Supply chains and internal borders of the Moscow’s marginal marketplace.

Anton Nikolotov


The expansion of capital circulation has brought with it the proliferation and multiplication of borders and sovereignties visible in such heterogeneous spaces as: ports, special economic zones, distribution centers and production parks (Neilson and Rossiter 2014). In this paper I will argue that marginal marketplaces in Moscow have become one of such spaces that combine the function of being the city's “internal border” (Mezzadra & Neilson 2013), an element of the migration regime (Mezzadra 2007; Karakayali & Tsianos 2007; Hess & Karakayali 2007) as well as an important logistical node within Eurasian supply chains capitalism (Tsing 2013). Often accommodating all kinds of traders, beggars and workers, the large wholesale marginal marketplaces in Moscow have been hetero-cultural laboratories of migrant everyday space making and places of (dis) incorporation (Glick Schiller, Caglar 2011) even as the official Russian media often portrays them as “dark” places of crime, counterfeit textile production and clandestine homes for illegalized workers from Central Asia and Vietnam. Such market dwellers often find themselves in precarious and exploitative working conditions and informal dependencies, yet their relative withdrawal from the social life of the city and the state does not produce “Zomia” (Scott 2013), but a field tightly imbricated into the city’s “growth machine” (Molotch 1979). The paper is based on over twelve month of ethnographic fieldwork in Moscow’s marginal marketplaces and will describe how the racialized, mobile, working bodies in these places became significant exchange “tokens” in the formation of the new, post-Soviet urban growth that produces value and marginalisation.

border - capital - migration - racsim - precarity - supply chain - logistics