Thursday Feb 04 Dr Sayana Namsaraeva

Thursday Feb 04 (5pm Seminar Room)

Chinese Manzhouli as the ‘City-as-Refuge’ for Russian female border traders

Dr Sayana Namsaraeva

The successful urbanization of a Chinese border city Manzhouli to a great extent resulted from official politics of hospitality to attract more foreign tourists. But the mass presence of foreigners also evokes classical situation of hostipitality (hospitable hostility) and socio-spatial separation of the city between citizens and non-citizens.  In looking at how Russian women, who constitute the majority among tourists, visit Manzhouli and the ways in which they create a mythology out of their beautification there, I take my cue from Derrida’s ideas of the utopian city of refuge (2001) to argue that in Manzhouli, women find a temporal asylum where they get emotional recovery and revitalize their bodies, thus showing their disagreement with the economic situation in Russia, by consuming in China. This ethnographic analysis of the beauty consumption among female border crossers situates gender specific practices at the Russia-China border in the wider research of the borders in North Asia.


Dr Namsaraeva is an affiliated postdoctoral researcher at the Mongolian and Inner Asia Studies Unit. Her research interests encompass historical anthropology, Qing China colonial policy in Inner Asia, Russia-China frontiers, and trans-border Buriad ethnic relations. Her regional expertise include Eastern Siberia, Mongolia and Manchuria. Most recently, one of her major projects- Where Rising Powers Meet- was a joint research endeavour exploring the world’s longest border: life along the border that separates Russia, China and Mongolia, and specifically the experiences of the Buriad ethnic group.