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Speaker Series – Kenneth Linden

January 16, 2018 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Ravenous Beasts, Pitiful Sinners, and Class Enemies: A History of the Wolf in Mongolia

In this talk I will offer a preliminary examination of the history of the relationship between wolves and humans. The history of the wolf in Mongolia provides an opportunity to disentangle the many competing factors used to explain human, environmental, and animal relations in Mongolia and globally. According to common wisdom, wolves play a sacred and revered role for Mongolians. This is in contrast to the rest of the world’s antagonistic relationship with the wolf, especially the American extermination of the wolf. However, a closer examination shows Mongolians most often portrayed wolves as objects of hatred, scorn, and as threats to lives and livelihood. Wolves are portrayed in an array of roles, from a monstrous predator, to greedy exploiter, to hunted fugitives. During the socialist period of Mongolia, wolf hunting became Marxist labor necessary to modernize the herding economy and build socialism. Although ultimately unsuccessful, socialist Mongolian wolf extermination campaigns showed similar tactics, professionalism, and businesslike violence reminiscent of wolf extermination projects in North America.
In this talk, I will use a combination of sources, including a close reading of literary sources, data from socialist government documents, hunters’ handbooks, and visual sources to examine how socialist era attitudes and policies to wolves compare with earlier periods of Mongolian history. This project is part of my larger dissertation research on the environmental and animal history of collectivization in socialist Mongolia.

About Speaker: 

Kenneth Linden is a Ph.D. candidate in the Central Eurasian Studies Department at Indiana University, where he also earned his M.A. degree. Kenneth studies Mongolian history, with a focus on animal and environmental history. His dissertation research is on collectivization in the Mongolian People’s Republic and its transformation of how people interacted with animals and the environment. He is currently in Mongolia conducting his dissertation research with funding from Fulbright-Hays.
Kenneth first studied in Mongolia from 2014 as an ACMS Language Fellow. The following summer he conducted preliminary dissertation research as an ACMS Field Research Fellow. Kenneth continues to work study with the ACMS during his dissertation research.


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.

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.

Co-Sponsored by the American Corner, Ulaanbaatar

a man by a sculpted rock


January 16, 2018
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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