Kinship in post-socialist Mongolia : its revival and reinvention.
University of Cambridge
Division of Social Anthropology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Park, H. (1998). Kinship in post-socialist Mongolia : its revival and reinvention. (Doctoral thesis). https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11600
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This thesis argues that kinship is experiencing revived importance in every aspect of life in post-socialist Mongolia and suggests a number of reasons for this phenomenon. Under socialism the state performed functions that in traditional times were the province of kin relations and networks, including the provision of housing, employment, child care, social welfare, economic help, and so on. Now that socialism is gone, kinship is beginning to fulfill many of these functions again. It is therefore -lhe Je-n ,se 6f' filling the void left by socialism. ?' I approach this topic from three perspectives: the encouragement of "old" traditions (Chapter 1), the history of kinship terms (Chapter 2), and the manifestations of kinship in Mongolian society, economy, and conceptual life (Chapters 3, 4 and 5). In Chapter 1, I outline the various ways in which Mongolians have looked at the past as a source from which to choose the aspects of kinship that they wish to revive through "old" traditions and memories. A diachronic analysis of kin terms (from the eighteenth century until today) in Chapter 2 illustrates the changes that have taken place in kinship terminology that reflect changes at the theoretical level. The practical aspects of kinship are examined in three parts: kinship relations and networks (Chapter 3), kinship and economic relations (Chapter 4), and kinship metaphors (Chapter 5). Four main themes have emerged from this study. First, ritual is now being revitalised. Second, there is a mutuality of obligations in kin relations, that does not exist in non-kin relations which tend to be based on economic considerations. Third, although there is a relatively clear boundary between kin and non-kin, it is still possible for outsiders to become insiders if they develop the trust of the kin group. While there are many degrees of acceptance, one of the most interesting is the relatively new phenomenon of fictive (huurai) kinship, which has developed only since the beginning of the post-socialist period. I argue that fictive kinship has become common because it has all the social advantages of kinship and all the economic advantages of non-kinship. Last, kinship distinctions were present, but invisible during the socialist era because kinship ties were discouraged and pseudokinship relations such as "brotherhood" and comradeship took their place. Today kinship distinctions are visible again, as sources of support in troubled times, and as ways of defining what it means to be Mongolian, including the establishment of genealogical links to the national hero Chinghis Khan. The involvement of intellectuals in the reinvention of kinship and tradition is an interesting and proble'm atic phenomenon with both positive and negative implications for postsocialist Mongolian society.
This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.11600