Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Treasure Underfoot and Far Away: Mining, Foreignness, and Friendship in Contemporary Mongolia
Authors: Smith, Marissa J.
Advisors: Lederman, Rena S.
Borneman, John W.
Contributors: Anthropology Department
Subjects: Cultural anthropology
Asian studies
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation concerns relations of international friendship in Erdenet, Mongolia. Erdenet was established in the mid-1970s by the Mongolian People's Republic and the Soviet Union, planned and built with one of the world's largest copper mines. The Erdenet enterprise was never fully privatized and Mongolian-Russian relations are strong in Erdenet, while the enterprise also involves many relationships reaching beyond the Eastern Bloc. The description and analysis are based on participant observation conducted from 2010 to 2012, primarily with engineers involved in training programs and research projects with partners from outside Mongolia. As Erdenet was settled by people from across Mongolia as well as the Soviet Union, residents hail from multiple nationalities and often also reckon relationships among themselves in terms of nationality. Using the concepts of accretion and erosion, the analysis draws together various practices of developing relations across and of difference, which are coded as national but also in terms of profession and age. Associated with the continuity of the mining enterprise, these systems of relation are available to people in Erdenet in ways they are not elsewhere in Eurasia. Proper relations with foreigners as well as nonhumans including the Buddha are also critical to access and control of eternally reproducible erdene valuables, which include future generations as well as ores. Mongolia has long been involved in international socialism and its common projects of nationalism and internationalism, science and technology, education and professionalism. Mongolian concepts and practices are however foregrounded here, practices such as the construction of ovoo, physical structures where earthly, animal, and human substances are regularly placed and accrete as ever-growing friendly communities of humans and nonhumans called nutag. The social consumption of alcohol is another modality of accretion, as is speaking another's national language. Ovoo practices (including mining), drinking and feasting, and language-switching are creative and dangerous in ways that only shamans master, but directors also engage widely in the multiple kinds of relation associated with different nationalities, professions, and ages. This ethnography also comprises a first-person account in which the anthropologist accounts her own accretion in Mongolia, risking erosion while trusting in friendship.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Anthropology

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Smith_princeton_0181D_11391.pdf9.7 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.