2012 — Ghosts, strangers, reciprocity


A Russian military grave in eastern Mongolia, 2009 (©Gregory Delaplace)

Parasitic Chinese, Vengeful Russians. Ghosts, Strangers and Reciprocity in Mongolia

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 18/s1, pp. s131‐s144.

Special issue: The return to hospitality: strangers, guests, and ambiguous encounters. Edited by Matei Candea and Giovanni Da Col.

DOI: 10.1111/j.1467–9655.2012.01768.x


This paper considers stories of haunting by ghosts of a foreign origin that have been circulating lately in the capital city of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar. These narratives, it is argued, depict Chinese and Russian people as very different kinds of strangers, defined by contrastive regimes of relationship with their host. Contrary to Russians, who are still remembered – rightly or not – as great providers, Chinese people are pictured in these stories as some kind of parasites, who constantly take from Mongolian land and never give anything in return.