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The Hambantota Connection: Constructing landscapes, contesting modernity

Book
Authors Kerstin Hamilton
Jonas Lindberg
Karl Palmås
ISBN 978-91-86133-59-7
Publisher Glänta Produktion
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2014
Published at Department of Economy and Society, Unit for Human Geography
Valand Academy
Language en
Subject categories Visual Arts, Human Geography, Sociology

Abstract

As China re-emerges as a superpower and Western hegemony wanes, the Indian Ocean has become a geopolitical nexus. In the centre of this new map lies Hambantota, a fishing village on the south coast of Sri Lanka. Here, Chinese capital and labour has been ploughed into the construction of an international airport, a cricket ­stadium, and what is expected to become the largest port in South Asia. ­Hamban­tota seems to fit perfectly into what American and Indian military ­strategists refer to as the "String of Pearls": a plot of vital infra­structure ­developments, scattered along the rim of the Indian Ocean. The West no longer represents the only model of development, and there are now alternative versions of modernity that compete with each other. Hambantota can be understood as a microcosm that contains this contested modernity. Drawing upon documentary photography, development ­geography and economic anthropology, the authors trace connections ­between ­local phenomena and global patterns. The Hambantota ­Connection presents a visual sociology of logistics and livelihoods, of ­authoritarian leadership and anthropocenic landscapes, and of ­economic ­fictions and planetary fluxes. It explores what a place can say about the world, and how the world can be grasped through abstraction and ­speculation.

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