Published in November 2014 by the University Of Hawai’i Press, “The Lama Question: Violence, Sovereignty, and Exception in Early Socialist Mongolia” by Christopher Kaplonski looks at Mongolia’s new socialist government in 1921 and how they would combat the influence of the dominant Buddhist establishment to win the hearts and minds of the Mongolian people.
From the University Of Hawai’i Press website:
Unlike most studies that explore violence as the primary means by which states deal with their opponents, The Lama Question argues that the decision to resort to violence in Mongolia was not a quick one; neither was it a long-term strategy nor an out-of control escalation of orders but the outcome of a complex series of events and attempts by the government to be viewed as legitimate by the population. Kaplonski draws on a decade of research and archival resources to investigate the problematic relationships between religion and politics and geopolitics and biopolitics in early socialist Mongolia, as well as the multitude of state actions that preceded state brutality. By examining the incidents and transformations that resulted in violence and by viewing violence as a process rather than an event, his work not only challenges existing theories of political violence, but also offers another approach to the anthropology of the state. In particular, it presents an alternative model to philosopher Georgio Agamben’s theory of sovereignty and the state of exception.
The Lama Question will be of interest to scholars and students of violence, the state, biopolitics, Buddhism, and socialism, as well as to those interested in the history of Mongolia and Asia in general.
Christopher Kaplonski is senior research associate and affiliated lecturer in the Mongolia & Inner Asia Studies Unit/Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge.
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