A Thousand Steps to Parliament: Constructing Electable Women in Mongolia
by Manduhai Buyandelger
University of Chicago Press
Paper: 978-0-226-81874-0 | Cloth: 978-0-226-81872-6 | eISBN: 978-0-226-81873-3

ABOUT THIS BOOK | AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY
ABOUT THIS BOOK
A Thousand Steps to Parliament traces how the complicated, contradictory paths to political representation that women in Mongolia must walk mirror those the world over.
 
Mongolia has often been deemed an “island of democracy,” commended for its rapid adoption of free democratic elections in the wake of totalitarian socialism. The democratizing era, however, brought alongside it a phenomenon that Manduhai Buyandelger terms “electionization”—a restructuring of elections from time-grounded events into a continuous, neoliberal force that governs everyday life beyond the electoral period. In A Thousand Steps to Parliament, she shows how campaigns in Mongolia have come to substitute for the functions of governing, from social welfare to the private sector. Such long-term, high-investment campaigns depend on an accumulation of wealth and power beyond the reach of most women candidates. Given their limited financial means and outsider status, successful women candidates instead use strategies of self-polishing to cultivate charisma and a reputation for being oyunlag, or intellectful. This carefully and intentionally crafted identity can be called the “electable self”: treating their bodies and minds as pliable and renewable, women candidates draw from the same practices of neoliberalism that have unsustainably commercialized elections. A Thousand Steps to Parliament traces how the complicated, contradictory paths to representation that women in Mongolia must walk mirror those the world over, revealing an urgent need to grapple with the encroaching effects of neoliberalism in democracies globally.
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