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The Media Aesthetics of Logistics: Belt-Road Network and the Audiovisual Resistance of Southeast Asia

The Media Aesthetics of Logistics: Belt-Road Network and the Audiovisual Resistance of Southeast Asia
- Lawrence Zi-Qiao Yang, Institute of Social Research and Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) are two distinctive yet intertwined geopolitical developments that exert impacts on global supply chain capitalism. The gradual integration of BRI and AFTA into one single market underscores the spatial-temporal reconfiguration triggered by China’s investment in transnational infrastructure of logistics and its mobilization of capital, labor, and natural resources since the 2010s. However, with a series of recent disputes regarding borders, territories, environment, class exploitation, this geopolitical sea change has also produced widespread anxiety among various ASEAN countries and their local communities. This project focuses on the ways audio-visual media fabricate contesting imaginaries and narratives of logistical connectivity, communication, as well as the fantasies and dystopias of commercial cosmopolitanism in China and Southeast Asia. Focusing on media practices ranging from state-sponsored propaganda cinema, feature-length commercial films, independent documentaries, photography, and installation arts, the project offers an audiovisual critique of an emerging logistical regime with a wide array of correlated but sometimes contradictory claims over the definition of kinship, borders, and territories. In particular, it highlights the ambivalence and resistance from artists of Southeast Asia in the face of a new form of capitalistic expansion with its uneven development across islands, peninsulas, and archipelagos.