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Senior Research Seminar: Dr Elizabeth Turk (University of Cambridge)

When Jan 18, 2019
from 04:15 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Edmund Leach Room, Department of Social Anthropology Free School Lane, Cambridge
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Dr Elizabeth Turk, (University of Cambridge)

From State Spirit to Homeland: Modernist Cosmologies and Territorialized State Reverence in Post-Soviet Mongolia


While the interrelation and irreducibility of Mongolian politico-economic and cosmological forms have been illustrated (Pedersen 2011; High 2017; Empson 2018) this paper asks, in what ways might the former influence underlying orientations of the latter? 


Twenty months of doctoral research between 2014 and 2016 highlighted the centrality of renowned mountains, personal and ancestral homelands, and therapeutic landscapes to conceptions of national belonging; during an age of rapid (re-)construction of national culture, worship of agentive constituents of such landscapes (lus, savdag, gazriin/uuliin ezed) is also a way to revere the nation. By tracing Soviet social progressivist and scientific influences with respect to the ethno-national republic and dual romanticist and utilitarian conceptions of its Nature, I will illustrate some of the ways in which modernist, medical, and scientific concepts animate contemporary landscape-based cosmologies.


By considering the imperial duress (Stoler 2016) of the Soviet era in the partial re-inscriptions and amplifications of an imagined national heritage, this paper draws attention to the semiotic stability of certain concepts, and their propensity to encourage continuity thought. 

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