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Speaker Series – (Dis)integrations? Mega Projects and Narratives of State Legitimacy in the Gobi Desert

December 5, 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

About the speaker:

Ariell Ahearn is an ESRC postdoctoral fellow at the School for Geography and the Environment at the University of Oxford. She holds an MPA from Cornell University and a DPhil from the University of Oxford. She has worked with rural pastoralists in Mongolia since 2004 with research focusing on land tenure, local governance, gendered divisions of labor and social organization. In 2016, she worked in Omnogovi province as an independent expert on a panel to address the IFC’s Compliance Advisor Ombudsman case on Oyu Tolgoi’s impacts on pastoralism and the environment in Khan Bogd. She joined ACMS in 2004 as an SIT student. Ahearn owes much of her academic success to ACMS, which awarded her with a research fellowship to support her PhD fieldwork and supported her career development over the last 13 years.


This paper examines narratives of territorial integration and development in infrastructure projects linked to China’s One Belt, One Road. In particular, it engages with qualitative research around social conflicts surrounding the Oyu Tolgoi mega mine in the Gobi desert as a means to explore the concept of state fragility. At what moments are infrastructure projects a catalyst for imagining state integration, and at what moments do they lead to ruptures in the legitimacy of the state? The extent to which international corporations are seen as a mediating agent for restructuring inequalities in national economic distribution and social development is explored.


The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting scholarship in Mongolian Studies. The ACMS Speaker Series are organized in partnership with the U.S. Embassy and the Natsagdorj Library and provides an important platform for researchers engaged in Mongolia to share their experiences and findings with the public. The event promotes information exchange on a variety of subjects related to Mongolia text and is free and open to the public.

Co-Sponsored by the American Cultural and Information Center, Ulaanbaatar

In an effort to reach interested viewers outside of Mongolia, this Speaker Series will be broadcast live on the ACMS Facebook page! All Facebook live videos can be re-played at your convenience. 

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December 5, 2017
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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