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Department of Social Anthropology


Chima Michael Anyadike-Danes (University of California)

Trucking with Time: The Emergence of New Mongolian Mobilities in America


How do time, space, and movement weave together shaping the lives of Mongolian migrants to Los Angeles? And what does this reveal about life and labour in late modernity? The forms of mobility associated with international migration can lead immigrants to encounter alien regimes of time discipline that seek to structure people’s lives in ways they had not imagined. Ways that may be consequential for their ethical goals. Scholars have often associated the rise of such regimes of control with the singular emergence of industrial modernity, and the factory as a site of labour and surveillance. However, more recent research has emphasized both the universality and plurality of time discipline.

In this talk I begin by examining how forms of time discipline associated with various public agencies and private enterprises operating in Los Angeles interpenetrate with the lives of Mongolian immigrants as they move between their apartments, public parks, offices, and nightclubs. Having considered these forms of time-discipline I explore Mongolian attempts at resisting these impositions through the adoption of new forms of mobility.

The majority of the LA Mongolian population dwell in Koreatown— a neighbourhood of only a few square kilometres, but densely populated by more than 100,000 people. Many of the Mongolians living there journeyed to Los Angeles to study for business and management degrees but, while working to finance their studies, they experienced American capitalism and the time discipline attendant on menial labour.

Unhappy with this option some Mongolians have sought to exert agency over time, to allow the pursuit of their own ethical goals. Specifically, an increasing number of Mongolian men are becoming long-distance truckers. This may appear a puzzling career choice because truckers are apparently subordinated to a schedule, and subjected to a variety of regimes of surveillance. However, these men argue that this specific form of mobility offers them a freedom from the routinization and standardization they associate with the time discipline of work in Los Angeles and, unlike other labour, the scope to pursue their own ethical goals.

In my presentation, I will explore this seeming contradiction, and conclude by suggesting that it reveals a key dimension of late-modernity.

Tuesday, 6 February, 2018 - 16:30 to 18:00
Event location: 
Seminar Room, Mond Building, Department of Social Anthropology, Free School Lane