The Politics of Ritual Form(ation) in Contemporary Mongolia
This article explores the thing-like and seemingly externally-derived quality of ritualized action in ‘alternative’ medical settings in contemporary Mongolia. Engaging Humphrey & Laidlaw’s archetypal actions of ritual, the cultural rupture of the Soviet era presents a case study in which continuity of ritualized action cannot be assumed. Amidst the post-1990 (re-)construction of national culture occurs the making of ritual; elements derived from shared public knowledge become constituted in ritual more recently and frequently than can be accounted for by an aperture-like model, where previously external elements gradually filter in. Building on regional literature concerning loss of ritual form and recent syncretic innovation, I suggest that the affordances of form – mobility, iterability and malleability – capture the politics inherent to the re-ordering of associations in the making of ritual.