This thesis is posed as a projective fable and a design strategy where a country’s political economy becomecatalyzed through leveraging sectors that have been traditionally seen as anti-modern and challenges towardsdevelopment. As a strategy proposal, it understands the Steppe’s ecology as one of time and cycles of economicsectors, with portions to be amplified and dialed back depending on seasonality. By capitalizing on nomadic pas-toralists’ movements across vast territory and modes of transport that are able to go farther than areas of roadsor bridges, through rerouting and coordinating existing economic processes, Mongolia can capitalize on one ofits inherent strengths: an economy of logistics. The proposal is for a set of nomadic free trade zones that changelocation depending on the seasonal economies, leveraging pastoralists as a logistics company in themselves.Rather than approaching the issues facing Mongolia as isolated problems or positioned in binaries to each other,this proposal takes a systems view to Mongolia’s current political economy – understanding that the veneer ofmineral riches that Mongolia possesses are actually unable to leave the country due to lack of infrastructure, thatits status as underdeveloped is tied to a lack of data on its territory and the condition of being unmapped at highresolutions. The proposal pushes on the idea that economic plans must be rigid or persistent throughout an entireyear, and instead its strategy takes cues from local knowledge and local economies; understanding the carefuleconomic events of each season and the importance of timing (going to market, a proliferation of mining duringwarmer seasons). Using coincident timing, it allows the overlaps such as increased nomadic movement in springand summer, along with increased mineral ore production, to spur a spring-summer increase in free trade zones.In fall and winter, free trade zones are decreased and used for sites of data processing (from grassroots mappingfor increased economic and political visibility in a global context) to educational facilities. The strategy recyclesand reuses spatial structures that serve as the foundation of this proposal.
Somewhere from 2030, a woman recounts how Mongolia became the center of the Asian economy. Unearthing anarc of history from a single point in 1990, a land of nomads, deep ecology and open pastureland seems diametri-cally opposed to emerging resource extraction, urbanization and infrastructure building. While Mongolia remainspoised to shed its communist past, by the early 2000s it remains indexed as a developing country, full of mineralriches that seem unable to leave its borders.What have the men of science and technology overlooked? To answer this, an ambitious young geographer pro-poses an economy of time that so carefully aligns with the Steppe’s ecology of time. His Ten Year Plan identifies133 free trade zones that exist seasonally, dependent on a site’s water availability, location to seasonally appropri-ate pasture, wind direction and topography. Within these free trade zones, a careful circuitry of ecological infra-structure propels temporary airfields and ice shields for water storage, bathhouses and agile infrastructures ofhangars.As the Ten Year Plan nears completion, the young geographer discovers that his plan has cycled through – Mon-golia has turned its story around, becoming the key logistics corridor between Russia and China, a stronghold ofinland trade. The model of Steppe urbanization spreads to other countries in Central Asia, a model predicated oncareful timing, mobility and restraint of trade events with meteorological ones. China’s own infrastructure build-ing has slowed down, and its economy begins to lag in contrast to its nomadic neighbor, a neighbor unconvincedof patriarchal utopias and the sheer poetry of data and parameters. To fend off economic threat, China launches acampaign against the Steppe itself, to attack this ecology that remains fertile for flexible accumulation, of nomad-ic capitalism, by beginning a Great Green Wall project to prevent desertification.In all cycles, the young geographer realizes, time becomes distanced from the linear. As his plane takes off fromone of the temporary airfields he has designed, he begins to write his letter to the woman, a woman who will re-count the events that have unfolded. His letter is nothing else but a resignation to the impermanence of things.