Country Listing

Mongolia Table of Contents


Science, Progress, and Tradition

By the end of the twentieth century, Mongolia's achievements in economic development and popular education will have produced deep, and probably irreversible, changes in the structure of society. After several decades of devotion to increasing the indices of economic growth and brooking no disagreement with its policies or methods, the ruling Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party, responding in part to trends toward political reform in the Soviet Union, was encouraging greater public discussion and criticism of past practices. Mongolian leaders seemed ready to step back and to consider the price of progress and to discuss the future course of the country's development. As indicated by the 1989 moves to reevaluate the prerevolutionary past and its heroes, the reconciliation of progress with tradition and national identity is likely to be a major theme of discussion in the 1990s.

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Mongolia's contemporary society, unlike its history, has not attracted much scholarly attention in the West. The best sources available to the English-speaking reader are Mongolia, The People's Republic of Mongolia, and articles in the Far Eastern Economic Review, all by Alan J. Sanders; Robert Rupen's Mongols of the Twentieth Century and How Mongolia Is Really Ruled; George G.S. Murphy's Soviet Mongolia; and Urgunge Onon's Mongolian Heroes of the Twentieth Century. History of the Mongolian People's Republic, translated by William A. Brown and Urgunge Onon, has useful sections on society and the environment. Articles by Daniel Rosenberg in Mongolian Studies provide relevant material on modern Mongolian society. Owen Lattimore's Nomads and Commissars is somewhat out of date, but very readable and useful. A helpful, and more recent, source is Thomas D. Allen's article in National Geographic. The traditional culture is set out in Sechin Jagchid and Paul Hyer's Mongolia's Culture and Society, Lattimore's Mongol Journeys, and Herbert H. Vreeland's Mongol Community and Kinship Structure. The U.S. Joint Publications Research Service publishes occasional translations of Mongolian and Russian statistical summaries and yearbooks on Mongolia. Mongolian broadcasts and newspapers are translated and appear in the U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service Daily Report: East Asia. Readers also are directed to the American Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies, the Bibliography of Asian Studies, and Citation Index for new publications on Mongolian society. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of June 1989