chapter
3 Pages

Introduction

WithCaroline Grillot

This chapter analyzes ethnographical data on shuttle trade and e-commerce. It considers how "ordinary people" can pay or not pay taxes, obey or violate rules, and hence remain in control and continue to engage in everyday politics. People often effectively resist becoming "legible" as subjects and choose to subvert control by "illegal" activities, staying to some extent invisible. Invisibility as a marker also enables one to grasp how decisions are made, how politics within and beyond state institutions is produced, and how it might be debunked. The chapter is concerned with the question of who makes sovereign decisions regarding the control of movement across borders, the regulation and collection of taxes, and the fixing of the state budget. In the Russian–Chinese border cities of the 1990s, custom checkpoints became a space for incredible entrepreneurial opportunities and sources of hope, as well as targets for surveillance.