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Pastoralists in Mongolia's Mining Economy: Negotiating Indigenous Identity in a New Political Space
With two of the world’s largest mining projects, Mongolia has become one of Asia’s key mineral producers in the past twenty years. Mongolian pastoralist communities living the South Gobi in the vicinity of large-scale mining operations have recently turned to transnational dispute resolution arenas to lodge their grievances and seek redress. Notably, these groups of pastoralists have sought to trigger international grievance mechanisms on the basis of being indigenous people, even though they are not recognized as such by their own government. This paper situates this contemporary mobilization of pastoralist communities in relation to large-scale mining projects within a longer history of state (de)regulation of the pastoralist economy. It reflects on the role of non-state legal norms and mechanisms in introducing new forms of legal and political subjectivity into the milieu of discourses surrounding Mongolian pastoralist identity and livelihoods. The paper reflects on the potential implications of extractive economy upon transnational identity formation, local/national political space and strategic negotiations with state and corporate power.