August 7, 2006
Written by C.N.
Among many Asian Americans and students of Asian history, few names command more reverence and respect than Genghis Khan. History shows that he and his Mongols established one of the largest empires in world history, conquered pretty much all of Asia and were poised to overrun Europe as well. As Mongolia prepares to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the start of his empire, issues concerning how to best celebrate his legacy have moved to the forefront:
Images of a steely-eyed Genghis Khan are ubiquitous in the capital of Ulan Bator — with the national icon commanding his citizens and foreign tourists to buy a myriad of products that are named after him. The 13th century emperor was famously fond of alcoholic, fermented mare’s milk, so it is perhaps fitting that he is being used to endorse at least four different brands of vodka, while a beer is also named after him.
The Mongols’ extraordinary stamina as they roamed across the world conquering cities and civilizations has not been lost on the modern-day makers of a local energy drink, with that man once again on the label. Across the city, it seems everyone is out to make a buck from Genghis Khan, with antique shops, hotels and restaurants named after him and his image appearing on products as diverse as postage stamps and matchstick boxes. . . .
However with Mongolians revering Genghis Khan as a near God-like figure, there is growing disquiet about the exploitation of his name. “Everything is named after Genghis Khan. It’s too much,” the president of Ulan Bator’s Chinggis Khaan University, Kh. Lkhagvasuren, told AFP. “There needs to be significant things done to remember him and learn about him. But people are only interested in making a business out of him… it doesn’t respect his reputation.”
Apparently, Mongolia is experiencing one of the “trademark” (no pun intended) issues associated with capitalism and consumerism: how do you best use a historical legacy to promote a product without diluting and cheapening its historical meaning and impact? It seems that wherever capitalism goes, history gets rewritten and cultures are fundamentally transformed.
Welcome to 21st century globalization, Mongolia.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Marketing Genghis Khan in Mongolia" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/08/marketing-genghis-khan-in-mongolia/> ().
Short URL: http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/?p=283