Seminar – 25 February – Natalia Ryzhova

February 13th, 2020 by


Tuesday 25 February 2020

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Natalia Ryzhova

Palacky University, Olomouc

Who is fighting for the militarized islands on the Sino-Russian border?

It is widely known that the territory of the Russian Far East was highly militarized during the soviet period. Militaries with their family members live in ‘secret cities,’ military towns (voennye gorodki), and border settlements. All these settlements had their own schools, kindergartens, children music schools, hospitals, and stores. The social changes that began after the collapse of the USSR affected the properties relations of these garrisons and towns. Infrastructure owned by the military but suitable for civilian needs always existed separately from the civilian state. The Ministry of Defense was in no hurry with property reform in post-soviet times. As a result, part of the infrastructure was abandoned and gradually collapsed. Another part was ‘appropriated’ by ‘civilians,’ who became civilian forcibly, as a result of the Army reduction. Finally, part of the property was introduced into commercial circulation, often outside legal norms. Thus, using ethnographic material collected at militarized settlements, I aim to talk about semi-legal fights over property by businesses, local and federal officials, “ordinary” people, and militaries. In so doing, I argue that there is a paradoxical overlay between the Ministry of Defense sovereignty over the land and infrastructure, and other entities’ sovereignties. The overlay is overarching yet everyday post-Soviet state sovereignty. Post-Soviet sovereignty is by no means fixed, immovable. Players with their actions seek to challenge, appropriate the post-militarized space and redefine the achieved autonomy over which they as sovereigns have control.

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