23 May 2022

Dr Miguel Kanai wins Best Paper award

Dr Kanai’s paper on infrastructure-led development and the re-emergence of spatial planning strategies was named as the Best Paper for the Regional Studies journal.

Cover of the Regional Studies journal

The award for Best Paper from the journal Regional Studies, went to ‘Getting the territory right: Infrastructure-led development and the re-emergence of spatial planning strategies’ by Dr Seth Schindler (University of Manchester) and Dr Kanai, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Sheffield.

The 2022 Regional Studies Association Best Papers were selected from each RSA journal for issues published in 2021. ‘Getting the territory right’ was selected as Best Paper by the editors of Regional Studies.

The paper argues that in the context of proliferating infrastructure investments in low- and middle-income countries, infrastructure-led development - where infrastructure such as railways, highways, dams, ports and regional power grids underpins development plans - is  part of an emergent international development regime whose imperative is to ‘get the territory right.’ Connectivity upgrades, such as the paving of regional roads or construction of new cross-border corridors, are pursued with the goal of attracting foreign investments and linking local economies to global value chains. Whereas these plans largely follow guidelines devised by global institutions such as the World Bank, OECD and G20, and tend to be implemented by national agencies, they provoke major disruptions in the communities where they are implemented. Social and environmental consequences need to be better accounted for and properly mitigated.

“This kind of recognition is humbling” said Dr Kanai “but it’s just as rewarding to see how this research is being taken up by colleagues from different parts of the world to engage the infrastructure-led transformations that they are grappling with”.

The full list of 2022 RSA Journals Best Papers can be found on the RSA’s website.