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Imaginary Nomads: Deconstructing the Representation of Mongolia as a Land of Nomads

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image of Inner Asia

Mongolia is often depicted as a country of nomads roaming over unbounded land. This largely romantic projection essentialises Mongolia for both Western and domestic consumption. Serving the habit of outsiders to construct an imagined Other and the need of Mongolians for cultural demarcation, the Mongolian landscape and Mongolian herders have become a facade through which the portrayal of Mongolia as a 'nomadic nation' is widely constructed and perpetuated. This article problematises these essentialised projections of Mongolia and unbinds Mongolia from the reductive mould of a 'nomadic nation'. It further questions the very existence of 'unbounded land' and the notion of 'free-roaming nomads', both of which are intimately attached to the modern construction of Mongolian identity. It then seeks to explain the persistence of the nomadic myth despite its tenuous underpinnings.


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