Nationalist Sentiments Obscured by ‘Pejorative Labels’

Birthplace, Homeland and Mobilisation against Mining in Mongolia

In: Inner Asia

Abstract

This paper aims to unveil sources of nationalist sentiments that are often disregarded, in part because they are often given ‘pejorative labels’ such as ‘populist’ and ‘resource nationalist’ by those who promote the market economy and mining industry. Anthropologists can extend their research beyond such labelling and find out what is at the origin of such popular mobilisations and consequent political decisions against mining. I find that the culturally accepted term nutag, which means birthplace, homeland and country of origin, is the basic source of nationalist sentiments that resist mining. The term nutag has evolved from meaning one’s naturally related birthplace to referring also to the politically independent country of Mongolia. The ideas associated with the original meaning make such nationalist sentiments different from, and much broader than, the idea of controlling natural resources indicated by the term ‘resource nationalism’.

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