Detachable Groups and Kinship Tensions

The Tsongol at the Russian–Qing Border

in Inner Asia
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This paper concerns the formation of detachable political groups among the Mongols in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and the process of their reattachment to larger polities within the Russian and Qing empires. It traces the case of Okin Taisha, who split off from the Abaga Mongols in present-day Inner Mongolia, became a subject of the Russians, then of a Khalkha Mongolian noble, and finally returned to Russia. The paper argues that kinship relations were a crucial means for conceptualising these attachments and detachments. Kinship should not be assumed invariably to imply solidarity, but rather also encodes division, inequality of status, and uncertainty in personal relations. The paper also aims to contribute to understanding of the internal composition of such split-away polities, which were not initially based on kinship, even though their aristocratic leaders expressed their relations with other leaders in kin terms.

Detachable Groups and Kinship Tensions

The Tsongol at the Russian–Qing Border

in Inner Asia



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See Namsaraeva (2010) for discussion of the concept of the mother’s brother/sister’s son relationship as characterising the relation between Buryats and Russians as nations in twentieth-century history.


Natsagdorj suggests however (2010: 7; 2012: 108) that Okin was exiled to Barguzin because he was counted a Tabangud; a large group of them had just defected to Mongolia and the Russians tried to remove those remaining from the border.


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