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      Infrastructural Geopolitics

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      International Studies Quarterly
      Oxford University Press (OUP)

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          Abstract

          Invisible and seemingly technical financial infrastructures have become the site of high geopolitics. Crucially, security sanctions are being leveraged through the global financial messaging network SWIFT. This article offers the term “infrastructural geopolitics” to draw attention to the ways in which hegemonic contestation and fracturing play out in and through payment infrastructures. Infrastructures are not passive sites to be used in the service of preexisting hegemonic power but can themselves route, block, challenge, or rework power in particular ways.

          We focus on the new trade mechanism INSTEX as a lens on the global battle over financial payment infrastructures. How and why has hegemonic contestation taken the shape of, and is in turn shaped by, struggles over payment infrastructure? As a heuristic device to analyze the hegemonic politics of financial infrastructure, we propose three terms that capture the processual nature of infrastructural politics: sedimentation, resurfacing, and fracturing. We apply these to the emergence of the payment infrastructure INSTEX. We explain how hegemonic politics become hardwired in the technical and largely invisible SWIFT infrastructure, which supported postwar financial order and sedimented its uneven power relations. The process of political resurfacing captures the ways in which infrastructural dispositions come to the surface of political discussion again, after 9/11 and through the JCPOA process. In conclusion, the introduction of INSTEX has advanced the possibility of fracturing international payment routes, with multiple alternative infrastructures emerging.

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          Most cited references69

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                International Studies Quarterly
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                0020-8833
                1468-2478
                September 2022
                July 18 2022
                September 2022
                July 18 2022
                July 18 2022
                : 66
                : 3
                Article
                10.1093/isq/sqac033
                1e775219-d04c-42d6-8cd1-f06a3e83e72e
                © 2022

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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