Subject: This Month in Mongolian Studies - January 2016

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January 2016
In this Issue:

ACMS Announcements

ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events
New Books Acquired for the ACMS Library

Calls for Papers, Conferences, and Workshops

Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants

Other News and Events

Recent Publications

"This Month in Mongolian Studies" is a monthly listing of selected academic activities and resources related to Mongolia. This list is based on information the ACMS has received and is presented as a service to its members. If you would like to submit information to be included in next month's issue please contact the ACMS at and/or the editor, Marissa Smith, at

This publication is supported in part by memberships.  Please consider becoming a member of the ACMS, or renewing your membership by visiting our website at  Thank you!
ACMS Announcements
Deadline approaching for 2016 ACMS fellowship programs!
Faculty, students, and institutional affiliates: please be aware that our deadline is approaching for this year's ACMS fellowship offerings. Applications for the Field Research fellowships, Library fellowship, and Cultural Heritage fellowships are due February 15th, 2016. For more details on all ACMS fellowship offerings, see the fellowships page at the ACMS website.

Mentors and advisers to students working on Mongolia: please encourage students to apply!

Save the date: ACMS Annual Meeting, Poster Session, and Reception in Seattle, Friday, April 1st, 2016
Please join us for our Annual Meeting, coming up on Friday, April 1st, 2016! This year's meeting will be in Seattle, in conjunction with the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) annual meeting at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel (1400 6th Avenue, Seattle). As usual, a reception, cultural program, and poster session will be held after the membership meeting, and are free and open to public and all interested parties. Registration to AAS is not required for this ACMS event. We also have a call for posters and displays at this time (see "calls" below). Our event will be at 7:30pm, Friday, April 1st, in the Willow A Ballroom, Sheraton Seattle Hotel. Hope to see you there!

This reception will be co-sponsored by the Mongolia Studies program at Western Washington University
ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events
Speaker Series:

Narantsogt Baatarkhuu, "Stocky: How Mongols Have Been Described in the American Pop Culture"
Tuesday, January 12th, 5:30 PM, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

From the speaker: "Since the 1990's, Hollywood films and Western literature have been seeing a great consumption in, among other countries, Mongolia. And it has been quite an experience for this speaker to find the words Mongol or Genghis or Kublai or Ulaan Bator referenced in works of international art with certain connotations. This presentation lists and analyzes Mongolia-related references in films, books and songs in the U.S.--and to a certain extent--Western pop culture. Some references include: Citizen Kane and Conan the Barbarian in films; Robert Heinlein, Herman Melville, and Stephen King in books; and Eminem and Kanye West in music."
Narantsogt Baatarkhuu
lives in Mongolia and writes in English. He's been published in and The UB Post and iToim. He writes at SoWhyMongolia, an online magazine about Mongolian culture, explained with humor.

Co-Sponsored by the American Cultural and Information Center, Ulaanbaatar

Aubrey Menard, "Mongolia's Extractive Sector Governance in Comparative Perspective"
Tuesday, January 26th, 5:30 PM, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

Mining and corruption are frequently discussed topics in Mongolia, but how do the rules and politics governing Mongolia's extractive sector compare to other countries internationally?  And, what historical factors have led to these differences?  Ms. Menard will discuss how Mongolia's post-Soviet transition contributed to the political and economic climate of Mongolia's extractive sector today, and what it means for the country's future.
Aubrey Menard
is a Luce Scholar and Policy Advisor to the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  She received her Bachelor's degree from Smith College and her MPhil from the University of Oxford.

Co-Sponsored by the American Cultural and Information Center, Ulaanbaatar
New Books Acquired for the ACMS Library
  • Janes, Craig and Oyuntsetseg Chuluundorj. Making Disasters: Climate Change, Neoliberal Governance, and Livelihood Insecurity on the Mongolian Steppe (October 2015, School for Advanced Research Press).
  • Rees, Lucy M. Mongolian Film Music: Tradition, Revolution and Propaganda (November 2015 Ashgate Publishing).
Calls for Papers, Conferences, and Workshops

Call for papers: 10th Annual Mongolian Studies Conference May 13-15th, 2016, at the Embassy of Mongolia, Washington, D.C., Co-hosted by the Mongolian Cultural Center and the Embassy of Mongolia.The Mongolian Cultural Center is calling for papers for the 10th Annual Mongolian Studies Conference. Research topics must be relevant to all Mongolian Studies subjects such as Mongolian language, history, religion, arts, literature, anthropology and other subjects that contain Mongolian social, economic, and cultural issues. The papers must be the original work of the author(s) and can be written and presented in either Mongolian or English. However, presenters, who are planning on presenting in Mongolian, must submit full English translations of papers at least one month prior to the conference. Submission deadline for paper abstracts is February 1, 2016. Abstracts must not exceed 500 words. Please send your abstracts to If your paper is accepted you will have 15 minutes for presenting and 5 more minutes for discussion. Postal address for Mongolian Cultural Center is 1948 Hileman Road, Falls Church, VA 22043, Tel: 202-531-3716

Call for Applications: NEH Summer Institute, “Modern Mongolia: Heritage and Tradition Amid Changing Realities” is a four-week workshop (June 6-July 1, 2016) designed to provide 25 undergraduate university and college educators with resources needed to be able to expand curricular offerings in East, Inner, or Central Asian Studies. The question of how Modern Mongolia is navigating its place in the world will be explored through the humanities; art, literature, music, and dance provide useful lenses to view how cultures in Mongolia are changing and still yearning for the past. The Institute will engage educators with stimulating presentations, materials, and discussions, and provide them with necessary tools to build draft course modules tailored to their institutional and individual teaching circumstances. Ultimately, we strive to provide context to enable teaching about a changing Mongolia. The Co-Directors are David Dettmann, US Director of the ACMS, and Academic Lead Morris Rossabi, Distinguished Professor of History, City University of New York and Senior Research Scholar at Columbia University. Rossabi’s books include The Mongols and Global History, Modern Mongolia: From Khans to Commissars to Capitalists, and Khubilai Khan: His Life and Times. David Dettmann is an experienced professional in promoting Asian Area Studies with past positions as Director of Outreach at the Center for East Asian Studies at University of Wisconsin-Madison (from 2009-2013), and at the Center for East Asian Studies at University of Pennsylvania (interim, Spring 2014).The Summer Institute will be held at the American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) on the historic campus of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia. Now Receiving Applications: Deadline March 1, 2016 Includes: Free Tuition and a $3,300 Stipend to defray housing and transportation expenses. For questions, please contact David Dettmann via email at or by phone at (215)573-4204. For more details about the Summer Institute, visit our website at

Call for Applications: NEH Summer Institute Central Asia in World History, Ohio State University, July 10-29. Explore the history of Central Asia through a three-week Summer Institute sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities in Columbus, Ohio. Central Asia in World History will offer middle and high school teachers from all subjects an intensive experience to hear presentations by experts, interact with scholars, work with research materials, view and discuss films, and sample the traditional food and music of the region. Participants will also develop a curriculum resource and have the opportunity to consult with a master teacher about pedagogy and how Institute content articulates with current education standards. Participants will: receive a stipend of $2,700, receive a certificate for in-service credit and/or professional development hours, and have the option of enrolling for three graduate credits from The Ohio State University
Application Deadline: March 1, 2016. Contact: Institute Director: Dr. Scott Levi, Institute Coordinator, Eileen Kunkler, at

Call for Posters and Displays for the ACMS Annual Meeting, 7:30pm Friday, April 1st, 2016. The ACMS is organizing a poster session on topics related to Mongolia to be held on Friday, April 1st, 7:30-9:30pm at the Sheraton Seattle Hotel, Willow A Ballroom (in conjunction with the Association for Asian Studies (AAS) annual meeting. Posters or displays on any topic related to Mongolia, Mongolian people are welcome. All presenters are required to appear at the meeting to discuss their work. Posters and displays may be in either English or Mongolian language, and students and scholars from all countries and fields of study are invited to participate in the poster session and reception. The audience is expected to include students, scholars, and local residents from Mongolia, and members of the community interested in Mongolia. To propose a poster or display for the session, please send a brief abstract or description (no more than 250 words) to David Dettmann at on or before March 1, 2016. Posters and displays will be accepted on a rolling basis. You do not need to be registered for the AAS conference to participate, but poster presenters should be a member of the ACMS at the time of the meetings.

Call for Papers: The Mongolia Society Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington
The 2016 Annual Meeting of The Mongolia Society will (also) be held earlier in the day on Friday, April 1, 2016 on the Seattle University campus.  The exact time of the meeting and panels will be announced as plans are formalized. Please submit your abstract on Mongolian history, language, and culture no later than March 1, 2016 to the Mongolia Society office. The abstract must contain the paper title, be no more than 300 words and have contact information, including email address.  If your abstract is accepted, you will have 20 minutes to present your paper. You must be a Mongolia Society member to present a paper. To join the Society, please either contact the Society office or go to our website Please submit your abstract to Susie Drost, The Mongolia Society, Post Office Box 2552, Bloomington, Indiana  47402-2552; Telephone and Fax number:  812-855-4078.

Call for Abstracts: Writing Workshop for Early Career Researchers "Pastoralism, herding & livelihood dynamics" cosponsored by Oxford University and the Institute of Geography of the Mongolian Academy of Science, June 27-30, 2016, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. From the organizers: "We welcome abstracts for an expense-paid writing workshop. The goal is for young researchers and PhD students to strengthen and develop English academic writing skills for potential journal articles for Nomadic Peoples. Research papers should have a focus on contemporary pastoralism. All related fields are welcome, including geography, anthropology, development, governance, sociology, etc. The workshop, led by three Oxford University academics and Mongolian scholars, will be in English so fluency in written and spoken English is essential. 15 places for Mongolian and Chinese early career researchers are available.
To participate please send an abstract for a potential paper you want to work on, a 1 page CV/resume and a paragraph explaining why you want to attend. If available, a 1 page bullet-point outline of the proposed article would be helpful. Participants will receive a Certificate of Completion.
The workshop will be at Mongol Els. All workshop expenses will be covered, including food, bus and ger accommodation for the 4 day, 3 night programme. Applications due February 25, 2016. Please email or hand-deliver your material to: Troy Sternberg, Ariell Ahearn, Batbuyan Batjav.

Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants

Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO) is hiring a Program Officer, Program Manager, and Program Manager for Mongolia: Deadline: January 22, 2016.

Kiva Fellows Program
Kiva has opened the application process for their May 2016 class (KF30) of fellows, which have a unique opportunity to witness the realities of microfinance firsthand by working directly with Kiva field partners or supporting Kiva’s newest initiative (Kiva Zip), for a minimum of 16 weeks. Kiva's microfinance programs are based in several countries around the world, including Mongolia. A limited number of shorter 12-week placements may be available during the summer class for currently enrolled graduate students. The Kiva Fellowship is designed to increase Kiva's global impact, offer participants a unique insider experience into the microfinance industry, and provide a career opportunity of a lifetime. The position is volunteer-based, and all fellows receive a week of in-depth training at Kiva’s headquarters, plus ongoing access to Kiva’s network of staff and former fellows.  The application deadline for the 30th class of fellows, beginning in May 2016, is January 24, 2015. For more information, visit or contact Kiva at

ACMS Cultural Heritage Fellowship. The ACMS Cultural Heritage Research Fellowship program is now accepting applications for 2016-17. This fellowship supports academic research projects that will contribute to the documentation and preservation of the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Inner Asia, with a focus on the people and geographic area that is now in the nation of Mongolia. The  program is supported by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation ( Application deadline for this coming year will be February 15th, 2016. For more information, please visit the Cultural Heritage Fellowship page on the ACMS website.

Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) Multicountry Field Research Fellowship Program The CAORC Multi-Country Fellowship Program supports advanced regional or trans-regional research in the humanities, social sciences, or allied natural sciences for U.S. doctoral candidates and scholars who have already earned their Ph.D. Preference will be given to candidates examining comparative and/or cross-regional research. Applicants are eligible to apply as individuals or in teams. Scholars must carry out research in two or more countries outside the United States, at least one of which hosts a participating American overseas research center (like the ACMS in Mongolia, for example). Approximately nine awards of up to $10,500 each will be given. Funding is provided by the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Deadline for application is January 30, 2015. More details can be found at CAORC's website.

ACMS 2016 Field Research Fellowship Program
This program provides awards of up to $4,000 to students and/or faculty from US universities to conduct academic field research in Mongolia between May and October 2016. Student applicants can be at an advanced undergraduate, masters, or doctoral level, and all fields of study are eligible. Students graduating in the spring of 2016 are eligible to apply. Faculty applicants can be faculty members from US colleges and universities with plans to conduct short-term field research in Mongolia between May and October 2016. All applicants must be US citizens currently enrolled in or teaching at a college or university in the United States. The program priority is to support faculty from non-research intensive universities and colleges, especially faculty who are helping guide student research projects or who can show how the experience will enhance their teaching. The fellowship is supported with funding from the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through a grant by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. Application deadline: February 15, 2016.

ACMS 2016 Library Fellowship Program

This fellowship supports US advanced graduate students or faculty members in library science or related fields from US colleges and universities to conduct short-term projects and/or research in Mongolia between May and October 2016. Applicants must be US citizens. The ACMS Library Fellowship program is to help support the development of the ACMS research library through specific defined projects designed to enhance the collection content and resource availability. The Fellow will also offer training and support for local scholars and the public. Fellows will spend up to 12 weeks onsite in Mongolia at the ACMS library; prior experience working in Mongolia is not a requirement. Fellowships will be awarded to fund travel and living expenses of up to $4,000. The fellowship is supported with funding from the US Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs through a grant by the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. Application deadline: February 15, 2016.

ACMS 2016 Intensive Mongolian Language Program
The American Center for Mongolian Studies invites students and scholars to enroll in an eight week Intensive Mongolian Language Program from mid-June to early August (dates TBA), 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The purpose of this summer language program is to provide Intermediate-level students of the Mongolian language with an opportunity to enhance their communicative competence through systematic improvement of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, in an authentic environment. The Language Program Fellowship covers the cost of tuition. Application deadline March 1st, 2016.

For more information on ACMS Fellowships visit

Other News and Events
Events in the United States:

Kalmyk Diaspora Archiving Project A new cultural program has been inaugurated to assist the Kalmyk diaspora community to preserve its heritage. Responding to a request from a Kalmyk scholar in Elista, the New Jersey Folk Festival and its founder Angus K. Gillespie, have gathered a team of scholars and activists to help develop a Kalmyk Diaspora Archiving Project (KDAP). An integral part of KDAP is an exhibit featuring archival materials. The core of the exhibit will consist of 10 banners delineating subject areas such as: Women as Preservers of Kalmyk Culture, Religion, Kalmyk Tea, Literature, the Ger, From Nomadism to Urbanism, among others. Each banner will indicate the different aspects of the theme with use of images from as many examples of materials involved in the Archive Project as possible. The opening ceremonies for the exhibit, entitled From Pastoral Nomadism to Global Urbanism, are scheduled to take place on Friday, March 25, between 5:00 and 7:00 at the Douglass Library of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Further details will be made available as the opening date approaches. Inquiries should be sent to the Project Director Nikolai Burlakoff at Follow the KDAP project at its Facebook page.

Indiana University is now accepting applications for its intensive summer language programs that will run from June 6-July 29, 2016. The 2016 Indiana University Summer Language Workshop is accepting applications for intensive study of Arabic, Azerbaijani, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS), Chinese, Estonian, Hungarian, Kurdish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mongolian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Turkish, and Ukrainian. The program features 20 contact hours weekly; twice-weekly language tables; films; food tastings; student-run graduate research groups and other culturally rich extracurricular programming.  

All students pay in-state tuition, and competitive funding is available to qualified students:
  • Project GO scholarships for undergraduate students in ROTC in Arabic, Chinese, Persian, Russian, or Turkish
  • Title VIII fellowships for graduate students and area studies scholars in Azerbaijani, BCS, Estonian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mongolian, Russian, or Ukrainian
  • FLAS funding available for Arabic, Azerbaijani, BCS, Estonian, Hungarian, Kurdish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Mongolian, Persian, Russian, Turkish, and Ukrainian
4-week option available for Russian (ending on July 1)
Students earn 4-8 credits.
Priority application deadline: February 1, 2016.
See for more information and to apply.

In Canada:

Mongolia Business Forum at PDAC, Toronto, March 8, 9am-2pm
Advance registration required. As part of the 2016 annual convention of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) – the world’s largest annual international mining conference – the Mongolian Ministry of Mining, the Mongolian Embassy to Canada and the North America-Mongolia Business Council (NAMBC) are sponsoring a Mongolia Business Forum on Tuesday, March 8, 2016, 9:00 AM-2:00 PM, at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, 100 Front Street West, Toronto. Mining Minister R. Jigjid and other Mongolian officials and top private sector leaders in the mining sector will be among the speakers. Attendance is free but advance registration is required by February 26. Business Forum attendees need NOT be also registered for the PDAC convention, which runs March 6-9 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. To register, send your name, title, corporate affiliation and full contact details to not later than February 26. For more information, contact Counsellor Ulziibayar Gonchig, Embassy of Mongolia, 01+613-400-3045, or

In Mongolia:

Monthly Biobeers Talk: Biobeers is a monthly gathering of government and NGO staff, biologists,researchers,and other professionals interested in conservation. Each month, Biobeers sponsors presentations on topics relevant to Mongolian conservation, followed by an informal gathering to discuss activities and issues of interest. Biobeers is an opportunity to find out what is happening in the field of conservation in Mongolia, talk informally to other researchers and peers in your field, and share information about issues critical to the environment and people of Mongolia. Biobeers is organised by the Zoological Society of London's Steppe Forward Programme and the Wildlife Conservation Society. At Biobeers the beer is on us! Join the Yahoo! Group Mongolbioweb for announcements.

Recent Publications

Greater Tibet: An Examination of Borders, Ethnic Boundaries, and Cultural Areas edited by P. Christiaan Klieger (December 2015, Lexington Books).The concept of Greater Tibet has surfaced in the political and academic worlds in recent years. It is based in the inadequacies of other definitions of what constitutes the historical and modern worlds in which Tibetan people, ideas, and culture occupy. This collection of papers is inspired by a panel on Greater Tibet held at the XIIIth meeting of the International Association of Tibet Studies in Ulaan Baatar in 2013. Participants included leading Tibet scholars, experts in international law, and Tibetan officials. Greater Tibet is inclusive of all peoples who generally speak languages from the Tibetan branch of the Tibeto-Burman family, have a concept of mutual origination, and share some common historical narratives. It includes a wide area, including peoples from the Central Asian Republics, Pakistan, India, Nepal Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, People’s Republic of China, Mongolia, Russia, and Tibetan people in diaspora abroad. It may even include practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism who are not of Tibetan origin, and Tibetan peoples who do not practice Buddhism. Most of this area corresponds to the broad expansion of Tibetan culture and political control in the 7th–9th centuries AD, and is thus many times larger than the current Tibet Autonomous Region in China—the Tibetan “culture area.” As a conceptual framework, Greater Tibet stands in contrast to Scott’s concept of Zomia for roughly the same region, a term which defines an area of highland Asia and Southeast Asia characterized by disdain for rule from distant centers, failed state formation, anarchist, and “libertarian” individual proclivities.

Making Disasters: Climate Change, Neoliberal Governance, and Livelihood Insecurity on the Mongolian Steppe by Craig R. Janes and Oyuntsetseg Chuluundorj (October 2015, School for Advanced Research Press). Although extreme winter events have always threatened herders on the Central Asian steppe, the frequency and severity of these disasters have increased since Mongolia’s transition from a socialist Soviet satellite state to a free-market economy. This book describes the significant challenges caused by the retreat of the state from the rural economy and its consequences not only for rural herders but for the country as a whole. The authors analyze a broad range of phenomena that are fundamentally linked to the adverse social and economic consequences of climate change, including urbanization and urban poverty, access to essential health care and education, changes to gender roles (especially for women), rural economic development and resource extraction, and public health more generally. They argue that the intersection of neoliberal economics and the ideologies that sustain it with climate change and its attendant hazards has created a perfect storm that has had and, without serious attention to rural development, will continue to have disastrous consequences for Mongolia.

Mongolian Film Music: Tradition, Revolution, and Propaganda by Lucy M. Rees (November 2015, Ashgate). In 1936 the Mongolian socialist government decreed the establishment of a film industry with the principal aim of disseminating propaganda to the largely nomadic population. The government sent promising young rural Mongolian musicians to Soviet conservatoires to be trained formally as composers. On their return they utilised their traditional Mongolian musical backgrounds and the musical skills learned during their studies to compose scores to the 167 propaganda films produced by the state film studio between 1938 and 1990. Lucy M. Rees provides an overview of the rich mosaic of music genres that appeared in these film soundtracks, including symphonic music influenced by Western art music, modified forms of Mongolian traditional music, and a new genre known as 'professional music' that combined both symphonic and Mongolian traditional characteristics. Case studies of key composers and film scores are presented, demonstrating the influence of cultural policy on film music and showing how film scores complemented the ideological message of the films. There are discussions of films that celebrate the 1921 Revolution that led to Mongolia becoming a socialist nation, those that foreshadowed the 1990 Democratic Revolution that drew the socialist era to a close, and the diverse range of films and scores produced after 1990 in the aftermath of the socialist regime.

Nomads on Pilgrimage: Mongols on Wutaishan (China), 1800-1940,
by Isabelle Charleux. July 2015, Brill. This work is a social history of the Mongols’ pilgrimages to Wutaishan in late imperial and Republican times. In this period of economic crisis and rise of nationalism and anticlericalism in Mongolia and China, this great Buddhist mountain of China became a unique place of intercultural exchanges, mutual borrowings, and competition between different ethnic groups. Based on a variety of written and visual sources, including a rich corpus of more than 340 Mongolian stone inscriptions, it documents why and how Wutaishan became one of the holiest sites for Mongols, who eventually reshaped its physical and spiritual landscape by their rites and strategies of appropriation.

Mongolian Studies: The Journal of the Mongolia Society is now available on JSTOR. Click here for a link to the entry, including volumes 1-33.

Asian Highlands Perspectives 36: Mapping the Monguor
by Gerald Roche and C. K. Stuart, published 2015). Nearly ten years in the making, this book focuses on the people officially referred to in China as the Tu and more commonly known in the West as the Monguor. The Tu live mostly in Qinghai and Gansu provinces, on the northeast Tibetan Plateau. The thirteen contributions in this collection shed new light on diversity among the Monguor, challenging representations that treat them as a homogenous category. This mapping of cultural and linguistic diversity is organized according to the three territories where the Monguor live: the Duluun Lunkuang 'The Seven Valleys', where the Mongghul language is spoken; Sanchuan 'The Three Valleys', where the Mangghuer language is spoken; and Khre tse Bzhi 'The Four Estates', where the Bonan language is spoken. In addition to mapping diversity among the Monguor in terms of these territories, we also map the project of the contemporary Chinese state and Western observers to describe and classify the Monguor. Consisting of translations of valuable source materials as well as original research articles, this book is an essential reference work for Tibetologists, Sinologists, Mongolists, and all those interested in cultural and linguistic diversity in Asia. Includes maps, images, references, article abstracts, and a list of non-English terms with original scripts Mapping the Monguor is is available as a free download at:
PlateauCulture and can be purchased as a hardback HERE.

Faces of the Wolf
, by Bernard Charlier (Brill, 2015). In his study of the human, non-human relationships in Mongolia, Bernard Charlier explores the role of the wolf in the ways nomadic herders relate to their natural environment and to themselves. The wolf, as the enemy of the herds and a prestigious prey, is at the core of two technical relationships, herding and hunting, endowed with particular cosmological ideas. The study of these relationships casts a new light on the ways herders perceive and relate to domestic and wild animals. It convincingly undermines any attempt to consider humans and non-humans as entities belonging a priori to autonomous spheres of existence, which would reify the nature-society boundary into a phenomenal order of things and so justify the identity of western epistemology.

The Hunter, the Stag, and the Mother of Animals: Image, Monument and Landscape in Ancient North Asia
by Esther Jacobson-Tepfer (Oxford University Press, 2015).
This book explores the archaeology of myth within North Asia from the pre-Bronze Age through the early Iron Age. It is the first study to explore the interweaving of petroglyphic imagery, stone monuments and landscape context to reconstruct the traditions of myth and belief of ancient hunters and herders. The ancient taiga, steppe and mountain steppe of Mongolia and the region to the north gave rise to a mythic narrative of birth, death and transformation. Within that tale reflecting the hardship of life of ancient nomadic hunters and herders, the hunter, the mother of animals and the stag are central protagonists. That is not, however, the order in which they appeared in prehistory. We tend to privilege the hero hunter of the Bronze Age and his re-incarnation as a warrior in the Iron Age. But before him and, in a sense, behind him was a female power, half animal-half human. From her came permission to hunt the animals of the taiga, and by her they were replenished. She was, in other words, the source of the hunter’s success. The stag was a latecomer to this tale, a complex symbol of death and transformation embedded in what ultimately became a struggle for priority between animal mother and hero hunter.
From the region in which this narrative is set there are no written texts to illuminate prehistory. Hundreds of burials across the steppe reveal little relating to myth and belief before the late Bronze Age. What they tell us is that uncertain people and cultures came and went, leaving behind huge stone mounds, altars and standing stones as well as thousands of images pecked and painted on stone. This book uses that material as well as ethnographic materials to reconstruct the prehistory of myth and belief in ancient North Asia; it does so by placing stone monuments and imagery within the context of the physical landscape and by considering all three elements as reflections of the archaeology of belief. Within that process, paleoenvironmental forces, economic innovations and changing social order served as pivots of mythic transformation. They underlie the long transition from animal mother to the apotheosis of hero hunter and warrior in North Asia.