Lunchtime Seminar – 19 March – Marissa Smith

March 13th, 2015 by

A lunchtime seminar will be held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Tuesday 19 March 2015, 12.00–1.00

All welcome

Marissa Smith

University of Princeton

Absent Corporations and Centralizing State Power in Contemporary Mongolia

Today, Mongolia is often understood as a country whose future is in the hands of transnational corporations. However, many of these transnational corporations, including some of the worlds’ largest mining houses, have been struggling since they began working in the country after the end of the socialist period. In the seminar, I describe how these corporations often act like illegitimate state actors in the eyes of Mongolians, seeking to control and exclude others from, rather than enrich and ensure access to, valuables such as transport and power infrastructure which are understood to be common. I contrast this with forms of power associated with the Erdenet Mining Corporation, a large mining enterprise established during the late socialist period. Power is acknowledged as multiple rather than centralized or singular, exercised by individual workplaces (khamt olon) and groups associated with particular national groups (undested and yastad) from different regions of Mongolia, which share the use of most infrastructure if not all valuables in Erdenet. Further legitimate power involves the provision of further public goods, including the construction of additional roads, support of education, and increases in wages, needs addressed to the corporation as a state-like central power, but actually carried out by individual workgroups and other parts of the corporation that may take credit for enriching and ensuring access to public goods but, unlike the state or state actors, not be held responsible for their provision.