by Hedwig Amelia Waters
University College London, 2023
Cloth: 978-1-78735-815-7 | Paper: 978-1-78735-814-0

A nuanced exploration of the effects of the transition to market democracy in Mongolia’s remotest areas.
In the early 1990s, Mongolia began a transition from socialism to a market democracy. In the process, the country became more than ever dependent on international mining revenue. Nearly thirty years later, many of Mongolia’s poor and rural feel that, rather than share in the prosperity the transition was supposed to spread, they have been forgotten.
Moral Economic Transitions in the Mongolian Borderlands analyzes this period of change from the viewpoint of the rural township of Magtaal on the Chinese border. After the end of socialism, the population of this resource-rich area found itself without employment or state institutions yet surrounded by lush nature and mere kilometers from the voracious Chinese market. A two-tiered resource-extractive political-economic system developed. At the same time as large-scale, formal, legally sanctioned conglomerates arrived to extract oil and other resources, local residents grew increasingly dependent on the Chinese-funded informal, illegal cross-border wildlife trade. More than a story about rampant capitalist extraction in the resource frontier, this book intimately details the complex inner worlds, moral ambiguities, and emergent collective politics constructed by individuals who feel caught in political-economic shifts that are largely outside of their control.