Territorializing national identity in post-socialist Mongolia: Purity, authenticity, and Chinggis Khaan

Orhon Myadar, James Deshaw Rae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


This article examines the geographies of new identification and belonging in post-Soviet Mongolia and identifies an increasingly nationalist trend over the past two decades. It explains how Mongolian society has constructed, contested, and renegotiated its national identity with the disappearance of the overarching communist ideology that had dictated the political landscape of the country for nearly seven decades. Conceptually, "national identity" is treated as a social construct, produced and mediated to reflect shifting power arrangements and ideological commitment of the state. Mongolias case is no exception. Mongolias post-socialist identity has been narrated and enacted by various social and political actors, each expressing an "ideal" representation of the nation. It is a continuous process of boundary-making and of narrating identification and differences within those discursive frontiers. Theoretically, the article juxtaposes a traditional approach in understanding nationalism with a critical treatment of nation and national identity. Using Anthony Smiths ethnosymbols as the cursory reading of the expressions of national identity in Mongolia, it arrives at the conclusion that Mongolias identity-building project is neither organic, nor confined to a predictable set of markers that are inherent in Smiths approach. Following Pierre Bourdieu, it rather regards these markers as tools of the state that are used to create categories in making and unmaking groups. The article concludes that constructing national identity is a complex process of negotiating and renegotiating "ideal" versions of Mongolia, a process by which power arrangements are constantly and dialectically articulated and muted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-577
Number of pages18
JournalEurasian Geography and Economics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 3 2014


  • Mongolia
  • national identity
  • nationalism
  • post-Soviet
  • post-socialist transition
  • territory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Economics and Econometrics


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