A Concern for the Invisible: Dwelling with Sensitive Horses and Vanishing Graves in Mongolia


  • Gregory Delaplace École Pratique des Hautes Études


Mongolia, Dörvöd, ghosts, spirits, horses, graves, dwelling


Dwelling well, for the Dörvöd herders with whom I have interacted over the years, involves getting a few things right about the invisible. On the one hand, they need to navigate spaces that are teeming with ‘things’ that not everybody can see plainly, and which are best left undisturbed. On the other hand, behaving properly towards spiritual ‘land masters’ that constitute the places through which herders circulate involves them conforming to a certain regime of marking, i.e. a geography that implicitly values discretion and disappearance. Considering two apparatuses with which the invisible is either taken care of or produced – saddled horses and gravesites –, this paper explores a concern, and a talent, that people in Mongolia exhibit for things that exist by virtue of (dis)appearing.


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