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The project -- Aims and history


'The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia' is a project that examines the ways in which people have responded to and remember Mongolia's turbulent twentieth century. This has seen the destruction of public Buddhism, the installation of Soviet-style socialism, increased urbanization, and finally, the collapse of state socialism. By collecting oral accounts from hundreds of Mongolians of all ages and backgrounds, we seek document the ways in which people's made sense of, reacted to, and even tried to control these changes.


The project grew out of two aims.


1) We set out to create a cultural heritage resource that will be of use and interest to the Mongolian public as well as interested publics and scholars throughout the world. Much of what is recounted in these interviews has not made its way into the history books, and we present this project in part as a way to document the lived experiences of life in Mongolia in the twentieth century.


2) Secondly, to understand better the interaction between memory, narrative and situatedness (ie, people's social, political and cultural contexts). We hope that the scope of the project and the flexibility of database will allow users to examine these relationships in a way that has not been possible before. To that end, we have collected a wide range of background data (metadata) not only on the people interviewed, but also the interviewers and the social setting of the interview itself.


To this end, we have collected 600 interviews with men and women from a wide range of backgrounds, from across Mongolia. The oldest was born in 1911, the youngest in 1978. Some have PhDs, some have almost no education.