Björn Reichhardt – Down the Road: Contested Infrastructures of Development, Tourism and Pastoral Dairying
May 7, 2019 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
In 2015, the construction of a paved road connecting Khatgal, a village located on the shores of Lake Khövsgöl in northern Mongolia, with Mörön and Ulaanbaatar led to a flood of tourists and, concomitantly, a depletion of groceries and cash. Since then, Khatgal has become a promising seasonal destination for thousands of Mongolian and international tourists, as well as numerous business people and NGOs.
This paper seeks to examine the intertwining of local and regional infrastructure and the multiple directions of their (dis)function. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Khatgal, the extent to which the construction of paved roads, as elements of the built environment, offers further insight into the interconnection and fragilities of other domains, such as dairy pastoralism, tourism and development across space and time will be examined.
Ultimately, the aim is to challenge the bias/dichotomy inherent in grand narratives of infrastructures and its involvement in the promotion of sustainable tourism, development, and nation building processes in order to demonstrate to what extent economic and transportation infrastructures bring forth stability, as well as fragility and disintegration.
About the presenter:
Björn Reichhardt is a PhD student at the Central Asian Seminar of Humboldt University of Berlin, where he researches relationships of space, security and material culture. Holding a Bachelor’s (BSc) degree in Human Geography (Free University of Berlin) and a Master’s degree in Central Asian Studies (Humboldt University of Berlin), his research is situated at the intersection of sociocultural anthropology and cultural geography.
He is also a research assistant at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History where he works on pastoral dairying in Mongolia within the project ‘Dairy Cultures: Gene-Culture-Microbiome Evolution and the Ancient Invention of Dairy Foods’.
The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting scholarship in Mongolian Studies. The ACMS Speaker Series are organized in partnership with the U.S. Embassy and the Natsagdorj Library and provides an important platform for researchers engaged in Mongolia to share their experiences and findings with the public. The event promotes information exchange on a variety of subjects related to Mongolia and is free and open to the public.