A Peripheral Platform—Life and Work of the Commercial Precariat in Moscow's Markets
This dissertation is the first monograph length study of affective practices and migrant precarities in the popular markets in Russia. Moscow continues to be among the top global destinations for labor migration, while its trade sector is a major sphere of employment for heterogeneous groups of workers and traders from post-Soviet Central Asia, the Caucasus, Vietnam, China, and elsewhere. Although Moscow's markets are crucial urban actors and vital nodes in the extensive trans-Eurasian bazaar network, there has been little research of these key commercial and cultural places. This study fills the gap and offers an affective praxeological analysis of the Sadovod market, its contiguous spaces, and protagonists. Through cutting edge theoretical interventions and innovative ethnographic projects of collaborative mapping and sound recording, the dissertation gives an alternative vocabulary beyond the understandings of markets as sites of economic informality, ethnic entrepreneurship, or incubators of pandemics. I argue that for my interlocutors markets act as peripheral platforms. Such platforms allow to cultivate experimental skill, repertoires of value-producing acts, and forms of volatile, yet convivial socialities. Based on more than a year of multi-sited fieldwork and many return visits, my research shows the complexities of relations among the motley crew of migrant traders, sellers, alms seekers, and others—the formation of actors I call the “commercial precariat.” By focusing on the precariat’s affective practices and their relations with the state and rentier oligarchs, I show what “life,” “work” and “precarity” are for the Central Asian and other types of market workers.
PhD defended at
Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute of Asian and African Studies, Seminar for Central Asian Studies
Global Asia (Asia and other parts of the World)
Urban / Rural
Art and Culture
Diasporas and Migration