Borderline Gardening

Sino-Mongolian Relations and the Construction of Extractive Enclaves with Horticultural Characteristics

  • Mikkel Bunkenborg University of Copenhagen
Keywords: garden, China, Mongolia, natural resources, extractive industries


Based on ethnographic fieldwork among Chinese nationals working in Mongolia, this research note explores various forms of gardening that unfolded as side-projects at sites where Chinese enterprises were engaged in the extraction of oil, zinc and fluorspar. At first, the organisation and activities of these Chinese operations appeared to stem from a penchant for walled compounds and gardening. However, on closer inspection, the horticultural enclaves were not really a unilateral imposition of a culturally determined aesthetics, but rather the outcome of a negotiation, informed by prevailing ethnic stereotypes, of the proper form a Chinese presence could assume in Mongolia.

Author Biography

Mikkel Bunkenborg, University of Copenhagen
MIKKEL BUNKENBORG is an associate professor in China Studies at the University of Copenhagen. His research revolves around contemporary Chinese society and the anthropology of the sinophone world with an emphasis on bodies, medicine, and food, on ritual, politics, and morality in rural China, and on Chinese globalisation as it unfolds in Africa and Central Asia. 


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