Alessandro Rippa is Freigeist Fellow and project director of the research group “Environing Infrastructure: Communities, Ecologies, and China’s ‘Green’ Development in Contemporary Southeast Asia,” sponsored by the Volkswagen Foundation and located at the Rachel Carson Center in Munich (RCC), Germany. Together with his team of three, he focuses on the environmental components of Chinese large-scale infrastructure development in Southeast Asia. Prior to joining the RCC, Alessandro obtained his PhD in social anthropology from the University of Aberdeen in 2015 and held postdoctoral positions at LMU Munich and at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is currently on leave from his position as associate professor of Chinese studies at Tallinn University.
Alessandro’s research interests coalesce around three major trends in the social sciences today: the social and environmental impact of infrastructure development, the flow of commodities across national boundaries, and the role of informal markets in processes of globalization. He has pursued these interests in the ethnographic contexts of western and south-western China, particularly at China’s borders with Pakistan, Myanmar, and Laos. His current research focuses on the analysis of the social and environmental consequences of Chinese investments in Myanmar, and explores new theoretical approaches for the study of large-scale infrastructure. Alessandro is also working on an ethnographic film on hunting and re-wilding in his native region of northern Italy.
- Borderland Infrastructures: Trade, Development and Control in Western China. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2020.
- with Gustavo Olivera, Galen Murton, Tyler Harlan, and Yang Yang. “China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Views from the Ground.” Political Geography 82 (2020): 102225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.polgeo.2020.102225.
- “Mapping the Margins of China’s Global Ambition: Economic Corridors, Silk Roads, and the End of Proximity in the Borderlands.” Eurasian Geography and Economics 61, no. 1 (2020): 55–76. https://doi.org/10.1080/15387216.2020.1717363.
- “Zomia 2.0: Branding Remoteness and Neoliberal Connectivity in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone, Laos.” Social Anthropology/Anthropologie sociale 27, no. 2 (2019): 253–269. https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-8676.12649.
- with Matthäus Rest. “Road Animism: Reflections on the Life of Infrastructures.” HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 9, no. 2 (2019): 373-389. https://doi.org/10.1086/706041.
- edited with Alexander Horstmann and Martin Saxer. Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands. London and New York: Routledge, 2018.