Join us for this Institute of Asian Research event on the state of ethics in Mongolia, with special guest Jade Richards, a PhD student from the School of Anthropology at the University of Kent, UK. With welcome remarks by SPPGA Professor Julian Dierkes.
In Mongolia, a fundamental breakdown of trust between politicians and electorates has recently given rise to a widespread sense of disaffection among ordinary citizens. Many people feel that the political landscape proposed by democratization has begun to run counter to their sense of moral order in particularly stark ways. As a result, they reject certain dimensions of democracy, such as freedom, that fail to live up to their material and ethical expectations. For teachers of moral and civic education, this has presented a unique challenge.
Anchored in insights from Jane Richards’ evolving research on Lifelong Education in Ulaanbaatar, this talk explores the question of why democratic freedom has become the object of so much contention, and the attempts of moral and civic education teachers to rethink the meaning of freedom and the practice of civic virtue in their classrooms. She pays particular attention to the ethical factors that structure their view of how best to relate to themselves and others, as well as to values, objects and institutions. This involves thinking about people’s own criteria for evaluating democracy on a more ethical scale than is usual in political analysis. Crucially, she uses civic education as the grounds from which to better understand how larger shifts are understood by ordinary citizens and subsequently refashioned into critiques and new political forms on the ground. This not only reflects emerging political sensibilities as they are locally constructed through what is considered ethically correct, but also as a product of and reaction to the current unethical perception of politicians.
Bio: Jade is a final year PhD student from the School of Anthropology at the University of Kent, UK. This talk is part of her larger thesis project titled ‘Creative Citizenship: Ethics, Expectation and Lifelong Education in Ulaanbaatar’. Based on 18 months of fieldwork at Mongolia’s largest Non-formal and Lifelong Education Centre, her research explores the diverse array of classes designed to equip unemployed adults with the ‘traditional’ knowledge, practical skills and ethical dispositions considered necessary to meet the rapidly changing demands of everyday urban life. Jade is currently at UBC as a visiting international research student working along Dr. Julian Dierkes to write about the relationship between ethical self-cultivation and democracy in contemporary Ulaanbaatar.
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