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Department of Social Anthropology


CUSAS Seminar with Dr K G Hutchins (Oberlin College)

The melodious hoofbeat: Ungulate rhythms in the post-socialist conservatory 

This paper examines cases in which traditional musicians in Mongolia bring the perspectives of rural non-human animals into urban music institutions, troubling the colonial nature–culture and urban–rural divisions around which they were designed. In Mongolia, music has played a central role in the socialist modernisation projects of the twentieth century, as well as the protests that led to the country’s transition to parliamentary democracy in 1990. These projects involved the formation of urban-based national conservatories and orchestras designed around a western model that attempts to separate nature from culture. How, then, do multispecies relationships play out in a post-socialist context, where capitalist and socialist modernities have each left their mark? In this paper I argue that Mongolian musicians incorporate non-human animals into musical heritage institutions in ways that both depend on and resist the interplay between socialist and capitalist colonial projects.


Kip Grosvenor Hutchins is a cultural anthropologist, currently working as a visiting assistant professor in anthropology, East Asian Studies, and Environmental Studies at Oberlin College. His research examines how nonhumans intersect with heritage in post-socialist Mongolia, with a particular focus on musical performance and transmission. He takes a multi-modal and multi-species ethnographic approach, and has been working with musicians, music teachers, herders (and their herds), heritage bearers, and heritage administrators in rural Dundgovi province and urban Ulaanbaatar since 2010. 

Please register for this event:

Friday, 12 March, 2021 - 18:00 to 19:30
Event location: 
Online - please register