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Lost in the Post: Technologies of Imagination, and the Soviet Legacy in Post-Socialist Mongolia

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image of Inner Asia

Verdery has suggested exploring the parallels between post-socialist and postcolonial studies. Mongolia has, like many post-colonial states, experienced a series of almost simultaneous transformations in the twentieth century. After the advent of Soviet control in the 1920s Mongolia began to receive Leninist Modernisation and all the trappings of the Soviet version of the European nationstate. The imaginative project of Soviet order shaped the notion of the ‘nation’ and required an equivalent notion of the Russian Narod or ‘people’. The State Socialist ‘theatre state’ with its newly imagined (national) People as a compulsory audience, employed various ‘technologies of the imagination’ – parades, show trials, festivals, meetings and speeches etc. Relations between the Russian and Mongolian peoples were framed in terms of a fraternal metaphor – ah (elder brother). Today Mongolia finds itself in an economic and political position that is comparable to many post-colonial nations. It is now subject to the same discourse of development and the national and transnational institutions that shape conditions in the former colonies. The explicitly junior status of Mongolia with respect to a big Russian brother has been replaced with the implicit infantilisation of western-led Developmentalism, and the danger of a sensation of exclusion that Ferguson calls ‘abjection’.


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