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The Anti-Social Contract: Injurious Talk and Dangerous Exchanges in Northern Mongolia

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The Anti-Social Contract

Injurious Talk and Dangerous Exchanges in Northern Mongolia

Lars Højer

216 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-246-3 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (July 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78533-247-0 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“This is a long-awaited book… [that] was already a classic before it even came out, and it is therefore quite logical, although rather belatedly, that it will find its due place within the range of excellent monographs on the anthropology of Inner Asia that have come out in English over the past decade.” • Inner Asia

“This book is a very important and vibrant ethnographic work… By emphasizing the dynamics of distancing, suspicion and avoidance in anti-social relations, the author introduces a new, and much fuller, conceptual purchase onto the anthropological term ‘other’, which has underpinned a great deal of classical and contemporary analysis in the discipline.” • Katherine Swancutt, King’s College London

“I found this to be a wonderfully rich, fascinating book; an original piece of anthropological writing that was both thoughtful and carefully-observed. It has a firm observational base and makes some important and, I think, unique ethnographic and analytical points.” • David Sneath, University of Cambridge


Set in a remote district of villagers and nomadic pastoralists in the northernmost part of Mongolia, this book introduces a local world where social relationships are cast in witchcraft-like idioms of mistrust and suspicion. While the apparent social breakdown that followed the collapse of state socialism in Mongolia often implied a chaotic lack of social cohesion, this ethnography reveals an everyday universe where uncertain relations are as much internally cultivated in indigenous Mongolian perceptions of social relatedness, as they are externally confronted in postsocialist surroundings of unemployment and diminished social security.

Lars Højer is an associate professor at the Centre for Comparative Culture Studies, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen. He has carried out extensive fieldwork in Mongolia and Inner Asia. His previous anthropological research has mainly focused on social, economic, religious, and political aspects of transition processes in urban and rural post-socialist Mongolia.

Subject: SociologyAnthropology (General)
Area: Asia-Pacific


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