectivity: Imagining Infrastructure in Southeast Asia
Large-scale infrastructural development schemes are currently experiencing a worldwide political revival. Beyond establishing physical connections over distance, enhancing trade relations, and enabling service delivery, such schemes also play a central role in the construction of political entities. For the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), infrastructure development is crucial for the advancement of regional connectivity. Its Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) includes large-scale projects such as the trans-ASEAN highway, trans-regional power grids, and a regional gas pipeline network. Linking Henri Lefebvre's conceptualization on the production of space with recent literature on the role of infrastructure imaginaries, this paper explores how the region's future is envisioned in the Southeast Asian dream of connectivity. The study primarily relies on a hermeneutic analysis of video releases that promote the Master Plan. It shows that—similar to other infrastructure projects—the connectivity dream is closely related to imaginaries of movement and modernity. However, as it is almost exclusively an urban vision, the connectivity agenda seems not only to interconnect and homogenize regional space but it may also enforce preexisting disconnections and so potentially lead to more fragmentation.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 2019
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- Pacific Affairs is a peer-reviewed, independent, and interdisciplinary scholarly journal focusing on important current political, economic and social issues throughout Asia and the Pacific. Each issue contains approximately five new articles and 40-50 book reviews. Published continuously as a quarterly since 1928 under the same name, it is the oldest English-language journal with a focus on Asia and the Pacific. It enjoys an international reputation based on the high quality of articles, and its extensive book reviews section.
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