Seminar – 17 October – Bumochir Dulam

September 19th, 2017 by


Tuesday 17  October 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Bumochir Dulam

University College London

The Power of a Master: Respect among Mongols in Rural China

This paper attempts to understand the Mongolian concept of ezen (master or host) by observing how his power works. Unlike the conventional understanding of political power that oppresses and encounters resistance, power of a master is primarily based on respect. The paper uses the term ‘respect’ as a socially constructed attitude that exalts the other, or his characteristics, achievements, skills, acts etc. Going beyond considerations of respect, the paper also argues that by exalting, some cases of respect produces the power of a master. Respect as the main mechanism for masters to maintain power helps us understand the nature of a master. Moreover, this paper shows how this kind of power of a master extends beyond the term master, and how village cadres employ the power of a master to win in the village grassroots election in Qinghai, China.  Although cadres are not called ezen or a master they practice the power of a master based on respect. The ethnography explores the village grassroots election and shows how the local, informal, traditional mechanisms of power, not necessarily contradicts, but amalgamates the formal government power through locally elected village cadres.

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