Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnofrafii ¹ 1 (52) 2021
“Chinese” greenhouses in Russian rural space (case of Chelyabinsk Region)
Avdashkin A.A. (Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation)
The focus of this article is the problem of formation and development of “Chinese” greenhouses in 2009–2020. The development of migrant infrastructure in rural areas virtually has not been analysed yet by scientists. The purpose of this study is to trace the formation and evolution of ideas about “Chinese” greenhouses among residents of a large Russian region using the example of Chelyabinsk. The source base of the article includes media materials, interviews and archival documents. The regional press is an important source for the analysis of public opinion regarding the “Chinese” greenhouses and concentration of migrants in rural locations. In the summer of 2019, the author gathered a collection of interviews with residents of areas where the “Chinese” greenhouses were operating. Documents from the Chelyabinsk regional archive made it possible to supplement the overall picture of the Chinese migration to the Southern Ural region. The complexity of the study object required the use of a combination of methods. These included free informal interviews, content and discourse press analysis, and historical imagology. Our study shows that the formation of temporary economic facilities in rural areas has been perceived by the population as an irreversible ethnicization of space. This caused an increase of anxiety. In the media discourse and in collective mentality of the inhabitants, the ideas of “Chinese” greenhouses created images of “expansion” and numerousness of Chinese migrants. Around the greenhouses, a complex of notions of threats was formed (seizing and “spoiling” of land, tax evasion, low-quality vegetables, etc.). The concept of “Chinese” greenhouses has incorporated a large number of meanings that are understandable without further explanation: from the organization of rural space to a set of markers defining closed locations. Today there are practically no “Chinese” greenhouses in Chelyabinsk Region, they remain as a media, but not a spatial object. What was left out of sight of most observers is the temporality of the greenhouse complexes, the lack of any infrastructure for their long-term existence. Therefore, even theoretically, the “Chinese” greenhouses could not develop into full-fledged settlements (Chinatowns) in rural areas.
Key words: “Chinese” greenhouses, Chinese, rural space, migrants, ethnicity.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Article is published: 26.02.2021
South Ural State University, 76, Lenin av., Chelyabinsk, 454080, Russian Federation