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Speaker Series – The ‘festival of forty thousand horses’: number and value in the Mongolian countryside.

September 4, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


Since the end of state socialism in Mongolia, animal ownership has shifted from being largely collective-based to being vested in private households. Much attention has been given to how herding households strive to increase the sizes of their flocks. From this perspective, increasing the quantity of herd animals is seen as a response to contemporary conditions of economic risk, precarity, and the self-sufficient nature of household economies.

This paper examines quantitative increases in livestock from another point of view. It argues that such increases are valued not just from an economistic perspective, but also in line with cultural systems of value that prize abundance and plenty, and endow livestock with particular attributes. Seen from this angle, quantity becomes a means for valorizing various pastoral qualities. I make this argument with reference to a ‘festival of forty thousand horses’ celebrated in rural Mongolia in 2015.

About Presenter: Joseph Bristley:

Joseph Bristley received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from University College London (2017). His doctoral research studied pastoral economies in rural Mongolia. Joseph’s research focuses thematically on economic anthropology, the anthropology of time, and the anthropology of post-socialism. He is currently an affiliate researcher at UCL Anthropology’s ‘Emerging Subjects’ project.

About ACMS:

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 and is free and open to the public.


J Bristley


September 4, 2018
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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