Subject: This Month in Mongolian Studies - November 2017

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November 2017
In this Issue:

ACMS Announcements 

ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events
Position Openings

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

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


Marc Tasse"After four and half great years, I’ve made the decision to leave the ACMS to take a new position as Country Director for the EU based INGO “People In Need”, here in Ulaanbaatar.

The decision to leave the ACMS was a difficult one, as I have had many wonderful experiences and met fantastic people. I will miss the discussions about history, culture, environment and all the wonderful research that is being done in Mongolia.  I have learnt more about the world and where Mongolia fits in it thanks to all of you.

Our first big achievement was the move to Natsagdorj Library, the growing relationship with their staff and our partnership in piloting new ideas in library management.  We are very appreciative of their support and are very proud that we worked together to improve the library facility and especially in creating the Reading Park at the front.  This green area with trees, benches and a pond was built by volunteer staff and community members, with donations from various private organizations, something that many people told me could not be done because Mongolians don’t volunteer.  The park is a testament that Mongolians really do care.

The Books for Mongolia program gave us a strong opportunity to make a mark and let people across Mongolia know that the ACMS existed and what we stand for. I greatly appreciate the Asia Foundation for trusting us with their capstone program. BFM strengthened our relationship with local Universities, ministries, civil societies and most importantly communities and schools across Mongolia. These relationships have permitted us to better serve foreign researchers and get access to resources and opportunities that were not previously available.

A personal highlight was the development of library services in partnership with Western Washington University, the Mongolian National University of Education and the Mongolian National Library.  Using the expertise and support of these institutions, we’ve been running annual library development conferences, conducted trainings for rural librarians and have laid down the foundation for future projects centered on a national strategy for improving library services across Mongolia.

On the research side our expanded relationship with the National Museum of History has facilitated access to collections and archeological research in Mongolia.  Several high profile events have been held at the museum through our partnership, such as Ambassador Jonathan Addleton’s book launch on US – Mongol relations, or the recent VIP event focused around the Altai Mummy exhibit. We’ve also developed a strong rapport with the National Archive, the Academy of Science, Mongolian universities and civil society institutions.  It has been an honor to be guest speaker and presenter and the countless events held in Mongolia.

Through these efforts we were able to acquire a cultural heritage grant focused on making data about Mongolia more available and supporting related research. We’ve established the annual International Young Researchers forum, bringing Mongolian and International researchers under 35 together to discuss research needs and develop opportunities for collaborative and multi-disciplinary projects.

There are many other activities, programs and initiatives that have been started and developed during my time at the ACMS. But the best memories I will keep from the ACMS are the patio dinners, BBQ’s at my house, the lunches and coffees with all of you where new ideas and collaborations were explored.  Finding ways of bringing the Mongolian and expat research community together is my proudest achievement.

Starting in mid-October, I’ll be based at the People In Need (PIN) Mongolia office, 5 minutes from the ACMS. PIN focuses on a wide range of community development and emergency response projects in Mongolia, the organization is growing and I look forward to the challenge of leading the change.

I hope to take advantage of my relationship with all of you to create new research and implementation opportunities. PIN works with partnerships, both local and international, to deliver their projects, so please feel free to contact me with your ideas and we’ll see if something new can be created.

I hope to stay in touch with all of you and expect you to drop by and visit me when you’re in country and share what you have learnt over a coffee or other beverage.

After October 15th I can be reached at the following:


ACMS memberships generally follow our fiscal year of October 1st to September 30th. That means it may again be time to renew your membership. If you are not already a member of the ACMS, please consider becoming a member.

ACMS Members are an important part of the governance of the organization, having voting rights to elect “At-Large” representatives of the Board of Directors for individual and student members and rights to nominate a representative on the Board of Directors for institutional members. The Board of Directors is the governing body of the organization, and it has complete authority over all programs and activities. Members, both individual and institutional, therefore have a direct stake in the future development of the organization.

Membership is open to individuals, corporations, and institutions that support the ACMS's mission of promoting scholarship in Mongolia, and dues go directly towards supporting the programmatic and administrative expenses of the organization. As a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, academic organization, membership dues and other donations paid to the ACMS are tax deductible in the United States.

For more information on member benefits and ways to pay, please see our membership page. If you are unsure if your membership has expired with the ACMS, please contact ACMS Program Manager David Dettmann at


All ACMS members will have recently received a request to complete our short annual membership survey.  Whether you are (or were) an active member, fellow, patron, shopper, occasional visitor to our offices or to our website between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017,  we want to hear from you!  Please take a moment to complete our survey, responding it at all possible by november 10, 2017.

Also, if the ACMS has helped you to achieve new heights professionally in the past year (i.e. with publications or presentations based in part on ACMS support), and you haven't reached out to us in about those successes this fall, please do let us know. 

Finally, we appreciate hearing from you with items that might be included in the monthly newsletter as well as other input that can help strengthen ACMS as an institution and make it better.  Feel free to connect directly with ACMS Executive Director Jonathan Addleton at

ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events

ATTENTION US K-12 TEACHERS! The ACMS will again be leading an NEH Summer Institute in summer 2018, this time for K-12 teachers. Co-directors Morris Rossabi and David Dettmann will be running the program at the University of Pennsylvania, from July 16th to August 10, 2018. Successful applicants will receive a stipend of $3,300 to reside on campus in beautiful University City to study about the Mongol Empire! Application deadline will be March 1st, 2018

See our NEH Summer Institute 2018 website for more information.

Mari Valdur - "One for Each Trouble: Establishing and Navigating Private Clinics in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia"

Tuesday, November 14 at 5:30, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

Since becoming a democratic state, Mongolia has gone through significant healthcare reforms that have resulted in the rise of a large and often confusing private sector. This presentation will review the recent history of a rising market economy and its impact on healthcare in Mongolia, with a particular focus on Ulaanbaatar. 

In a situation where doctors’ salaries are below the national average, establishing private practices, or related businesses, has become one way for doctors to cope with the situation. For the patients (clients), the system, in many cases, remains unknown and unpredictable in the course of seeking assistance.

Although access to healthcare has become an extremely different experience, depending on the ability to pay, there are still services that overwhelmingly belong to the state, such as childbirth. This presentation will discuss social anthropology and medical anthropology and how these disciplines could approach and contribute to the understanding of the situation and provide some examples beyond Mongolia. Guests from both academic and non-academic backgrounds are warmly invited to participate.

The seminar will be in English. However, the outline and the section on methodology will also be available in Mongolian.

About the Speaker: Mari Valdur is a PhD student of social anthropology at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She is based in Ulaanbaatar for her PhD fieldwork until fall 2018. This is her fifth visit since early 2012, amounting to year and a half working and carrying out research in Mongolia. Her current interests cover reproductive healthcare in Ulaanbaatar, both issues of availability, access and (in)formality as well as broader themes of spatial relations in and beyond the city, gender and personhood.

Speaker Series events are co-sponsored by ACMS and the American Cultural and Information Center, Ulaanbaatar


Mongolia Field Notes #10:  Amur Falcon nesting ecology: a case-study in land-use practices, climate change, and protected areas in central Mongolia – Ryan C. Burner

Mongolia, due to its diversity of habitats and elevations and its key location along central Asian migratory routes, is home to a wide variety of bird life. Much important habitat is under threat, however, from the changes in vegetation that can result from climate change, and from overgrazing by domestic livestock.

In collaboration with Dr. Gombobaatar Sundev of the National University of Mongolia, I spent the summer in Hustai National Park studying breeding Amur Falcons (Falco amurensis). Unlike the famous Saker Falcon of Mongolian pride, this small falcon uses nests built by magpies and little is known about the details of its nesting ecology. Our goal was not only to better understand this fascinating species, but also to use them to study the effects of forest loss in the park (due to disease, drought, and browsing pressure from animals).

We monitored over 25 falcon nests and 40 nests of other species to determine daily survival and predation rates, weighed and measured chicks from time of hatching until they left the nest, and collected toenail and feather samples to analyze nestling diet using nitrogen isotopes. We also recorded data on hundreds of former Common Magpie nest structures throughout our study area. This will allow us to determine the characteristics of nests that the falcons are choosing to use, and see how prevalent these nests types are in order to determine if nest availability may be limiting this species.

Hustai National Park is special not only because of the concentration of Amur Falcons that are known to nest there, but also because it is one of the world’s key reintroduction sites for the Takhi (aka Przewalski’s horse or Mongolian wild horse). The success of the Takhi reintroduction has been accompanied by an increase in the population of Red Deer due to protection from hunting, and increased browsing pressure by these deer may be reducing forest regeneration.

We are just beginning to analyze our data and process samples, but we hope that our work will provide some helpful insights into how Amur Falcons choose nesting sites, what they feed their young in various habitats, and how this affects the growth of nestlings. This should allow the park to make management recommendations and better understand the implications of declines in forest health.

Many thanks to the American Center for Mongolian Studies for funding and facilitating this research, and to the National University of Mongolia and Mongolian Ornithological Society for their support.

Symes, Craig T., and Stephan Woodborne. “Migratory connectivity and conservation of the Amur Falcon Falco amurensis: a stable isotope perspective.” Bird Conservation International 20.2 (2010): 134-148.
Pietersen, Darren W., and Craig T. Symes. “Assessing the diet of Amur Falcon Falco amurensis and Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni using stomach content analysis.” Ostrich 81.1 (2010): 39-44
About the Author:  Ryan Burner is a PhD student at the Louisiana State University Museum of Natural Science, where he studies community ecology of birds in Borneo. This trip was his first of (hopefully) many to the Mongolian steppe.

Field Notes are posted on the ACMS facebook and website from time to time, highlighting ongoing research undertaken by ACMS Fellows and others that is of possible interest to ACMS members

Position Openings

ACMS is looking for a Cultural Heritage Program (CHP) Assistant who will:

-- Maintain and expand ACMS CHP programs, events and resources
-- Develop digital databases
-- Facilitate research activities of international scholars working in Mongolia
-- Act as liaison and representative for ACMS cultural heritage-related activities
-- Assist in oral and written translation from Mongolian to English and vice versa
-- Assist in the development and identification of new programs and funding sources to support the Mission of the ACMS CHP
-- Assist in the operation of the ACMS office


The ideal candidate for this position will be a motivated professional with a Bacherlor's degree or higher from an accredited university, advanced interpersonal skills, strong computer/IT skills, fluent Mongolian, upper-intermediate English (written and spoken), strong research skills and the ability to work well with a team. A solid understanding of cultural heritage or related fields is preferred.

For further details visit  This is a full time position based on a year-long contract with the possibility of an extension.  In order to apply, please submit the following materials (in English): a cover letter, current resume with contact information, and a list of three references to Baigalmaa Begzsuren (ACMS Manager) at

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled but we strongly encourage you to send your application as soon as possible.

Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants
ACMS Field Research Fellowship Program provides awards of up $4000 to US citizen students and/or university faculty to conduct academic field research in Mongolia between May and October. The ACMS Library Fellowship Program provides US citizen advanced graduate students or faculty in library science or related fields with up to $4000 to conduct short-term projects and/or research in Mongolia between May and October. The program helps support the development of the ACMS research library through specific defined projects designed to enhance the collection content and resource availability. Both of these fellowships are 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. Deadline for receipt of complete applications: February 15, 2018. For more information about two fellowship programs, please visit

ACMS Intensive Mongolian Language Fellowship. Students and scholars are invited to enroll in an eight week Intermediate Intensive Mongolian Language Program at the ACMS in Ulaanbaatar, from mid-June to early August 2018. The focus of this program is to provide students 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. For more information visit our Language Program page. Deadline for receipt of applications: March 1, 2018.

Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) NEH Senior Research Fellowship Program - deadline to apply:  January 31st, 2018
. The Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) is pleased to announce the National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Research Fellowship Program! This fellowship supports advanced research in the humanities for U.S. postdoctoral scholars, and foreign national postdoctoral scholars who have been residents in the US for three or more years. Scholars must carry out research in a country which hosts a participating American overseas research center. Eligible countries for 2017-2018 are: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Cyprus, Georgia, Indonesia, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, Senegal, Sri Lanka or Tunisia. Fellowship stipends are $4,200 per month for a maximum of four months. This program is funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) under the Fellowship Programs at Independent Research Institutions (FPIRI). For more information, visit the CAORC fellowship page.

Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) Multi-Country Research Fellowship Program  - deadline to apply:  January 31st, 2018. The Council of American Overseas Research Centers (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). 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. For more information, visit the CAORC fellowship page.

Other News and Events
Media References to ACMS

The UK-based Guardian published a lengthy article entitled “Beyond Genghis Khan: How Looting Threatens to Erase Mongolia's History" (October 26, 2017), based in significant part on input provided by ACMS Cultural Heritage Director Julia Clark and ACMS Cultural Preservation Fellow Sandra Vanderwarf.

Among other things, the article noted looting at certain grave sites:

“Because to date there have been no monitoring efforts, we can’t say just how bad it has become” says Dr Julia Clark, an archaeologist and the Cultural Heritage Director at ACMS. Clark has also noticed that archaeological research projects can actually encourage and guide the efforts of looters, who might otherwise have left sites undisturbed. “Unfortunately,” she says, “people sometimes think that we’re stealing gold and treasure, and want to get some for themselves.” With few resources to allocate towards anti-looting efforts, anonymity is the only line of defense for many of the nation’s archaeological sites . . .

Through the education and public outreach efforts of archaeologists at the National Museum and the country’s other major archaeological research institutions (including the National University and the Cultural Resource Management Division at the Institute of Archaeology/Mongolian Academy of Sciences), a new generation of students and herders are learning the importance of archaeology and its relevance to their history and heritage. In many areas, local people have become dedicated stewards of the monuments and sites in the area they live. Clark, Bayarsaikhan, and their colleagues are working to develop programs which help quantify and monitor looting, as well as educate others about the goals of archaeology and the damage caused by looting.

Screening/Concert at Rubin Museum in New York (November 21, December 2, 2017)

Join us at the Rubin on Saturday, November 21, and Sunday, November 22, for the United States premiere screenings of the film Taïga (a film on the lives of Mongolian sheep herders) and on Wednesday, December 2, for our next Himalayan Heritage Meetup and a performance by internationally acclaimed Mongolian Horse-head Fiddle virtuoso Jigjiddorj Nanzaddorj.

XII Annual Mongolia Studies Conference in Washington, DC (February 9-10, 2018)

The Mongolian Cultural Center and The Embassy of Mongolia are pleased to invite interested participants to the XII Annual Mongolian Studies Conference. Research topic presented must be relevant to 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 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 translation of the paper at least one month prior to the conference.

Submission deadline for paper abstracts is November 15th, 2017. Abstracts must not exceed 500 words. Prospective presenters will receive an email from the conference organizers by December 1st if their paper is selected.

Prerequisite for presenting at the conference is payment of a $50 conference fee. Payment of the conference fee also entitles the presenter to membership in the Mongolian Cultural Center (If the presenter provide the conference fee, to become a member, we will waive the $50 membership fee will be waived). However, membership is optional.  The conference fee covers the 2-day attendance (breakfast, lunch, commemorative pen and folder included).

The conference will be held at the Embassy of Mongolia in Washington DC during February 9-10, 2018.  Abstracts should be sent to:

Other Lectures and Programs

Slow Accretion:  Producing Harm in Ulaanbaatar's Air Pollution Crisis 

Institute of Easts Asian Studies/Mongolia Initiative (November 7 at 4 PM, 180 Doe Library; sponsored by School of Public Health; contact point:, 510-642-2809)

Speaker:     Chisato Fukuda, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Moderator:  Franck Billé, Program Director, Silk Road Center, UC Berkeley

What counts as evidence of harm for those living in the midst of air pollution? Over the past two decades, air pollution has become a seasonal disaster in Ulaanbaatar, prompting widespread concerns about its harms to human bodies and the environment. These concerns have promoted various investments to document air pollution’s effects, from monitoring technologies, to interactive pollution maps, to epidemiological research.

Despite these interventions, what counts as evidence of harm remains disputed. Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic field research in Ulaanbaatar, I examine how various techniques of evidence-making – maps that spatialize harm, marketing strategies that mitigate harm, sensory practices that inflict social harm, bodily attunements that detect long-term harm, and “body fact” building in public health activism – coalesce and compete to identify and construct particular notions of harm. I show how evidence-making of harm must be examined through histories of inequality, hierarchies of knowledge production, and politics of place.

Recent Publications

Genocide on the Mongolian Steppe: First-Hand Accounts of Genocide in Southern Mongolia During the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Volume I Paperback – published on October 30, 2017; available on Amazon fpr $19.49) by Enghebatu Togochog (Translator), Yang Haiying (Author)

(Note:  This is an English translation of the book documenting the history of the persecution of Mongols in Inner Mongolia during the Cultural Revolution; it is already available in Japanese and German).

Professor Yang Haiying of Shizuoka University received the Shiba Ryotara Award upon publication of this book in Japanese several years ago. According to an article in the Japanese newspaper Iwanami Shoten at the time, Professor Haiying was "shocked speechless by hearing about the cruelties, I could not hold back my tears during the interviews with the victims".

Born in Ordos in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Yang Haiying came to study in Japan in March 1989, inspired by Tadao Umesao, founding head of the National Museum of Ethnology (1920-2010). Married to a Japanese woman, he obtained Japanese citizenship in 2000. Employed by Shizuoka University as a professor at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science since 2004, his research has focused on Mongolian ethnology.

Vividly describing the ethnic cleansing and forcible displacement of the Mongolian people based on testimonials and other materials, Genocide on the Mongolian Steppe is described in Iwanami Shoten as a "masterpiece in two volumes," taking the author 18 years to research and write. The effort included collecting a large number of official Chinese documents and interviewing more than 100 eyewitnesses.  

Long Narrative Songs from the Mongghul of Northeast Tibet: Texts in Mongghul, Chinese, and English by Li Dechun (李得春, Limusishiden) and Gerald Roche

Available as an Open Access publication (, Long Narrative Songs from the Mongghul of Northeast Tibet: Texts in Mongghul, Chinese, and English contains ballads of martial heroism, tales of tragic lovers and visions of the nature of the world, providing a rich repository of songs collected among the Mongghul of the Seven Valleys, on the northeast Tibetan Plateau in western China. These songs represent the apogee of Mongghul oral literature, providing valuable insights into the lives of Mongghul people—their hopes, dreams, and worries. They bear testimony to the impressive plurilingual repertoire commanded by some Mongghul singers: the original texts in Tibetan, Mongghul, and Chinese are here presented in Mongghul, Chinese, and English.

The kaleidoscope of stories told in these songs include that of Marshall Qi, a chieftain from the Seven Valleys who travels to Luoyang with his Mongghul army to battle rebels; Laarimbu and Qiimunso, a pair of star-crossed lovers who take revenge from beyond the grave on the families that kept them apart; and the Crop-Planting Song and the Sheep Song, which map the physical and spiritual terrain of the Mongghul people, vividly describing the physical and cosmological world in which they exist.

This collection of songs is supported by an Introduction by Gerald Roche that provides an understanding of their traditional context, and shows that these works offer insights into the practices of multilingualism in Tibet. Long Narrative Songs from the Mongghul of Northeast Tibet is vital reading for researchers and others working on oral literature, as well as those who study Inner Asia, Tibet, and China’s ethnic minorities. Finally, this book is of interest to linguistic anthropologists and sociolinguists, particularly those working on small-scale multilingualism and pre-colonial multilingualism.

Among Herders of Mongolia by Christel Braae (2017 National Museum of Denmark).  This is a study of a unique collection of INner Mongolian artifacts that are part of the Haslund-Christensen Collection at the National Museum of Denmark.  They are analyzed and visually presented in a ctalogue of more than 800 items, documenting daily life in a pastoral society.

Dark Heavens: Shamans and Hunters in Mongolia by Hamid Sardar (2016 Iranian-born anthropologist Hamid Sardar has been photographing different aspects of rural Mongolia since 2000, immersing himself in daily life and capturig on film the daily rituals, hunting expeditions and spiritual practices of countryside.  Mixing color and black-and-white images, this book showcases Mongolian shamans and hunters, reflecting their relationship with land and animals.  Along with the visual images, this book also includes an informative text that provides additional details and information that will be of special interests to anthropologists and photographers, regardless of whether they have visited Mongolia or not.

Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan by Bettine Birge (2017 Harvard University Press). The Mongol conquest of China in the thirteenth century and Khubilai Khan’s founding of the Yuan dynasty brought together under one government people of different languages, religions, and social customs. Chinese law evolved rapidly to accommodate these changes, as reflected in the great compendium Yuan dianzhang (Statutes and Precedents of the Yuan Dynasty). The records of legal cases contained in this seminal text, Bettine Birge shows, paint a portrait of medieval Chinese family life—and the conflicts that arose from it—that is unmatched by any other historical source. Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan reveals the complex, sometimes contradictory inner workings of the Mongol-Yuan legal system, seen through the prism of marriage disputes in chapter eighteen of the Yuan dianzhang, which has never before been translated into another language. Birge’s meticulously annotated translation clarifies the meaning of terms and passages, some in a hybrid Sino-Mongolian language, for specialists and general readers alike. The text includes court testimony—recorded in the vivid vernacular of people from all social classes—in lawsuits over adultery, divorce, rape, wife-selling, marriages of runaway slaves, and other conflicts. It brings us closer than any other source to the actual Mongolian speech of Khubilai and the great khans who succeeded him as they struggled to reconcile very different Mongol, Muslim, and Chinese legal traditions and confront the challenges of ruling a diverse polyethnic empire.

How Mongolia Matters: War, Law, and Society, edited by Morris Rossabi (2017 Brill). The essays in this volume dispel some of the myths concerning the Mongolians and other Inner Asian peoples. This remarkable volume edited by and dedicated to Morris Rossabi challenges the depictions of these mostly nomadic pastoral groups as barbaric plunderers and killers while not denying the destruction and loss of life they engendered. Several essays pioneer in consulting Mongolian and other Inner Asian rather than exclusively Chinese and Persian sources, offering new and different perspectives. Such research reveals the divisions among the Mongolians, which weakened them and led to the collapse of their Empire. Two essays dispel myths about modern Mongolia and reveal the country’s significance, even in an era of superpowers, two of which surround it. Contributors are: Christopher Atwood, Bettine Birge, Michael Brose, Pamela Crossley, Johan Elverskog, Jargalsaikhan Enkhsaikhan, Yuki Konagaya, James Millward, David Morgan, and David Robinson.

A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the National Fringes of Qing Rule by Jonathan Schlesinger (2017 Stanford University Press). In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, booming demand for natural resources transformed China and its frontiers. Historians of China have described this process in stark terms: pristine borderlands became breadbaskets. Yet Manchu and Mongolian archives reveal a different story. Well before homesteaders arrived, wild objects from the far north became part of elite fashion, and unprecedented consumption had exhausted the region's most precious resources. In A World Trimmed with Fur, Jonathan Schlesinger uses these diverse archives to reveal how Qing rule witnessed not the destruction of unspoiled environments, but their invention. Qing frontiers were never pristine in the nineteenth century—pearlers had stripped riverbeds of mussels, mushroom pickers had uprooted the steppe, and fur-bearing animals had disappeared from the forest. In response, the court turned to "purification;" it registered and arrested poachers, reformed territorial rule, and redefined the boundary between the pristine and the corrupted. Schlesinger's resulting analysis provides a framework for rethinking the global invention of nature.

L’appel du bonheur: Le partage alimentaire mongol [The call for happiness. Mongolian food sharing] by Sandrine Ruhlmann (2015 Centre d’Études Mongoles & Sibériennes Nord-Asie 5). For Mongolian people, sharing food goes far beyond merely feeding. By a set of “opening” and “closing”, for everyday life or for special events, in the family circle or with visitors, the fact of sharing food ensures the good order of social relationships. It ensures also the good order of seasonal rhythm and of human life cycle. It therefore attracts happiness to humans and their herds. Between 2000 and 2015, Sandrine Ruhlmann lived long months in the Mongolian steppe and in the city. She describes and analyses in detail the existing food system. She recognizes in this latter intermingled ideas and values inherited from Shamanism, Buddhism, and from Communist ideology. Through the meat on bone, the fermented milk, the ravioli, or the odd soleshoe-shaped pastries a way of thinking and of living is revealed. (Published in French)

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.