5 March - GLASS Lecture: Caroline Humphrey

Professor Dame Caroline Humphrey (Social Anthropology, Cambridge University) will deliver a lecture on: Remote Areas and Minoritised Spatial Orders at the Russia-Mongolia Border

Date & Time 
5 March 2014
15.00-17.00 hrs

Gravensteen, Room 11 
Pieterskerkhof 6 
2311 SR Leiden 

Reception to Follow @ Het Prentenkabinet

Remote Areas and Minoritised Spatial Orders at the Russia-Mongolia Border


The lecture will first outline how ‘remoteness’ was conceived and constructed during the Soviet and post-Soviet periods in Russia.  Using the ideas of the social geographer Boris Rodoman, it argues that centric structures of power, communications and state provision created scalar zones of non-development and isolation at borders between internal administrative regions.  In post-Soviet times the structure continued, but according to Vladimir Kagansky it has been disturbed by recent ‘spontaneous transformations’ whereby state international borders are becoming areas of contact and enterprise, rather than isolation.  The lecture will suggest to the contrary that, with the increasing centralisation of the Putin era, Kagansky’s theory has not been realised on the Russia-Mongolia-China border, and that international frontiers with reduced crossing points in fact deepen the residents’ situation of being ‘cut off’ or ‘at a dead end’. However, the indigenous people living in border zones, notably the Buryat, operate not only with these state-inspired geographies, but also with their own quite different spatial concepts.  These are so much the converse to the Russian that they can be seen as a distinctive minoritized vision. The Buryat ideas and ritual practices reach across political boundaries. In effect they create a subtle challenge to the spatiality of the Russian state.  It will be suggested that roads in this situation become particularly concentrated vectors of contradictory values.


Read more about Caroline Humphrey here.

Last Modified: 03-03-2014