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Department of Social Anthropology


Shaping Mongolian Urbanism – Dynamic Ownership and Emerging Politico-Economic Subjectivities in Ulaanbaatar with Rebekah Plueckhahn

This paper explores the interrelationships between the dynamics of owning and the shaping of Mongolian urbanism following a period of intense increase in foreign direct investment and its subsequent decline in Ulaanbaatar. Ethnographically situated in an oscillating cusp between Ulaanbaatar’s areas of predominantly concrete buildings and the expansive ger areas of fenced land plots, this paper charts the failed redevelopment of a socialist-era residential building. Following Mongolia’s period of economic decline after 2013, this building became the material manifestation of several competing overlaps between redevelopment aspirations, state neglect, privatisation and economic stagnation.

Following attempts by residents of this building to bring into reality an as yet unrealised vision of urban improvement, this paper explores the ways the residents shaped and reconceptualised the surrounding landscape and reformulated dynamic acts of owning in this period of decline. Taking up the call by Rademacher (2015) to delve deeper into the ethnographic particularities of urban socionatural transformations, this paper examines peoples’ politico-economic subjectivities emerging in this landscape and the ways this intersected with agentive material elements. Here, the formation of blurred, interchangeable private and public physical spaces were deeply bound up within private and public economic spheres. This paper explores how these formations and overlapping conceptual frames underpinning acts of ‘owning’ were implicated in forms of city shaping.

Tuesday, 1 May, 2018 - 16:30 to 18:00
Event location: 
Seminar room, The Mond Building, Free School Lane