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Authenticity and Adaptation: The Mongol Ger as a Contemporary Heritage Paradox

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JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
DateAccepted/In press - 27 Dec 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jan 2017
DatePublished (current) - 2017
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)347-361
Early online date8/01/17
Original languageEnglish


The Mongol Ger is a transportable felt tent deriving from an ancient nomadic civilization. The structure encapsulates a specific Mongolian nomadic cultural identity by encompassing a way of life based upon pastoral migration, complex familial relationships and hierarchies, and spiritual beliefs. As Mongolia has rapidly urbanised over the past century, the form and function of the ger have changed, with some of the integral facets of the structure lost with a view to commercialising and/or adapting a nomadic symbol for modern consumption. This paper will explore the ger as a vernacular and globally recognised form, assessing whether its nomination by the Mongolian State Party on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity as a craft-skill is either sufficient or indeed appropriate. It will further be argued that to understand the ger in its totality requires an understanding also of the concept of authenticity to disentangle variations between the ‘livingness’ of the ger and its appropriation for a wider audience.

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