The main aim of this proposed research is to understand why and how Mongolia came to have more than 20 officially recognized ethnic groups within a relatively homogenous population that still considers itself to form a common Mongol ethnicity. To understand this puzzle, the research will examine two hitherto neglected, yet critical developments: the ethnological study of Mongolia and the Mongolian state’s nationality policy, and their impact on Mongolians’ way of conceptualizing themselves in terms of nationalities or ethnic groups. In addition, by analyzing the agency that the state power and “scientific” knowledge play in the construction of an ethnically framed vision of society, this research aims to explore the theoretical implication of Mongolia’s apparently paradoxical and counterintuitive case to the understanding of ethnicity.

The project is funded by the Humboldt Foundation.

Lhamsuren Munkh-Erdene

Humboldt Research Fellow, Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Department Integration and Conflict