«Chinese» market in the space of a Russian city (the case of Chelyabinsk)  

Avdashkin A.A. (Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation)


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This article is focused on the problem of formation and development of «Chinese markets». Most of the academic texts on the issue are based on materials from the Irkutsk «Shanghai» market. «Chinese markets» of the Ural cities have not been explored. The purpose of this manuscript is to trace the formation and development of ideas about the «Chinese market» among the residents of a large Ural city using the example of Chelyabinsk. The source base includes the author’s personal observations made in the Chinatown area (vicinity of the «Zarechny Market»), archival documents on migration and trade between China and Chelyabinsk Oblast. In 2019 the author gathered interviews with consumers of the «Chinese» market, apartment owners who rented out housing to the Chinese, and market workers. The Chelyabinsk and all-Russian press are important sources for studying public opinion regarding the «Chinese» markets. The complexity of the study object resulted in the use of a complex of methods. These are free informal interviews with city dwellers, included observation in the «Chinese market», analysis of press content and discourse. Our study of perception of the «Chinese market» showed a lot in common between the emergence of «Chinese markets», and, most importantly, the reaction of the host community in Chelyabinsk and Siberian cities to this process. In the media discourse and in the mass consciousness of the townspeople, ideas about the «Chinese market» created an image of a «Chinatown» and a large number of Chinese migrants. Around the market, a complex of perceptions of threats has been formed (crime, tax evasion, low-quality goods, etc.). The Chinese market has formed complex networks of social relations between traders and consumers, the host society and migrants. The term of «Chinese market» has incorporated a large number of meanings that are understandable without additional explanation: from organization of urban space to a set of markers that determine social status. Today, the «Chinese market» is the image of the «East» for citizens, where different ethnic groups, borders, and cultures are intertwined.

Key words: «Chinese» market, urban space, ethnicity, migrants, Chelyabinsk.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

Accepted: 02.03.2020

Article is published: 05.06.2020


Avdashkin A.A.

South Ural State University, prosp. Lenina, 76, Chelyabinsk, 454000, Russian Federation