Majed Akhter

Lecturer, Department of GeographyUniversity of London / King's College London


Majed Akhter was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, and has lived and worked in Pakistan, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Before becoming a geographer, he was a resource economist and an industrial engineer. Majed enjoys swimming, walking, cycling, stretching, books, maps, and trains (not a complete list).

Award Information

Transregional Research Junior Scholar Fellowship: InterAsian Contexts and Connections (2017-2018)

Lecturer, Department of GeographyUniversity of London / King's College London

Decolonizing infrastructure: Empire, expertise, and the imaginative geographies of the Colombo Plan, 1950-1973

With the dust from World War II barely settled, large swathes of South and Southeast Asia began the contradictory journey of political decolonization. Political independence, however, did not necessarily mean economic autonomy. This was especially apparent in one crucial area: the financing and construction of infrastructures. Across Asia, planners and politicians attempted to forge viable national economic spaces through the construction of large infrastructures, but this meant dependence on regional and global flows of capital and expertise. South and Southeast Asian elites turned to established centers of world power for assistance. This project focuses on a unique international development program that attempted to bring emergent Asian national economies within a post-imperial geography through a political ideology of anticommunism: The Colombo Plan for Cooperative Economic Development in South and Southeast Asia. The project draws on archival sources to conduct a scale-sensitive and geopolitical economic analysis of the politics of infrastructure planning in South and Southeast Asia in the context of decolonization from the British Empire. It explores how the imagining, financing, and construction of large physical infrastructures shape, and are in turn shaped by, the politics of region formation at multiple interconnected scales. By examining the circulations, connections, and geopolitical conjunctures across Asia, and particularly as they involved actors in Pakistan, Malaysia, and Singapore, it develops an infrastructural analysis of early Cold War geopolitics. The broader objective is to explicate the contradictions between decolonized political space and imperial economic space as articulated by the modernizing promises of capital, technology, and expertise.