Literacy Under Authority: The Mongolian Cultural Campaigns



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Cambridge Jouornals


In the twentieth century, authoritarian states throughout Asia mobilized mass populations to adopt modern subjectivities and national identities. Literacy campaigns and the development of formal education systems were key strategies in shaping these subjectivities and identities, a social process that continues to have enormous material, affective, behavioral, and epistemological ramifications, even long after the eclipse of the authoritarian governments themselves. To contribute more to the understanding about how these massive social projects coerced and persuaded nonurban, pastoral, and semi-nomadic populations, this article explores the 1950s and 1960s Cultural Campaigns in the socialist Mongolian People's Republic (1924–90), which emphasized hygiene, health, literacy, and ideology. Oral history accounts document how the socialist Mongolian state infiltrated the private spaces of Mongolians and shaped their attitudes toward reading and writing and other desirable social goals. Additionally, these accounts suggest ways that pastoral Mongolians subtly resisted and challenged the authority of the socialist Mongolian state.



Mongolia, Cultural campaign, literacy campaigns, Technologies of power, Authority