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The Contribution of Socialist Ethnography to Darhad 'Shamanism'

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This article analyses socialist ethnographies of the Darhad in northernmost Mongolia. It compares accounts of the early 1930s by the Buryat scholars Sanjeev and Zhamtsarano with those of the 1960s by the Mongolian ethnographer Badamhatan and the Hungarian scholar Diószegi. It shows how these accounts increasingly identified the Darhad with the shamans among them and laid the ground for the widespread present-day perception of the Darhad as 'shamanists'. Furthermore, it discusses how socialist ethnographies were connected to the larger Mongolian socialist nationality project and contributed to the very ideological foundation of the Mongolian nation-state. A careful analysis of the accounts reveals that in the early 1960s, when Westerners believed that shamanism in Siberia and Mongolia was becoming extinct, socialist ethnographers met with numerous practising Darhad shamans in the Shishget depression in northern Hövsgöl.


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