Manduhai Buyandelger. A Thousand Steps to Parliament. Constructing Electable Women in Mongolia.
«A Thousand Steps to Parliament traces how the complicated, contradictory paths to political representation that women in Mongolia must walk mirror those the world over.
Mongolia has often been deemed an “island of democracy,” commended for its rapid adoption of free democratic elections in the wake of totalitarian socialism. The democratizing era, however, brought alongside it a phenomenon that Manduhai Buyandelger terms “electionization”—a restructuring of elections from time-grounded events into a continuous neoliberal force that governs everyday life beyond the electoral period. In this way, electoral campaigns have come to substitute for the functions of governing, from social welfare to the private sector, requiring an accumulation of wealth and power beyond the reach of most women candidates. In A Thousand Steps to Parliament, Buyandelger shows how successful women candidates instead use strategies of self-polishing to cultivate charisma and a reputation for being oyunlag, or intellectful. This carefully crafted identity can be called the “electable self”: treating their bodies and minds as pliable and renewable, women candidates draw from the same practices of neoliberalism that have unsustainably commercialized elections. By tracing the complicated, contradictory paths to representation that women in Mongolia must walk, A Thousand Steps to Parliament holds a mirror up to democracies the world over, revealing an urgent need to grapple with the encroaching effects of neoliberalism in our global political systems.»