Subject: ACMS in March: Lecture on "Legacy of Iron-Age steppe design in the Mongol Empire" and Panel on "Twentieth-Century Mongolia"

ACMS Virtual Speaker Series events on March 19 and 23, 2021
Zoomorphism as elitism: The legacy of Iron-Age steppe design in the Mongol empire
March 19, Friday, 9:00 p.m. (ULAT)
March 19, Friday, 1:00 p.m. (GMT)
March 19, Friday, 9:00 a.m. (EDT)
Interested participants are asked to join in on March 19, 9 pm (ULAT) through the following Zoom link:

Numerous pastoral nomadic societies flourished along the Eurasian steppe in the Iron Age. Their shared visual rhetoric was based on highly conceptual zoomorphic designs – counterintuitive, contorted, entwined animal bodies abound in these early systems of steppe imagery, known loosely as “animal style”. This lecture addresses the revival of Iron-Age zoomorphic art and design in the Mongol empire and its successor states. Animal style has been primarily viewed as an early Iron-Age phenomenon, giving way to the assumption that such zoomorphism ceased to exist after the displacement of early nomadic alliances (e.g., Scythians, Saka, and Xiongnu). In reality, early steppe visuality had a much longer lifespan than has been previously acknowledged. The Golden Horde elite’s frequent return to the production and circulation of animal-style art in the 13th and 14th century was a politically-driven strategy through which the Mongol aristocracy shaped its image as a successor to a centuries-old steppe tradition.

Please note that this panel session will be held on Zoom, and later uploaded to the ACMS YouTube channel. Interested participants are asked to join in on March 19, 9 pm (ULAT) through the following Zoom link:

The Zoom participants will be able to ask questions during the Q&A session at the end, but we encourage you to leave your question at our website's dedicated post at or at the Facebook Event page at
About the Presenter:

Petya Andreeva is Assistant Professor of Asian Art History at Parsons School of Design at the New School. Dr. Andreeva received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Her main field of research is the artistic transmission along trade networks, namely the Silk Roads and their precursor, the Eurasian steppe route. Her current book project, entitled Fantastic Fauna: The Making of Zoomorphic Visuality on the Eurasian steppe, is based on her dissertation which received an international award from the International Convention of Asia Scholars. Andreeva’s work has appeared in Orientations, Archaeological Research in Asia, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Journal of Oriental Art History in Korea, Sino-Platonic Papers, and several edited volumes. She has completed fieldwork in Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan, and Siberia.
Panel session:
Twentieth-Century Mongolia 
Tuesday, March 23, 5:00pm PDT
Tuesday, March 23, 8:00pm EDT 
Wednesday, March 24, 8:00am ULAT
Zoom (Register here) The link will be automatically sent to your email.

The March Virtual Speaker Series panel will focus on the twentieth century Mongolia. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Marissa Smith, and have three speakers presenting on the following topics.

Science in Socialist Mongolia: An Introduction” by Dr. Morris Rossabi (Columbia University)

Abstract: While the Mongolian government and the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party mandated the principles of socialist realism (including a “positive” hero or heroine) in literature and the arts from the 1930s to 1950s, they also influenced the sciences and the status of scientists. Based on interviews conducted by Yuki Konagaya and L. Lkhagvasuren (and translated into English by Mary Rossabi), this presentation describes six scientists’ early lives, their training and education, and their reactions to twentieth-century Mongolian history. All derived from herder backgrounds, and four of the six received their graduate training in the USSR. Only the physician and the historian were educated exclusively in Mongolia. Their reminiscences are thoughtful and amusing and provide insights into the socialist impact on the sciences.

Why Revolution Did Not End: International Relations and the Mongolian Women” by Dr. Manduhai Buyandelger (MIT)

Abstract: Dispelling a dominant assumption that Mongolian women only became politically active with the advent of democratization in the 1990s, I deliver a historical analysis of how the state socialist Mongolian Women’s Committee shaped women as political subjects by instilling in them mass mobilization and advocacy skills, teaching self-development, and by normalizing women’s place in politics. Although the Mongolian Women’s Committee was an “arm” of the MPRP, the Party repeatedly demoted and de-activated the organization. Based on interviews, oral histories, and memoirs, I illustrate how each generation of the Women’s Committee leaders (i.e., Sükhbaatariyn Yanjimaa, Tserenpiliin Siilegmaa, and Sonomin Udval) were particularly creative and persistent in saving and developing the organization. Their initiated activities under the name of the MPRP had influenced not only the nation’s modernization but also its international relations.

The Soviet Hero in Post-War Mongolian Literature” by Dr. Simon Wickhamsmith (Rutgers University)

Abstract: In the years between the Great Patriotic War (1945) and the deaths of Choibalsan (1952) and Stalin (1953), Mongolia continued to forge stronger and deeper cultural and socioeconomic ties with the Soviet Union. Writers likewise worked to create characters in their work which promoted this relationship, and the first Writers Congress in 1948 emphasized the importance of learning from the Soviets, and in acknowledging their fraternal relationship with Mongolians.
This presentation will discuss three key tropes in this process of social engineering, and the texts which promoted them: Soviet hero as personal friend (in M.Biziya’s 1947 short story Beleg [The Gifts]), Soviet hero as fearless adventurer (in Ch.Lodoidamba’s 1952 short story Altaid [In the Altai]), and Soviet hero as healer (in Ch.Lodoidamba’s 1953 novella Manai surguuliinhan [My Schoolfriends]). These three figures not only helped to lend the rather abstract development of Soviet Realism a more practical and believable character, but also showed promoted ideas of scientific, medical, and military cooperation.

The Zoom participants will be able to ask questions during the Q&A session at the end, but we encourage you to leave your question at our website's dedicated post at or at the Facebook Event page at
About ACMS:
The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting scholarship in Mongolian Studies. 
The Virtual Speaker Series promotes information exchange on a variety of subjects related to Mongolia and is free and open to the public.
American Center for Mongolian Studies, 642 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th St, Philadelphia, PA 19104, United States
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