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The Anti-Social Contract
Injurious Talk and Dangerous Exchanges in Northern Mongolia
216 pages, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-78533-246-3 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2019)
eISBN 978-1-78533-247-0 eBook
“This book is a very important and vibrant ethnographic work… By emphasizing the dynamics of distancing, suspicion and avoidance in anti-social relations, the author introduces a new, and much fuller, conceptual purchase onto the anthropological term ‘other’, which has underpinned a great deal of classical and contemporary analysis in the discipline.” • Katherine Swancutt, King’s College London
“I found this to be a wonderfully rich, fascinating book; an original piece of anthropological writing that was both thoughtful and carefully-observed. It has a firm observational base and makes some important and, I think, unique ethnographic and analytical points.” • David Sneath, University of Cambridge
Set in a remote district of villagers and nomadic pastoralists in the northernmost part of Mongolia, this book introduces a local world where social relationships are cast in witchcraft-like idioms of mistrust and suspicion. While the apparent social breakdown that followed the collapse of state socialism in Mongolia often implied a chaotic lack of social cohesion, this ethnography reveals an everyday universe where uncertain relations are as much internally cultivated in indigenous Mongolian perceptions of social relatedness, as they are externally confronted in postsocialist surroundings of unemployment and diminished social security.
Lars Højer is an associate professor at the Centre for Comparative Culture Studies, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen. He has carried out extensive fieldwork in Mongolia and Inner Asia. His previous anthropological research has mainly focused on social, economic, religious, and political aspects of transition processes in urban and rural post-socialist Mongolia.
Subject: Sociology General Anthropology
List of Figures
Notes on Transliteration
Introduction: Creating Difference from Within
Chapter 1. Centralisation and Dispersal: A District in the Market Era
Chapter 2. Dangerous Communications: Injurious Talk and the Perils of Standing Out
Chapter 3. Safe Communications: Formality and Hierarchy
Chapter 4. Morality and Danger: Religious Practices and Buddhist Directions
Chapter 5. Concealed Agencies: Divination, Loss and Magical Objects
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