Trans-temporal Hinges

Reflections on an Ethnographic Study of Chinese Infrastructural Projects in Mozambique and Mongolia

in Social Analysis
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  • 1 University of Copenhagen morten.pedersen@anthro.ku.dk
  • 2 Aarhus University etnomn@cas.au.dk
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Based on two case studies of Chinese infrastructural interventions in Mozambique and in Mongolia, this article introduces the notion of 'trans-temporal hinge' as a heuristic methodological concept that brings together phenomena and events otherwise distributed across time. The authors explore envelopes used when paying Mozambican workers at a construction site in Maputo and roads dividing Chinese oil workers and local nomads in southern and eastern Mongolia as concrete manifestations of trans-temporal hinges. In exploring the temporal properties of these phenomena, we define the trans-temporal hinge as a gathering point in which different temporalities are momentarily assembled. As an analytical scale derived from a specific ethnographic context, we argue that the trans-temporal hinge provides a novel and, quite literally, timely conceptual invention compared with other recent methods of anthropological knowledge production, such as multi-sited fieldwork.

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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