Subject: This Month in Mongolian Studies - March 2016

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March 2016
In this Issue:

ACMS Announcements

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

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
ACMS Annual Meeting, Poster Session, and Reception in Seattle, Friday, April 1st, 2016. Please join us for our 2016 ACMS Annual Meeting! 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).

Our membership meeting will begin promptly at 7:30pm, in the Willow A Ballroom with reports from Marc Tassé (Resident Director) and Julia Clark (Cultural Heritage Coordinator) from our Ulaanbaatar office, as well as from David Dettmann (US Director) from our Philadelphia office and Charles Krusekopf (ACMS Executive Director).

A reception, poster session, and a cultural program will immediately follow the membership meeting. Posters will be presented by researchers and administrators who do important work in Mongolia, and the cultural program will feature a Mongolian musical performance. Drinks will be available for purchase, and light refreshments will be served courtesy of our event co-sponsor, Western Washington University.

The event is free and open to public. Registration to AAS is not required.

Meeting and reception co-sponsored by Western Washington University

ACMS to Release New Series “Mongolian Field Notes”

The ACMS is excited to announce the launching of a new online research publication called Mongolian Field Notes which will be available periodically tentatively starting May 1st, 2016. Mongolia Field Notes will communicate academic research about Mongolia to broader audiences. They are modeled on the successful Asia Pacific Field Note’s produced by the Institute of Asian Research at the University of British Columbia (http://www.asiapacificField

Mongolia Field Notes connect research work conducted by Mongolian and international researchers to issues in contemporary Mongolia. The goal is to highlight researchers and their areas of expertise, and to provide information in a concise format. Field Notes can cover any topic related to Mongolia, including politics, economics and business, science, environment and technology, or people, history and society.

We are currently encouraging American, Mongolian and other international researchers to submit their short articles for review. Write a 300 to 1000 word Field Note using lively, jargon-free language and clear writing. At this time, only submissions in English are accepted. A Field Note should explore an academic concept or research related to contemporary Mongolia. Where possible, integrate current events into your Field Note. Your submission should effectively convey a key idea or point, backed up by concise arguments and evidence.

Submissions are now being accepted for the May 1st as well as future editions of Mongolia Field Notes.   In order to be considered for the May 1st edition, your submission must be received by April 11th, 2016. For more information about how to submit as well as the full submission guidelines email Julia Clark at
ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events
Speaker Series:

Caleb Pan, “The State and Fate of Mongolia’s Environment”
Tuesday, March 1st, 5:30pm, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

Mongolia is uniquely located in the heart of the Asian landmass and as a consequence this geographic location facilitates one of the strongest continental climates on earth. Largely governed by its unique climate, Mongolia is a water restricted country. Despite Mongolia’s limited access to water, the country has been rapidly developing water dependent economies including mining, livestock, and agriculture. This talk will discuss the progression of Mongolia’s climate from the Pleistocene to the present with special respect to lakes and glaciations and how Mongolia’s water availability has been influenced over time. More importantly, this talk will describe the future sustainability of Mongolia’s economic sectors as its climate continues to evolve.

Caleb Pan was a 2014 ACMS Field Research fellow, and he is currently in Mongolia on a Fulbright Research Grant working and collaborating with researchers from the Institute of Geography and Geo-ecology. In general, Caleb’s dissertation research is focused on improving geospatial data and technologies for environmental monitoring, as well as understanding the impacts of climate change on glaciers and lakes in western Mongolia. Caleb received his M.S. in Geography at the University of Montana in 2013 and has since conducted research on glaciers and glacier-hydrology in the high mountains of Ecuador, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Nepal. He is a doctoral student in the University of Montana’s Systems Ecology Program.
Odbaatar Tserendorj, “Preliminary Results of the National Museum of Mongolian ‘Airagiin Gozgor’ Project Research in argalant sum, Orkhon province”
Tuesday, March 22nd, 5:30pm, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

In addition to historical documents, archaeological excavations are one of the most important sources for information on the ancient history of Mongolia. Results of excavations at the site of Airagiin Gozgor in Jargalant sum, Orkhon province will shed new light on Mongolian ancestors and clarify our understanding of Mongolia. This project excavated 9 tombs over 2 years that display evidence of unique ritual practices. These tombs are quite different than other tombs excavated in the territory of Mongolia. Preliminary results suggest that tombs date back to the end of Xiongnu Empire to subsequent nomads.

Odbaatar Tserendorj received his PhD from Mongolian State University of Education in 2013 and works at the National Museum of Mongolia as the Head of the Archaeology and Anthropology department at the Research Center. His specialization is the archeology of ancient Mongolian states, especially the royal tombs of the Uyghur’s 6th-8th century. In recent years, he has focused on investigation of the ancient Xianbei culture in Mongolia.

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

In the United States:

Marc Tassé, “Mongolia’s Higher Education Reform Initiatives – Opportunities for Research and Collaboration”
Tuesday, March 29th, 12pm, 180 Doe Library, University of California Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies

Since 1921 when Russia helped the Mongolians break free from Imperialism till the collapse of the Soviet Union, education in Mongolia was a mirror of the soviet model, resulting in a 97% literacy, but at the cost of its traditional language, script and many parts of its culture.
In the 1990’s following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Mongolia declaring itself a Democratic Capitalistic country, there was a collapse of the soviet supported institutions, including universities, leading to a mass exodus seeking higher education in the US, Europe and other parts of Asia. With the promise in increasing wealth and opportunities, the Mongolian diaspora began to repatriate, and with them have been bringing a drive to reform Mongolia’s education system, and develop Universities and higher education into a semblance of the Liberal Arts model, with varying success. This has also created increased interest and awareness of the importance of research and research collaboration. This presentation will focus on current research opportunities, highlighting recent changes in Mongolian higher education, and current trends and resources for researchers in Mongolia.

Marc Tassé is the Resident Director of the ACMS. He has a Masters of Global Management with concentration in International Entrepreneurship from Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC, and a Masters of International Business Administration with concentration in Intercultural Business Development from the Munich University of Applied Science.

Sponsored by the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of California Berkeley. For more details see event webpage at IEAS.

New Books Acquired for the ACMS Library
  • Honeychurch, William. Inner Asia and the Spatial Politics of Empire: Archaeology, Mobility, and Culture Contact (Nov 2014, Springer)

  • Sablin, Ivan. Governing Post-Imperial Siberia and Mongolia, 1911-1924: Buddhism, Socialism, and Nationalism in State and Autonomy Building (Feb. 2016, Routledge)
Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants
Call for Applications: The 2017-2018 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowships. The Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar is now accepting applications for the 2017-2018 Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program. This is a one-year, non-degree professional exchange program. It provides approximately a year of study and related professional experience in the U.S. to Mongolian citizen mid-career professionals working in the public service fields listed below, in either the public or private sector. Applicants can submit applications in two categories as Regular Humphrey program or Long Term English Required program. Regular Humphrey program applicants shall hold a minimum TOEFL score of 520/71 and Long Term English Required Applicants shall have a TOEFL score of 470/52.  Long Term English Required candidates shall meet all other requirements set by the program except the lower TOEFL score. Those winning the grant under this category will be required to attend Academic English Language training prior to start of the academic program in the United States. For more information, visit the US Embassy's website page here:

Call for Applications: Zorig Foundation Young Scholar Program Teaching Fellowship. The Zorig Foundation is currently recruiting college students and recent alumni from top American universities to participate as seminar leaders. In this role, you will expose outstanding Mongolian high school students to a liberal arts curriculum and provide guidance on the college admissions process. The week-long program will include extensive extracurricular activities, including a social entrepreneurship project. You will also have the opportunity to fully explore Mongolia, a unique nomadic culture, and witness the country’s momentous economic and social changes. For interested Seminar Leaders, YSP may help arrange summer internship opportunities in Mongolia. Due date for application: 15 April, 2016. Application link can be found here. For more information, email or

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 in January 2017 (NOTE: event has been postponed from the originally planned Friday, March 25, 2016). The event will be 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 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

The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century by Igor de Rachewiltz. Shorter version edited by John C. Street, University of Wisconsin―Madison. Electronic book freely available as part of Western Washington University’s Contributing to Education through Digital Access to Research (CEDAR) portal at

Governing Post-Imperial Siberia and Mongolia, 1911-1924: Buddhism, Socialism and Nationalism in State and Autonomy Building by Ivan Sablin (February 2016, Routledge). The governance arrangements put in place for Siberia and Mongolia after the collapse of the Qing and Russian Empires were highly unusual, experimental and extremely interesting. The Buryat-Mongol Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic established within the Soviet Union in 1923 and the independent Mongolian People’s Republic established a year later were supposed to represent a new model of transnational, post-national governance, incorporating religious and ethno-national independence, under the leadership of the coming global political party, the Communist International. The model, designed to be suitable for a socialist, decolonised Asia, and for a highly diverse population in a strategic border region, was intended to be globally applicable. This book, based on extensive original research, charts the development of these unusual governance arrangements, discusses how the ideologies of nationalism, socialism and Buddhism were borrowed from, and highlights the relevance of the subject for the present day world, where multiculturality, interconnectedness and interdependency become ever more complicated.

From Birth to Death: Power, Meanings, and Tea Practices in Mongolia by Gaby T. Bamana (February 2016, Academica Press). From Birth to Death is a scholarly monograph based on years of field work in Mongolia as well as original research in Asia, Europe and North America. It is an original and detailed ethnography of tea practices, female power and gendered meaning in Mongolia. It is also a welcome addition to the field by an African scholar of distinction who is one of the few Black African researchers in Central Asia. This work makes two major contributions to the field of Mongolian studies and anthropology. This is a first detailed ethnography of tea practices in Mongolia, a country that does not produce tea and yet is a major tea consumer. The book tells the story of what people do with tea in Mongolia. The second contribution of this work is the description of female power and gendered meanings as the experience connected to tea practices. Female power is the experience of impacting on other people s acts from a gendered position of power. Through tea practices, which are ascribed to women, women construct gendered meanings that are a contribution to the cultural system in Mongolia. For a society that is predominantly described as patriarchal, this work brings to shore the experience of a female world of meanings different from the rest and yet that stands in complementarity with it.

Konsol’skaya Sluzhba Rossii v Mongolii (1864-1917) by Alexandra A. Sizova (2015, Nauka). This monograph is the first comprehensive work reconstructing a complete picture of the formation and functioning of the Russian consulates network in Mongolia before 1917. The author analyzes the role of the consular institutions in the protection of the interests of the Russian empire and the Russian diaspora in Mongolia, coordination and development of political, economic and socio-cultural relations between Russia, Mongolia and China. The research is based on a wide range of sources, primarily the archival materials which have not been introduced into scientific use. This book helps to specify the unique diplomatic contribution made by the imperial consulates to the implementation of the Russian Empire’s policy in the Far East, maintenance of regional security in East Asia, development of Mongolia and its rapprochement with Russia in the second half of the 19th ⎯ the early 20th century. The results of the author’s investigations open the new pages in the history of the Russian diplomacy and its foreign service and of the «Russian world» in Asia.

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.