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Title: The changing meaning of work, herding and social relations in Rural Mongolia
Author: Ahearn-Ligham, Ariell
ISNI:       0000 0004 6346 710X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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By using ethnographic methods based on extensive participant observation, this thesis explores the role of pastoralism and rural work as a medium of social reproduction for families in rural Mongolia. This work is reported in four articles, which examine herder household management, decision making, and the spatial aspects of household social and economic production. As standalone pieces and as a united work, the articles make a case for understanding social change through the lens of spatialized performative relations. Pastoralism as a form of work and social system is one aspect of these relations. I contend that people consciously engage with herding as a form of work, which is an important reference point in political subjectivities and administrative practices that idealize the state. The policies and practices of government institutions, including non-state agencies, play powerful roles in the particular forms through which relations are spatialized. By taking this approach and prioritizing herder critical reflections on their own lives, I argue against the dual claim that herders exist outside the state and are bound to local environments. I show, in contrast, how herder efforts to access resources beyond local environments, such as formal schooling for children, spatially transform the labour, finance, and mobility systems of households. My work presents three key arguments with reference to these concepts. The first is that patron-client relations continue to play a strong role in family hierarchies and wider social alliances used to gain access to needed resources and services. Secondly, I argue that pastoralist work is an integral part of governance and the propagation of the moral authority of the state. Pastoralism as a form of work should be seen as a political enterprise as much as an economic or cultural one. Finally, attention to the spatial organisation of household economies, including household splitting and new types of mobility, reiterates the significance of place in human agency.
Supervisor: Jeffrey, Craig ; Chatty, Dawn ; Sternberg, Troy Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Human geography ; Pastoral systems--Mongolia ; Land tenure--Social aspects--Mongolia ; Mongolia--Economic conditions--21st century ; Mongolia--Social conditions--21st century