Place Names and Kazakh Song Making in the Western Mongolian Steppes
- 32 Downloads
This study focuses on Mongolian Kazakh place names in Kazakh language used by herders in rural Bayan Ölgii, Mongolia, to mark sites that have social, historical, and political significance for individuals and local communities of pastoralists. Their songs reference and describe lands where Kazakh people have lived and traveled. As they map their movement, they share information about social and ecological values and emotional attachment to the land. The herders reject some national Mongolian language names and have established their own Kazakh names for places they frequent. Using song genres and performance styles passed down in close-knit communities, their songs reflect not only their rootedness in place, but also the significance of mobility. They also mobilize their communities to act in support of the land in the face of change and claim space for their pastoralist activities. The frequent references to specific places by Kazakh name, using the two-string dombyra and older highly respected Kazakh song genres are part of an ongoing effort to maintain a local language and a way of life and to claim land that during the last 25 years has been entangled in social and political processes of change.
KeywordsKazakh language Ethnomusicology Place names Mongolia Mobile pastoralism
Research support was provided by the Center for Middle East Studies, University of Arizona, US-Mongolia Field Research Fellowship Program, sponsored by the American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS), the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC), and the US Department of Education; the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Academic Outreach and Ada Howe Kent Fellowships at Middlebury College; and travel support from the Musical Instrument Museum, Phoenix, and the School of Music, University of Western Australia.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
- Berg, L. D., & Vuolteenaho, J. (2009). Critical Toponymies: The contested politics of place naming. Farnham: Ashgate.Google Scholar
- Chuluun, T., Altanbagana, M., Ojima, D., Tsolmon, R., & Suvdantsetseg, B. (2017). Vulnerability of pastoral social-ecological systems in Mongolia. In W. Yan & W. Galloway (Eds.), Rethinking resilience, adaptation and transformation in a time of change (pp. 73–88). Cham: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Feld, S. (1996). Waterfalls of song: An acoustemology of place resounding in Bosavi, Papua New Guinea. In S. Feld & K. H. Basso (Eds.), Senses of place (pp. 91–135). Santa Fe: SAR Press.Google Scholar
- Feld, S. (2007). Sound worlds. In P. Kruth & H. Stobart (Eds.), Sound (pp. 173–200). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Feld, S. (2012). Sound and sentiment: Birds, weeping, poetics, and song in Kaluli expression (3rd ed.). Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
- Finke, P. (1999). The Kazaks of Western Mongolia. In I. Svanverg (Ed.), Contemporary Kazakhs: Cultural and social perspectives (pp. 103–139). New York: St. Martins Press.Google Scholar
- Ingold, T. (2000). The perception of the environment: Essays on livelihood, dwelling and skill. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Jacobson-Tepfer, E., & Meacham, J. E. (2012). Place names in the Mongolian Altai: Cultural shifts and sensibilities. Historical Geography, 40, 111–131.Google Scholar
- Kunanbaeva, A. (2002). Kazakh music. In V. Danielson, S. Marcus, & D. Reynolds (Eds.), The Garland encyclopedia of world music: The Middle East (pp. 949–964). New York/London: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Montgomery, D. W. (2007). Namaz, wishing trees, and vodka: The diversity of everyday religious life in Central Asia. In J. Sahadeo & R. G. Zanca (Eds.), Everyday life in Central Asia: Past and present (pp. 355–370). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Post, J. C. (2017). Ecological knowledge: Collaborative management and musical production in western Mongolia. In J. C. Post (Ed.), Ethnomusicology: A contemporary reader (Vol. II, pp. 161–179). New York: Routledge Press.Google Scholar
- Reichl, K. (2000). The oral epic: Performance and music. intercultural music studies (p. 12). Berlin: VWB Verlag für Wissenschaft und Bildung.Google Scholar
- Rose-Redwood, R. (2016). “Reclaim, rename, reoccupy”: Decolonizing place and the reclaiming of PKOLS. ACME: An International E-Journal for Critical Geographies, 15(1), 187–206.Google Scholar