Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Kultur-, Sozial- und Bildungswissenschaftliche Fakultät - Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften

De:link // Re:link


dlinkDe:link // Re:link - Local perspectives on transregional (dis-)entanglements

Research Consortium 2021 - 2024

The network project De:link//Re:link investigates new spatial configurations and local perspectives on transregional infrastructure projects such as the Belt and Road Initiative initiated by China in 2013. link indicates the network's focus on local insights and new knowledges. In this context, the consortium examines the dynamics of entanglements and disentanglements as well as processes of social / political / cultural / economic / lingual de- and re-concentration in Asia, Africa and Europe. These dynamics are studied in greater depth from different disciplinary perspectives that rest on multi-scalar and multi-sited fieldwork. Analytical and conceptual approaches of New Area Studies and Southern Theory form the connecting theoretical and methodological framework. The overarching goal of cooperation among the four partners in the consortium is to strengthen a pluri-directional exchange of knowledge and shared knowledge production between and of scholars and other academic actors in Germany and the core regions of research (Africa, Asia, Europe, Eurasia, Afrasia).





Project Funding:

The project is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung – BMBF). Speakers are Claudia Derichs (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Institute of Asian and African Studies; speaker) and Andreas Eckert (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Institute of Asian and African Studies; co-speaker).

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Individual Projects

Local perspectives are reflected in (local) languages - A linguistic jouney along the BRI (Dr. Linda Gerlach)

The video was presented as part of the kick-off workshop of De:link//Re:link on the 25th of June 2021.

It is not directly linked to the present postdoc project but rather intended to give the audience an impression of the linguistc diversity along the route of the BRI. With up to 140 countries being involved in the BRI (Nedopil 2021), we get an idea of its dimension. Looking at the number of languages spoken in these countries (and leaving our political and Eurocentric idea of monolinguality per state behind), we quickly see that potentially thousands of languages and their respective speakers get in touch with the BRI in one way or other. Languages play a major role in the success of the many diverse BRI projects, e.g. regarding their implementation and their acceptance. On the other hand, it can be assumed that these macro projects also influence and potentially change languages or language use in the affected regions.

Needless to mention, the video of 6min 30sec is a simplistic representation of the real linguistic situation along the BRI. Consequently, the languages selected for this presentation just serve as examples. The random selection does not claim to cover the full variation of languages and dialects spoken in the said regions, nor should it be interpreted as a reference to the importance of any one language or as a political statement.


Nedopil, Christoph (2021): “Countries of the Belt and Road Initiative”; Beijing, IIGF Green BRI Center, citing


Artistic de/constructions of cultural heritage in the context of Old and New Silk Roads (Dr. Jamila Adeli)

My current research is part of the BMBF funded research consortium De:Link // Re:Link. Local perspectives on transregional processes of (dis)entanglements. The project tackles local, transregional and transcultural perspectives and re/actions on China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Foregrounding dis/connectivities, the overall research perspective emphasizes local insights and new knowledges. Initiated in 2013 under president Xi Jinping, the BRI is commonly perceived to create and shape a new economic, geopolitical and geocultural region and space through the means of networking infrastructures, joint economic developments and social connections.

            One of the main research agendas of De:link// Re:link is to focus on cultural heritage to understand the various configurations of cultural politics of infrastructures that emerge along the BRI. In my postdoc project titled “Artistic de/constructions of cultural heritage in the context of Old and New Silk Roads,“I focus on analyzing the de/construction narratives that re/activate the spirits of the „old and new silk roads“ as a common ground for historic and future connectivities. As defined by Reeves (2004) and Jorgensen & Phillips (2002), narratives like the „old silk roads“ or the „Chinese Dream“ provide legitimate contexts and conditions for both new practices and the contestation of existing ones (Loh 2021).

            I use the lens of art and artistic practices assuming that the processes and results of art production are means of trans/local and trans/regional knowledge production. Especially contemporary art and artistic practice like the curating of exhibitions need to be incorporated when investigating local re/actions to large scale infrastructures that are shaping pasts, realities and futures at various scales.

As artists and other cultural actors increasingly contribute to the de/construction of local and trans/regional narratives, experiences and imaginations, my main research questions are as follows: Which narratives concerning cultural politics and heritage both emerge and dissolve alongside the construction of the BRI? How do contemporary artists and curators reflect, react to and interact with the BRI, its cultural politics and both shared and common cultural heritage? What related knowledge is produced by artworks and exhibitions? And what is the function of art and artistic practices in constructing and deconstructing a new trans/regional order?




Research Consortium


Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient
‘New Area Studies’
‘Transregional East Africa’
Prof. Claudia Derichs
Prof. Ulrike Freitag
Prof. Sarah Eaton
Prof. Kai Kresse
Prof. Andreas Eckert
Dr. Katrin Bromber
Prof. Eva Ehninger
Doctoral student: Kadara Swaleh
Prof. Susanne Gehrmann
Prof. Tom Güldemann
Prof. Henning Klöter
Prof. Boike Rehbein
Prof. Nadja-Christina Schneider
Prof. Manja Stephan-Emmrich
Dr. Jamila Adeli
Dr. Linda Gerlach
Dr. John Njenga Karugia
Doctoral students:
Fiona Smith
Daniel Koßmann
Tanya Talwar


Zentrum für Osteuropa und internationale Studien
Bonn International Center for Conflict Studies
‘China, the EU and economic development in East Europe and Eurasia’
‘Chinas BRI in North Rhine-Westphalia and Pakistan’
Prof. Gwendolyn Sasse
Prof. Conrad Schetter
Dr. Julia Langbein
Dr. Katja Mielke
Doctoral student: Valentin Krüsemann
Doctoral student: Nadia Ali



PIs from partner universities:

Prof. Aldin Mutembei - University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Dr. Jeanine Dagyeli - Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

Dr. Andrey Filchenko - Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan


Project coordinator:

Lina Knorr (Humboldt Universität zu Berlin)


Associated fellows:

Dr. Diego Trindade d'Ávila Magalhães


International Advisory Board:

Prof. Dr. Hasan Karrar (LUMS)

Prof. Jamie Monson, PhD (Michigan State University)

Professor Oussouby Sacko (President of Kyoto Seika University, Kyoto, Japan)
Dr. Facil Tesfaye (University of Hong Kong)