New Book: A History of Land Use in Mongolia: The Thirteenth Century to the Present

Elizabeth Endicott

A History of Land Use in Mongolia: the Thirteenth Century to the Present

Palgrave/Macmillan, November 2012.

While modern Mongolia has attracted much attention from political scientists and economists seeking to explain the rapid changes that have occurred since the end of state socialism (1921-1990) and the advent of the free market democratic era (1990 – present), far less attention has been directed to core issues of land use in a country that supports a pastoral nomadic population.  A History of Land Use in Mongolia: the Thirteenth Century to the Present examines conceptual and practical issues of land use in historical terms.  For instance, to what degree over the centuries have external forms of authority – secular and religious – shaped herders’ relationships to the pasturelands that are crucial to their livelihoods?  What sorts of strategies in dealing with authority – confrontation, avoidance, flexibility – have Mongolia’s pastoral nomadic herders relied upon?  From a historian’s perspective, the current ways in which Mongolia’s herders have adapted to a new economic/political system are best fathomed by understanding how herders have adapted in previous historical regimes dating back to the thirteenth century.

The text of the book is accompanied by several of the author’s photographs.  Among these, for instance, are photos of winter/spring livestock shelters.  These shelters and their surrounding pasturelands represent a key area in which evolving land legislation and local practices intersect in today’s Mongolia.  Since summer and fall pastureland is by law open to common use and unrestricted by any form of land deed, the winter and spring livestock shelters point to new concepts of land leasing and ownership in a countryside largely devoid of fencing.

In the course of the book, Mongolian government policies vis-à-vis pastoral nomadic production are compared with Chinese government policies in ethnically Tibetan and Mongolian regions within the PRC.  Challenges faced by Mongolia’s herding population are also compared and contrasted with those faced by herders in neighboring Kazakhstan.

About the Author

Elizabeth Endicott is a professor emerita of History at Middlebury College in Vermont. She is the author of Mongolian Rule in China: Local Administration in the Yuan Dynasty and Pages from the Past: the 1910 Moscow Trade Expedition to Mongolia.

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