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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Planning for Nomads at the Urban Periphery: Paradox or Possibility?


Urban planners and aid-donating institutions cherish and seek to preserve the nomadic national identity of Mongolia. These outsiders romanticize nomads as representing a simpler, freer pastoral existence unencumbered by the excessive materialism of modernity. By contrast, the Mongolian government abhors and seeks to end the same nomadic national identity on the grounds that it is materially impoverished and perpetuates a "culture of poverty" (Lewis 1966). Both these divergent perspectives frustrate planning by focusing on extremes rather than the real process of nomadic transition.

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