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Making Cashmere, Making Futures

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The Work of Hope and the Materialisation of Dreams in a Mongolian Cashmere Factory

image of Inner Asia

This paper draws on fieldwork carried out in a cashmere factory in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. Beginning my analysis as the raw wool enters the factory, I explore the factory as site in which multiple dreams come to exist and act on one other, focusing on the divide between management visions of the factory of the future and workers’ engagements in secondary economies. I then follow how attention to the trajectories of cashmere and the dreams of the factory articulate with the contrasting hopes of young and old female factory employees as they find ways simultaneously to manufacture cashmere and nurture their own dreams of the future: projects that not only rely on the factory as a place that brings people together in dynamic and creative ways, but also work to deny the containment of its walls. By following the cashmere, I interweave analyses on a number of scales, rejecting the separation of the material into that of the micro or macro, and instead demonstrating how the making of cashmere is also a matter of making futures.

Affiliations: 1: University College


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