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Chinggis Khan in the Identity Practices of Modern Buryats

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In the identity discourse of Post Soviet Buryatia the modelling of ethnic boundaries has priority, and the ethnic marker ‘Buryat’ is increasingly replaced by the wider marker ‘Buryat- Mongol.’ In this way a revitalised historical memory allows the synonymising of ethnicity and political identity. This move inspires elites in their construction of a new mythology, in which the glorious pages of the Mongol empire and Chinggis Khan have become the basis of a new discourse. The article shows how elites use the ‘confirmations’ that are allegedly preserved in the legends to affirm their identity. Such ideas include, that it is in the territory of ethnic Buryatia that the most sacred places connected to Chinggis Khan are located (his birthplace, throne, and burial place). Furthermore, Chinggis Khan is ‘privatised’: his Buryat origin and even the Buryat sources of the Mongol empire is ‘proved.’ Positive features of Chinggis’s character and intentions, and his progressive activities in the creation of ‘Eurasian’ and ‘global’ space, are emphasised. The discourse asserts the globalising character of his activities not only in the lay sense and not only regarding the past. The article discusses how the quoted texts both implicitly and explicitly contain the idea that a happy future for the Buryats is inevitably determined by their ties with Chinggis Khan and the loci connected with him, an idea which sacralises and cosmologises the territories where Buryats reside.


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