Subject: This Month in Mongolian Studies - September 2017

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September 2017
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

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
Job Opening: Resident Director (Acting), American Center for Mongolian Studies, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) is seeking a Resident Director (Acting) for its Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia office. The ACMS Resident Director is responsible for the management of the ACMS Ulaanbaatar office, staff and programs, and assists with the development of new programs, partners and funding sources. The position requires an ability to work effectively with international and Mongolian academic institutions, scholars and students, diplomatic staff, international donor and aid agencies, and the business sector. Experience working or studying in Mongolia or Inner Asia is required. The position is salaried and approx. 50-60% time. Ideally the candidate will be able to start work by Oct 1, 2017. Screening of candidates and interviews will begin on September 15, 2017. For more information about requirements and responsibilities, see post on the ACMS website.
ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events
Speaker Series:

Paul Mills - “Who Wins From Mining in Mongolia”

5:30 PM, Tuesday September 5th, 2017, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

Clearly mining is a very important industry in Mongolia, but how much is it really contributing to addressing some of Mongolia’s often self-evident social problems? How can Mongolia get best returns from its mines? How can Mongolia best manage those returns when even the best mines close? And how effective will mine reclamation efforts prove in the long run? These questions are relevant to Mongolia today and into the future.

Paul Mills is undertaking a Ph.D in history at the University of New England examining social and economic change in Mongolia, and he is a Visiting Research Fellow at the American Centre for Mongolian Studies in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia. His Ph.D. examines mining industry development in Mongolia, and also write journal and magazine articles on mining issues.

Paweł Szczap - “Ulaanbaatar – the ugly duckling of Mongolian Studies”

5:30 PM, Tuesday September 12th, 2017, American Corner, Ulaanbaatar public library

For many Mongolians and visitors alike today’s Ulaanbaatar remains somewhat of a stain on the otherwise appealing image Mongolia. Home to half of the country’s population and the center of many crucial economic, political, social as well as cultural developments the city de facto forms a reality both different and inseparable from the rest of Mongolia. Yet, as a habitat in stark opposition to the traditional Mongolian milieu Ulaanbaatar is sometimes neglected as a proper research area even by the Mongolian Studies community. Many important gaps in the bulk of Ulaanbaatar-related research remain to be filled. Drawing on several research examples and interests this talk will explore the possible importance of Ulaanbaatar to the general field of Mongolian Studies as well as point to specific problems crucial for further developing this field in statu nascendi.

Paweł Szczap is a PhD student at the University of Warsaw investigating modern social phenomena from a cultural and linguistic-oriented point of view. His PhD research concentrates on Ulaanbaatar toponyms. Before shifting his main research interest towards Ulaanbaatar he has dealt with topics like nationalist discourse in Mongolia and the impact of mining on Mongolian culture. He is currently developing the Ulaanbaatar Studies project ( and was also the author of the most recent Mongolia Field Note "Ulaanbaatar Studies and the Pursuit of Knowledge in the City Streets"

Speaker Series events Co-Sponsored by the American Cultural and Information Center, Ulaanbaatar
New Books Acquired for the ACMS Library
  • Birge, Bettine. Marriage and the Law in the Age of Khubilai Khan (2017 Harvard University Press)

  • Rossabi, Morris (Ed). How Mongolia Matters: War, Law, and Society. (2017 Brill)

  • Ruhlmann, Sandrine. L’appel du bonheur: Le partage alimentaire mongol [The call for happiness. Mongolian food sharing.] (2015 Centre d’Études Mongoles & Sibériennes Nord-Asie 5)

  • Schlesinger, Jonathan. A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the National Fringes of Qing Rule (2017 Stanford University Press)
Research Fellowships, Scholarships and Grants
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
Events in the United States:

Mongolian Buddhism Conference, September 28-30, 2017, UC-Berkeley. This conference explores the philosophies, texts, arts, and practices of Mongolian Buddhism. As Carolingians did with Christianity and Abbasids for Islam, Mongols have determined the history of Buddhism. During the Yuan dynasty their tutelage afforded the Buddhist community unprecedented means. Their grace tolerated venerations of Buddha that were of nothing but the finest quality. And their persuasions and predilections brought favor to certain schools and teachings leaving others to decline. During the period after having been expelled from China but before they would concede the Yuan dynasty, the predicament of one of their lords led to the ascendancy of the Gelugpa School and the creation of the Dalai Lama as an institution. And after their submission under the Qing dynasty they acted as intermediaries between Manchus and Tibetans to help promulgate a Gelugpa-Qing empire. Over time, as with every other nation in the Gelugpa fold—in bold defiance of logic’s law of the excluded middle—they became part and parcel of a greater Gelugpa world order and their own world order at the same time. As a world unto themselves, they forged their own brand of the Yellow Dominion and, making it strong, saw aspects of it come to be an influence abroad. Some twenty-five years ago, after three generations of repression, the fall of communism left a void for Buddhism to return. Yet the residual of communism’s modern understanding of religion has Mongols uncertain over what the role of Buddhism should be. Today, with world order foundering for loss of the meaning of religion, Mongols are in a position once again to determine the history of Buddhism. Speakers include: Agata BAREJA-STARZYNSKA, Isabelle CHARLEUX, Jacob DALTON, Hildegard Diemberger, Johan ELVERSKOG, Matthew KING, ErdeneBaatar ERDENE-OCHIR, Weirong SHEN, Uranchimeg TSULTEM, and Vesna WALLACE. For more information, visit the Conference event page.

Registration is now open for
2017 Mid-Atlantic Region Association for Asian Studies Conference "Mobility, Technology and the Environment in Asia"
, October 6-8, 2017, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA. The contemporary development of new technologies and the rapid pace of mobility of people and products have an impact on cultures, societies, and the environment. This conference promotes a discussion of Asia within the broader context of mobility and technology, and the environmental impact of these. Registration is now open. A luncheon keynote address will be delivered by Dr. Laurel Kendall, a past AAS President (2016-17), who is Chair of the Anthropology Division at the American Museum of Natural History and Curator of Asian Ethnographic Collections.  Dr. Kendall is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Weatherhead East Asian Institute, Columbia University. This year’s recipient of the Distinguished Asianist Award is Dr. Victor Mair, a Professor of Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Mair will deliver a keynote lecture during the annual banquet entitled, “The Domestication of Tea and its Spread as a Steeped Beverage." More information on the MAR/AAS conference and registration information is available at (click on “Conferences”). On Sunday, October 8 there will be a symposium on “Education and the Uyghur Diaspora” held in conjunction with the MAR/AAS conference. That one-day event will be held From 8:00 am to 4:00 pm including topics of History of Uyghur Education, Language and Cultural Transmission for Uyghurs Living Abroad, and Uyghur Identity and Uyghur Language Education. For more information contact Rebecca Clothey.

Attention K-12 teachers: Teaching Asia Workshop "Mobility, Technology and the Environment in Asia", Oct 6, 2017, Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, 9am-3:30pm. Globalization is a contemporary trend that has resulted in increased interconnectivity between people and places and is visible through technological developments. The development of new technologies and the rapid pace of mobility of people and products have an impact on cultures, societies, and the environment. In this workshop, participants will learn about the movement of people and technologies, and their environmental impact from experts at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University and through examples from the Academy’s Asia collection. Environmental change in Mongolia will be one of the themes. More information can be found at the MARAAS website.

Mongolia-focused panels at the Central Eurasian Studies Society annual conference, University of Washington (Seattle), Oct. 5-8, 2017. For more information about this conference, including full program and registration information, visit the conference website.

  • Thurs. Oct. 5th (History-03 Session 2): Source Analysis for the Mongol Empire. Chair: Timothy May, Discussant: Daniel Waugh. Speakers: Paul Buell “Arabic Medicine in the Mongol World: Huihui Yaofang , Muslim Medicinal Recipes,” Donald Ostrowski “Authorship Issues in the Controversy over the Letters of Rashid al-Din,” Christopher Eirkson,“ Diplomatic Correspondence in the Song-Yuan-Ming Transition, 1000-1425 CE”
  • Thurs. Oct. 5th (Poltics—01 Session 2): Mongolia’s Engagement in Central Eurasia: Geopolitics, Energy, Transportation and Natural Resources. Chair: Robert Bedeski, Discussant: TBD. Speakers: Mendee Jargalsaikhan “Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan in Renewed Geopolitical Settings,” Marissa Smith “Three Projects of One Belt One Road’s Mongolia/Russia/China Economic Corridor and Three Bilateral Relationships,” Julian Dierkes “The Variety of Governance Models in Mongolia’s Resource Industry”
  • Fri. Oct. 6th (History-06 Session 4): Administration and Politics in the Mongol Empire. Chair: Daniel Waugh, Discussant: Timothy May. Speakers: Jesse Sloane “Balancing Qa’ans and Warlords in the Promotion of Religious Confucianism in 13th Century North China,” Anne Broadbridge “The Linked Deaths of Grand Khan Gedei and His Sister, Al Altan, Queen of the Uighurs: What Explanations Can Be Found?” Michael Hope “From Herat to Haleb: A Comparative Analaysis of Population Displacement and Urban Revival After the Mongol Conquests, ”Michael Brose “Personnel and Policy in the Yuan Southern Censorate Bureau”
  • Sat. Oct. 7th (Regional Studies-06 Session 8): Mongolia and China. Chair: TBD, Discussant: Darren Byler. Speakers: Sandrine Emmanuelle Catris “The Cultural Revolution and the ‘Xinjiang Wenti’: The Beijing Narrative,” Sureyya Yigit “Mongolian Transition: The Normative Role of the European Union,” Sharad Soni “Reassessing Mongolian Foreign Policy amidst Quest for ‘Permanent Neutrality’”

Recent Publications

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.

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.