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Strategic narratives of infrastructural development: is BRICS modernizing the tale?, 26 July

CCS Seminar: “Strategic narratives of infrastructural development: is BRICS modernizing the tale?”

Date: Tuesday 26 July

Time: 12:30-14:00

Venue: CCS Seminar Room – 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College

Speaker: PhD Candidate Carolijn van Noort, Politics Department & Media, Film and Communications Department, University of Otago, New Zealand

Topic: History has presented an ambiguous interpretation towards modernization endeavours via infrastructural development. In particular in the Global South, former colonies were subjected to large scale infrastructure projects involving the construction of roads, railways and ports. These endeavours were narrated under the auspices of development and modernizing nation-states. Concerns of exploitation, including that of both labour and natural resources, have been strong arguments against these modernization projects. In the 21st Century, several of these nations have developed significantly due to their emerging markets and subsequently engaged in alternative multilateral platforms. An example of collaboration is BRICS: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. As their respective markets are growing, the demand for natural resources and new trading markets increase. These countries have expanded their economic endeavours towards the Asian and African continent. This internationalization coincides with an increase of aspirations, commitments and real plans for infrastructural development in both continents. It is the research question of this paper how these aspirations by the BRICS group are communicated for Africa, and if BRICS is modernizing the tale to a more accommodating tale. The theoretical concept of strategic narratives by Miskimmon et al is used to identify and evaluate narratives of infrastructural development. Strategic narratives are communicative tools to give meaning to events, often employed by politicians. The methodology is a narrative analysis of the official publications of the BRICS, including that of the BRICS’ New Development Bank, which has a specific focus on infrastructural development. It is argued that the narrative of infrastructural development as a new modernizing tale is rhetorically not persuasive. While the narrative of infrastructural development is framed through a modernization discourse, the narrative does not distinctively break from earlier tales.

Speaker Bio: Carolijn van Noort started her PhD in February 2015. Born in the Netherlands, but interested in dynamics internationally, Carolijn’s research field addresses media and international relations. Carolijn has studied at five different Universities where she obtained degrees in Global Business Management, Media & Culture and International Relations. Her research addresses strategic narratives and the case study of the BRICS. Carolijn is currently conducting her field research in all the five BRICS countries; South Africa is the last country she is visiting. More information on her work to be read here:

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