Anton Nikolotov: A Marginal Platform – The Social Worlds of a Marketplace in Moscow
Since rynki (marketplaces) have replaced the Central State Planning Committee as major economic infrastructures for goods supply and distribution, they continue to be important platforms for small scale traders, regional peripheral economies and marginal, migrant dwellers. Undocumented workers from Central Asia find housing and work in these hubs or compete to secure spots at the entrance gates and passageways to beg for alms from its workers and visitors. This dissertation explores the significance of one such major marketplace in Moscow. Based on 14 months of participant observation research in the network of marginal markets, workers dorms and households, I describe how the places facilitate the acquisition of multiple hustling and calculative skills; enable a degree of social upward mobility; cultivate certain affects and bodily sensorial dispositions; foster a form of conviviality and potential conflict. The ethnography is set in the context of the new border regimes that come in place with the emerging Eurasian Economic Union. While the datafication of migration seeks to control deportable subjects through a form of digital virtuality, I explore how the social worlds of the markets practice other kinds of being virtual.
Anton Nikolotov is an experimental anthropologist currently completing his PhD at the Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University Berlin. His research interests are situated at the borders of urban anthropology of migration, critical border research and affect studies. Having background in art practice (BA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins College London) and MA in Cultural Theory and History from Humboldt University Berlin, Anton is exploring the transformations of precarious social worlds of migrant traders and alms seekers in a major marketplace in Moscow.