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Emergent Geographies of the Second Global Cold War

16 March 2022

On 16 March 2022, we were joined by Seth Schindler, Senior Lecturer of Urban Development and Transformation at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. This event was chaired by Lorena Lombardozzi, Senior Lecturer in Economics at The Open University.

The US-China rivalry has deteriorated to its lowest point in decades. In this talk, I introduce the notion of the Second Global Cold War (SGCW), and I begin by demonstrating that it exhibits a territorial logic that differs from its namesake. During the First Global Cold War, the cornerstone of US foreign policy was the containment of communism, while the USSR sought to respond to ‘capitalist encirclement.’ By contrast, the US and China are engaged in a geopolitical-economic competition to integrate territory into their respective value chains. This has led to the proliferation of infrastructure projects, and my primary argument is that this dynamic geopolitical opportunity structure affords states that have historically been considered disempowered to articulate ambitious spatial objectives. However, in order to undertake such ambitious projects, states must often undertake institutional reform, or what Neil Brenner refers to as ‘state restructuring.’ I conclude that these emergent territories and local politics surrounding institutional reform can, in turn, influence the geopolitical-economic competition between the US and China in unexpected ways.

The talk has three parts. I begin by introducing the notion of the SGCW. Next, I show how states have adapted to its dynamic geopolitical opportunity structure. Finally, I show that the actions of small states can influence the US-China rivalry.

Bio

Seth Schindler is Senior Lecturer of Urban Development and Transformation at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. He is a trained urban geographer interested primarily in urbanization and cities in low- and middle-income countries. His current research interests are focused on the legacy of deindustrialization and contemporary re-industrialization strategies underpinned by large-scale transnational infrastructure projects. He is currently an editor of Area Development & Policy and a corresponding editor of the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research. He is Co-Director of Research of the African Cities Research Consortium.

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