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Henryk Alff (2014): Embracing Chinese modernity? Articulation and positioning in China-Kazakhstan trade and exchange processes


While much has been written recently about the increasing geo-political and economic impact of Chinese ‘soft power’ on neighbouring countries to the West, relatively few studies explore local people’s reflections of China’s rise in its north-western borderlands. In this paper, I argue that people in Kazakhstan oriented in their commercial activities at China due to experiences of enduring interaction within business networks stretching to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou often support affirmative views towards Chinese modernity. Based on recent ethnographical research on Bolashak Bazaar in Almaty and in a Dungan village cluster near the border with Kyrgyzstan, this working paper elaborates how trade actors both articulate their positioning and become situated in development discourses and how state-endorsed principles of Chinese modernity are utilised and accommodated with established representations of social change. By so doing, the working paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of the dynamic impact of translocal connections and flows of ideas on the everyday negotiation of development and social change.

Download the paper here and follow the link to check out the entire Crossroads Asia Working Paper Series.



Katja Mielke & Anna-Katharina Hornidge (2014): "Crossroads Studies: From Spatial Containers to Interactions in Differentiated Spatialities. 'Area Studies'-Discussion paper of the Research Network Crossroads Asia.

Fore more information about Crossroads Studies and Crossroads Asia's Area Studies Debate see also Rethinking Area Studies



„Mobilizing Religion: Networks and Mobility“ – Crossroads Asia Conference

The second major conference "Mobilizing Religion: Networks and Mobility“ of the Competence Network Crossroads Asia took place at the Institute of Oriental and Asian Studies in Bonn, July 18-19, 2013. Crossroads Asia is an association of seven German research institutes conducting research on the concepts of mobility and of conflict, migration and development – in particular on the relevance of these concepts in defining ‘area’. The geographical focus of Crossroads Asia’s research lies on the area extending from eastern Iran to western China and from the Aral Sea to northern India.


Click here for download


Click here for download

Videos of conference panels and interviews now online

on Youtube (by ZEF Bonn)

and interviews

Now available for download is an article on the conference (in German) "Mobilisierende Religion. Von translokalen Grenzüberschreitungen und kognitiven Umdeutungen" written by Felicia Scheliga, published in Südasien 3/2013.

Kompetenznetzwerk Crossroads Asia

Das Kompetenznetzwerk Crossroads Asia verfolgt einen neuartigen regionalwissenschaftlichen Ansatz, der wissenschaftliche Forschung zu thematisch begründeten "Figurationen" in den Vordergrund stellt. Der geographische Untersuchungsraum dieses Kompetenznetzwerks, der bislang in den Regionalstudien nicht als solcher definiert wurde, reicht vom östlichen Iran bis Westchina und vom Aralsee bis nach Nordindien. Wir bezeichnen diesen Untersuchungsraum hier als Crossroads Asia.

Crossroads Asia (klicken zum Vergrößern)