Home Institution

Connecticut College

Publication Date

Spring 2017

Program Name

Mongolia: Nomadism, Geopolitics, and the Environment


During the socialist period Mongolia’s nomadic herders were grouped into collective herding units called negdels. Today, over twenty years after Mongolia transitioned to democracy, herding has been privatized completely and negdels are a distant memory. This study explores the history of negdels by conducting twenty-five oral interviews with herders about their memories of collective herding. This study focuses on a soum in the Mongolian countryside, Bayandelger, while also incorporating interviews with people from Ulaanbaatar. Bayandelger is a unique location for this project because it was selected by the Soviets to receive assistance in an effort to make it a model of a successful negdel. The study’s findings show that many of the participants, particularly those who were part of the Bayandelger negdel, remember the socialist time fondly and express significant nostalgia for their days in the negdel. Building on work about postsocialist nostalgia in other countries, broader conclusions can be drawn about the nostalgia expressed by participants in this study. Nostalgia is a remembrance of the past but it is also a reflection on the present, so interviewees’ memories are examined as a commentary on their attitudes towards Mongolia’s current economic and political situation.


Asian Studies | Family, Life Course, and Society | Place and Environment | Politics and Social Change | Psychology | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Sociology of Culture | Work, Economy and Organizations


Article Location