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Making Disasters

Climate Change, Neoliberal Governance, and Livelihood Insecurity on the Mongolian Steppe

Craig R. Janes and Oyuntsetseg Chuluundorj

Although extreme winter events have always threatened herders on the Central Asian steppe, the frequency and severity of these disasters have increased since Mongolia’s transition from a socialist Soviet satellite state to a free-market economy. This book describes the significant challenges caused by the retreat of the state from the rural economy and its consequences not only for rural herders, but for the country as a whole. The authors analyze a broad range of phenomena that are fundamentally linked to the adverse social and economic consequences of climate change, including urbanization and urban poverty, access to essential health care and education, changes to gender roles (especially for women), rural economic development and resource extraction, and public health more generally. They argue that the intersection of neoliberal economics and the ideologies that sustain it with climate change and its attendant hazards has created a perfect storm that has had and, without serious attention to rural development, will continue to have disastrous consequences for Mongolia.

2015. 216 pp., figures, tables, glossary, notes, references, index, 7 x 10

Contributors: Oyuntsetseg Chuluundorj, Craig Janes

“There is immeasurable value in this book both in terms of the findings and of methodology. . . . Large scale surveys and quantitative data, as this book demonstrates, in the right hands (such as these) can tell powerful stories and their conclusions cannot so easily be dismissed. . . . This book is an excellent starting point. As such, it is required reading for any scholar whose research explores the past, present, or future of pastoralism in Mongolia.”
—Daniel J. Murphy, University of Cincinnati, Nomadic Peoples 21, no. 1 (2017)


Making Disasters provides a much-needed comprehensive analysis of the interplay of long-practiced subsistence lifeways, in this case agropastoralism, with drivers of contemporary change. . . . Janes and Chuluundorj’s book is vital because it provides a much-needed systematic analysis of . . . the interacting drivers of climate, globalization, and demography. . . . This is a critically important contribution.”
—Susan A. Crate, George Mason University, Journal of Anthropological Research


List of Figures
List of Tables
List of Acronyms

  1. Introduction
  2. What Makes a Climate Disaster?
  3. Herders and the State
  4. Rural Livelihoods in the Post-Transition Period
  5. Sociality, Governance, and Vulnerability
  6. “Minegolia”
  7. Health and Well-Being
  8. Conclusion

Glossary of Mongolian Terms

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.