Accepted Paper:

Placing absence: gendered work and the spatialisation of Mongolian pastoralist households  

Author:

Ariell Ahearn Ligham (Oxford University)

Paper short abstract:

This article asks the questions: How do Mongolian pastoralist experiences enhance our understanding of the phenomenon of absence, the circumstances under which it is detected, and when it becomes meaningful for certain groups?

Paper long abstract:

Recent scholarship in geography has productively engaged with the concepts of absence to analyse spatialised social relations and their embodied, material and immaterial dimensions. This literature has largely focused on individual experiences of absence. I approach absence by examining experiences of the gendered nature of household absence amongst mobile pastoralists in rural Mongolia. In critical reflections on rural work, both male and female herders have stressed concerns around the absence of women in rural homes. Absence, however, has long been part of pastoralist livelihoods in Mongolia and different types of absence seem to register at different levels of "visibility." This article asks the questions: How do Mongolian pastoralist experiences enhance our understanding of the phenomenon of absence, the circumstances under which it is detected, and when it becomes meaningful for certain groups? In Mongolia, absence has different implications for men and women and gendered division of labour and social roles, which are tied to household economies and pastoralist work practices. Drawing from ethnographic field research, the cases contribute to understandings of the co-constitutive nature of space and society, and attempt to dislodge ideas about the fixed nature of households in rural Mongolia.

Panel LL-NAS02
Cultures of mobility in Inner Asia