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Music, Morality and the Creation of Value in Mongolia

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Among the Altai Urianghai people in a rural district of western Mongolia’s Hovd province, musical knowledge, practice and performance are means through which people engage with overlapping historical influences, create and maintain different cultural traditions and attempt to ensure good future outcomes. This talk will explore how musical knowledge is an important, highly valued resource, leading to performers being highly venerated. Musical performance becomes an ethical practice, one that is collectively shared although key custodians hold individual responsibilities. In this talk, I will ask how understandings of value can move beyond economics to encompass shared cultural resources of other kinds, along with their esoteric potential. I will also explore how the moral musical practice of Altai Urianghai performers engages with national discussions and delineations of contemporary Mongolian culture.


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