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The Lama QuestionViolence, Sovereignty, and Exception in Early Socialist Mongolia$
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Christopher Kaplonski

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838560

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838560.001.0001

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The Geopolitics of Exception

The Geopolitics of Exception

(p.45) Chapter 2 The Geopolitics of Exception
The Lama Question

Christopher Kaplonski

University of Hawai'i Press

Trapped between its two big neighbors—China and Russia/the Soviet Union—Mongolia has long sought to avoid domination by one or the other. However, to rely exclusively on geopolitics as an explanation for the lama question leads to simplistic interpretations. Such an approach denies the complexities of what was taking place in Mongolia, and blinds us to the extent to which the lama question was deeply felt and thought about by Mongolians. This chapter examines why, although it is important not to ignore the larger context, we must not privilege it excessively in our explanatory models. Doing so has not only masked the role of Mongolians themselves and the ways in which the lama question was acted upon and reacted to at all levels of society, but it also overlooks the ways in which the Mongolian case offers us new insights about political violence and the state.

Keywords:   political violence, state of exception, Mongolia, political anthropology, Buddhism, socialism

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