Subject: This Month in Mongolian Studies - May 2016

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May 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
ACMS first issue of “Mongolia Field Notes” Released

For the first issue of Mongolia Field Notes, Bjoern Reichhardt reflected on his work researching Ulaanbaatar's fenced spaces: Material Culture of the Khashaa: Fence Exigency in Ulaanbaatar’s Ger Districts.

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 tight, 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. A Field Note should explore an academic concept or research related to contemporary Mongolia in a lively and jargon-free piece of 300 to 1000 words. At this time, only submissions in English are accepted. 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. If you are interested in contributing a Field Note, please contact Julia Clark at
ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events
Speaker Series:

Alex Skinner, “Putrefaction and Prototyping: the political economy of spatial and temporal transformation in Ulaanbaatar”
Tuesday, May 10th, 5:30pm, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

What can a single building in central Ulaanbaatar reveal about the bricolage of social, political and material transformations at play within in Ulaanbaatar today?
In the wake of socialism and colonialism, a rich vein of transitology offers us array of concepts through which to render the potentialities of space, place, networks and meanings as they are yoked to temporal transformations. Amidst a burgeoning discourse on urban planning in Ulaanbaatar, I present this paper as a means to initiate discussion on the very material basis of emergent and unintended transformations in a rapidly developing urban society.

The grey carcass of the building in question looms imposingly over the political, cultural and now bustling business heart of the Mongolian Capital. Straining skywards since the height of a mining-led investment boom in Mongolia, the structure currently stands unfinished and dormant, ringed by diminutive apartment buildings that once housed high-ranking members of socialist society. As the construction protrudes from one of the most intensive sites of socialism in Mongolia, it has attracted questions over legitimacy of land transfers and planning permissions within the capital.

In tracing the swimming potentialities of this structure single structure, we can witness how it continues to invoke peculiar intensities of political networks that emerged from the socialist political economy as arteries and organs that can no longer function to support an ideal body, if they ever fully did. From and with these disrupted material and social remnants, a new array of forms also continues to emerge, which themselves remain visibly incomplete or decaying vis-à-vis their idealized natures.

Following these trajectories, this paper initiates discussion of a politics of urban development that draws epistemological and ethical import from the capacity to productively resist closure, excavate interiority and render salient the contradictions that beset and are productively constitutive of an array of new ideal and wholesome forms of politics, space and society in Ulaanbaatar.

Alex Skinner has been researching Ulaanbaatar’s cultural and political history since 2010. He is working on his doctoral on the anthropology of urban planning in Ulaanbaatar, which focuses on the variform temporalities and material forms involved in producing plans and defining horizons of ethical and epistemological engagement. Since 2010 Alex has also focused on applied urban research, consulting on urban strategy and development in Ulaanbaatar. He is hoping to continue his studies into anthropology of urban informatics during 2017.
New Books Acquired for the ACMS Library
  • Brophy, David. Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russia-China Frontier (Apr 2016, Harvard University Press)

  • Steinhardt, Nancy Shatzman. China's Early Mosques (Edinburgh Studies in Islamic Art) (Jan. 2016, Edinburgh University Press)
Calls for Papers, Conferences, and Workshops
Call for Papers: Russian State University for the Humanities Centre for Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies international conference "The Mongols: Traditional Culture and Modern Times", October 13-15, 2016. The conference is expected to become an integrated workshop for researchers from different countries interested in various aspects of Mongolian culture. The event is aimed to facilitate the exchange of research practices, new ideas, themes, approaches and projects, and for the coordination of further plans in our relatively narrow professional community. The event will focus on the traditional and contemporary culture of Mongolia and its reflections in folklore, rituals, literature, language, sociocultural phenomena and processes. We expect the participants to give presentations in folklore studies, philology, social and cultural anthropology of Mongolian peoples and their neighbors, as well as in cross-disciplinary studies within this area. We will be happy to present the results of our ten-year project, which included the collection and systematization of field work materials. Since 2006 the folklorists of RSUH have organized 12 expeditions to Mongolia, Buryatia, North Kazakhstan and Inner Mongolia. Their goal was to collect matter to study the region’s oral traditions in an area and comparative typological perspective. The field work allowed us to acquire data on the contemporary state of folklore and mythological traditions of different ethnic groups in numerous regions of Mongolia: Khalkha (including those of the Gobi), Dariganga, Üzemchin, Barga, Khamnigan, Daur, Mongolian Buryat, Darkhad, Khotogoid, Uriankhai, Dörbet, Myangad, Olot, Zakhchin, Trans-Baikal Khori, Ust-Ordynsky Bulagad, as well as Mongolian Kazakh, including the migrants from Mongolia and China living in Pavlodar oblast (Kazakhstan). In RSUH, Mongolian studies have been carried out by the Institute for Oriental and Classical Studies and the Centre for Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies. The department of Southern and Central Asian History and Philology produces orientalists specializing in philology and history of Mongolia with the profound knowledge in Tibetan history, written tradition and religions (headed by A.D. Tsendina). The Centre for Typological and Semiotic Folklore Studies carries out scholar research in mythology and oral traditions of Mongolian ethnic groups (headed by S.Yu. Neklyudov). If you are interested in participating in this event, please submit your application form, the title of your paper abstracts (up to 300 words) by the 1st of June 2016. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us by email:
The conference will be held at Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow, Miusskaya square 6). Working languages: Russian and English. Lunches and accommodation fees for presenters will be covered by the hosting institution.

Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants
Call for Applications: Research Fellowship at the National University of Mongolia (Зочин судлаачдад судалгааны тэтгэлэг)
Within the framework of the Research financing procedure of the National University of Mongolia (NUM) 2016, the overseas fellows are invited to submit joint research proposals related to Mongolia. Fellowship would be granted to a visiting scholar who is coming to Mongolia for a maximum of 6 months and intending to publish scientific articles in international peer-reviewed scientific journals with SCI, SSCI, and A&HCI by cooperating with the NUM professors. Grantees can be visiting researcher from outside or Mongolian whose study area is related to Mongolia. Requirements: Study area must be related to Mongolia and field of study of the NUM professor. Research period at the National University of Mongolia should be at maximum 6 months. The applying research fellow must have sufficient ability and experience in publishing scientific articles in the international peer-reviewed journals. Application deadline: 20 May, 2016. Project budget depends on the research field of visiting researcher, and the selection committee at the NUM administration determines the maximum amount of budget annually. Stipend financing of the visiting scholar will be regulated by the contract between the visiting scholar and the collaborating NUM professor. The project budget can be spent in the following categories:
Travel expenses of visiting researcher to Mongolia, Research expenses in Mongolia, Publication fees of article in international scientific journal, Stipend of visiting professor (amount of stipend depends on experience of scholars, their suggested amount of budget and other related factors).
Paper based application form (online version via e-mail: should be submitted to Room 206, Research and Innovation Department, 1st building of the National University of Mongolia. NUM host professor in Mongolia will be required to use NUM’s online application system to apply for the program. For detailed procedures, please refer to the online application system guide at (in Mongolian)
If you have questions related to system errors please contact to system programmer:
Phone: 89009066, E-mail:

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. Application deadline May 23. For more information, visit the US Embassy's website page here:

Other News and Events
Events in the United States:

The Mongolian Cultural Center and the Embassy of Mongolia in Washington, D.C. co-organize a Mongolian Studies Conference every year. This year’s conference is scheduled for May 13 through 14th, 2016, at the Embassy of Mongolia and the Library of Congress. The conference is open to the public; however, attendees must pre-register and pay the conference fee to attend. Following each presentation, attendees are welcome to ask questions of presenters and engage in further detailed discussion on the topic as time permits. To register, please send your first and last name, employer, and the location (only city and state will be sufficient) to This information will be used solely for the purpose of making your conference badge. The conference fee of $35 entitles you to attend the conference on May 13-14th (breakfast and lunch included). At the conference you will receive a commemorative pen and a folder containing hard copies of presentations). You are invited to attend the conference-closing party on the evening of May 14th hosted by the Embassy of Mongolia and Keynote Speech at the Library of Congress. For more information including a conference schedule, please visit the website of the Mongolian Cultural Center at or call 202-302-4340.

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 Canada:

Special academic rates offered for 26th NAMBC Annual Meeting and Investors Forum, Ottawa, May 17-18. Among the distinguished speakers will be Da. Ganbold, CEO of Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC, one of the best-respected leaders of Mongolian democracy for the past 26 years, Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC is the state-owned company that holds the Mongolian Government’s stake in the vast Oyu Tolgoi mine. Davaadorj Ganbold has played a central role in Mongolian governance and democracy-building for a quarter century. He was the first-ever Deputy Prime Minister of Mongolia in 1990-92 and was the architect of the free market economic reforms enacted during that decade. He later served as Vice Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, home to over half the nation’s population, and as Chairman of the National Railways Authority. His distinguished political career includes serving two terms in the State Great Khural, Mongolia’s Parliament,  where he was Chairman of the Standing Committee on Economic Affairs. He holds a PhD  in economics and is a widely published author.
The North America-Mongolia Business Council (NAMBC),is the only business organization active in Mongolia that regularly offers deeply discounted registration rates for academics of any nationality and for Mongolian graduates of US or Canadian schools. These rates apply for the NAMBC’s 26th  Annual Meeting and Investors Forum, May 17-18, in Ottawa. For further information, visit or contact

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

Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russia-China Frontier by David Brophy (Harvard University Press, April 2016). The meeting of the Russian and Qing empires in the nineteenth century had dramatic consequences for Central Asia’s Muslim communities. Along this frontier, a new political space emerged, shaped by competing imperial and spiritual loyalties, cross-border economic and social ties, and the revolutions that engulfed Russia and China in the early twentieth century. David Brophy explores how a community of Central Asian Muslims responded to these historic changes by reinventing themselves as the modern Uyghur nation. As exiles and émigrés, traders and seasonal laborers, a diverse diaspora of Muslims from China’s northwest province of Xinjiang spread to Russian territory, where they became enmeshed in political and intellectual currents among Russia’s Muslims. From the many national and transnational discourses of identity that circulated in this mixed community, the rhetoric of Uyghur nationhood emerged as a rallying point in the tumult of the Bolshevik Revolution and Russian Civil War. Working both with and against Soviet policy, a shifting alliance of constituencies invoked the idea of a Uyghur nation to secure a place for itself in Soviet Central Asia and to spread the revolution to Xinjiang. Although its existence was contested in the fractious politics of the 1920s, in the 1930s the Uyghur nation achieved official recognition in the Soviet Union and China. Grounded in a wealth of little-known archives from across Eurasia, Uyghur Nation offers a bottom-up perspective on nation-building in the Soviet Union and China and provides crucial background to the ongoing contest for the history and identity of Xinjiang.

China's Early Mosques by Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt (Edinburgh University Press, Jan. 2016). What happens when a monotheistic, foreign religion needs a space in which to worship in China, a civilisation with a building tradition that has been largely unchanged for several millennia? The story of this extraordinary convergence begins in the 7th century and continues under the Chinese rule of Song and Ming, and the non-Chinese rule of the Mongols and Manchus, each with a different political and religious agenda. The author shows that mosques, and ultimately Islam, have survived in China because the Chinese architectural system, though often unchanging, is adaptable: it can accommodate the religious requirements of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Islam.

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.