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Mediating Respectability at Informal Markets on the Russian-Chinese Border

image of Inner Asia

This article deals with the impact of a major redesign of public space at a cross-border market on the Russian—Chinese border on customer—seller interrelations. The location in question is the Chinese border town of Manzhouli, which, over the last two decades, has risen to become a bustling town of cross-border tourism and retail trade. It will be shown that the large-scale replacement of makeshift market stalls by huge, ostentatious department store buildings is paralleled by the way Chinese traders try to impose a more restricted and rule-governed price regime in their interactions with Russian customers. Russian customers react to this recent shift in appearance and behaviour by sticking to received perceptions of the border as a place outside orderly society and will accordingly reject the Chinese reinterpretation of the cross-border market location.

Affiliations: 1: Universiteit


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