Pastoral Dairying in Rural Mongolia

Microbes as Heritage


  • Björn Reichhardt Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History/Humboldt-University of Berlin



Dairy, Pastoralism, Mongolia, Starter Cultures, Microbes, Heritage


In this photo essay, I illustrate ethnographic encounters with dairying practices and dairy microbes in various regions of Mongolia. Drawing on fieldwork conducted during two consecutive summers, this essay focuses on the sociocultural role of microbial starter cultures in producing diverse dairy products (such as fermented mare’s milk) and in cross-generational knowledge transfer. The Mongolian word for starter culture is khöröngö, which also means capital and heritage. In this context, a sociocultural anthropological approach sheds new light on starter cultures as mobile entities of value across space and time.

Author Biography

Björn Reichhardt, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History/Humboldt-University of Berlin

1. Doctoral Researcher, Department of Archaeogenetics, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

2. PhD Student, Central Asian Seminar, Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt-University of Berlin


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How to Cite

Reichhardt, B. . (2022). Pastoral Dairying in Rural Mongolia: Microbes as Heritage. Archaeology of Food and Foodways, 1(1), 85–102.