The Ruler, the Wrestler, and the Archer

A Mongolian Way of Dwelling

In: Inner Asia
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  • 1 Université Paris Nanterre, Nanterre, France

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Abstract

This paper is an attempt to understand dwelling in Mongolia as the cultivated balancing of three interconnected virtues, prominently exhibited by some particular characters and exemplary people, yet actually to varying degrees expected from anybody else. These virtues are skilfulness (being mergen), force (hiimor’) and power or diplomacy (erh); they are best embodied by archers, wrestlers and rulers, respectively. Drawing on three ethnographic vignettes featuring a troubled diviner, an unlucky young man and a confused anthropologist, this paper highlights how different kinds of people strive to dwell well in post-socialist Mongolia, associating elements that compose the world they live in and checking the conditions in which they might impose themselves in it.

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