Nomads are positioned outside of the modern conception of nations, which is based on a traditional or modern hierarchical model (Kuzio, 2001) which tends to “dehistoricize and essentialize tradition” (Chatterjee, 2010: 169). Using an analysis of the narrative construction of nomadic Kalmyk nationhood, particularly through historiography and culture, this article demonstrates that in spite of nation-destroying efforts from the Tsarist Empire and the Soviet Union, the Kalmyk nation has been flexible with reinventing cultural strategies in charting the nomadic national imaginary from Chinggis Khan to the Dalai Lama. It argues that nomadic nationhood contains a deeply imaginary response to nomads’ cultural and intellectual milieu which provided a way of freeing itself from Tsarist and Soviet modular narratives of national imagination, demonstrating how nomadic nationhood exists as a non-modular form of nationhood.

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