Subject: Speaker Series - June 2nd 5:30 PM, Natsagdorj library

ACMS Speaker Series
 Choking on Progress: Road Dust
and Mongolia's Mining Boom in
Eastern South Gobi Province
Speaker: Sara Jackson

5:30 PM, Tuesday - June 2nd, 2015, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

South Gobi province is at the center of Mongolia’s mining boom, where companies began exporting minerals over dirt-track roads in the early 2000s. This paper examines recent controversies surrounding the development of mining roads near the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine and the Chinese border. At the time of the research, local residents, particularly nomadic herders, were concerned that dust produced from unpaved mining roads was coating the pasture, causing illnesses among livestock, and rendering life unsustainable in the region. I argue that the dust from mining roads is an undesirable by-product of modernity that challenges the promises of progress and development. The dust excludes local residents from the promises of national development through mining as the dust infiltrates their daily lives and disconnects them from livelihoods and landscapes. I demonstrate how the presence of dust renders mining an uncomfortably intimate experience as state and corporate actors negotiate responsibility for infrastructure development. The paper contributes to a political ecology of dust and provides an analysis of perceptions of Gobi dust. Methods for the paper include interviews, focus groups, and participant observation conducted in South Gobi province and Ulaanbaatar in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
About the Presenter

  About the Speaker: Sara Jackson

Sara recently completed her Ph.D. in Geography from York University in Toronto, Ontario. Her dissertation is entitled Building a Mineral Nation? The Oyu Tolgoi Copper-Gold Mine and Contested Infrastructure Development in Mongolia. Currently, she is an ACMS Field Research Fellow and teaches Geography at Metropolitan State University of Denver. In 2009, she taught English in the School of Economic Studies at the National University of Mongolia. Her ongoing research interests include political and cultural geographies of resource extraction as well as creative approaches to integrate empirical research with fiction. She has published articles for academic and community audiences about the politics of resource extraction in Mongolia as well as ethnic politics in North America. She has been an active member of ACMS since 2009

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Thank you to the American Corner and the Natsagdorj Library for sponsoring this event.


The American Center for Mongolian Studies is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting scholarship in Mongolian Studies.

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