Ruiyi Zhi is a PhD candidate at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge. She conducted doctoral research at Chinese-owned companies in the extractive economy of Mongolia, with a focus on labour relations. She has also undertaken archival and oral history research regarding Chinese workers in socialist Mongolia. Prior to her doctoral degree, she explored post-socialist terrains and memories in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the Horn of Africa.
At a Chinese-owned fluorspar mine in Mongolia, one group of workers stood out from the rest. Their life stories—often narrated with a tinge of nostalgia for home and a golden age of industrial labour—were closely intertwined with fluorspar. Joining them on an annual trip from their workplace to their once fluorspar-rich hometown in Jiangxi Province […]
Despite the ostensible complementarity of the structural shortage of industrial labour in Mongolia and the excess thereof in China, Chinese workers have constituted a source of anxiety in post-socialist Mongolia. Drawing on fieldwork at a Chinese-owned fluorspar mine in Mongolia between 2018 and 2019, this essay sheds light on the tension between bilingual and monolingual Chinese workers in the Sino-Mongolian industrial sphere. While the monolinguals rely on the bilinguals to facilitate industrial production, they also regard the latter in a suspicious light.