Subject: This Month in Mongolian Studies - September 2020

Having trouble viewing this email?  Click here to open in your browser.

August 2020
In this Issue:

ACMS Announcements 

ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events

Position Openings and Fellowships

Grants and Calls for Paper

New Resources

Other News and Events

Recent Publications

This Month in Mongolian Studies is a monthly listing of selected academic activities, resources and other material 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, News and Media References



VSS Khovsgol

We are pleased to invite you to the September Virtual Speaker Series. This panel session will be on Field Sciences in the Khövsgöl Region, with speakers William W. Fitzhugh, Olaf P. Jensen, Badamgarav (Badmaa) Dovchin, and Paula T. DePriest, and moderated by Marissa Smith.

Sep 17, Thur, 8:00 p.m. (EST)

Sep 18, Fri, 8:00 a.m. (ULAT)

Sep 17, Thur, 12:00 a.m. (GMT)

Please note that this panel session will be held on Zoom, and later uploaded to the ACMS YouTube channel. You can sign up here!

(Please note that the Zoom link will be emailed to you after you sign up.)

The Zoom participants will be able to ask questions during the Q&A session at the end, but we encourage you to also leave your question at our website's dedicated post at:



3D Scanner training

In recent years, 3D scanning has emerged as an essential tool for research, preservation, and public outreach in the fields of science, art, cultural heritage, and many others. In this training, Dr. Taylor will teach attendees how to produce, process, and share a high-resolution 3D scan/model using the publicly-available NextEngine3D desktop scanner at the Morrison Research Lab at the American Center for Mongolian Studies.

The training will be held free of charge for the public on Zoom. Interested participants are asked to join in on Sep 24, 9 am (ULAT) through the following link:

Meeting ID: 883 3287 5762

Passcode: 062547




The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) seeks an entrepreneurial Executive Director to be based in its Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia office who can lead the development of new programs and projects. The ACMS is a non-profit, non-governmental educational organization that supports the development of Mongolian Studies and academic exchanges with Inner Asia. The ACMS is a member of the Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) with funding from the US government, private foundations, and member institutions and individuals. For more information on the ACMS, please visit

The Executive Director will be responsible for the management of the ACMS Ulaanbaatar office, staff and programs, and lead the development of new programs and partnerships in Mongolia and abroad. Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will lead strategic planning and oversight of the programmatic and financial activities of the organization. The position requires an ability to work effectively with international and Mongolian academic institutions, scholars and students, international donor and aid agencies, and the public. Ideally, the Executive Director will have an advanced academic degree and experience with academic research and academic institutions in North American and Mongolia, experience with grant writing and reporting, and innovative ideas for program development and potential partnerships.

Application materials required include:

* A cover letter that summarizes your interest in the position and relevant experience

* A current CV with contact information

* A list of three references. References will only be contacted for short-listed candidates.

Please submit your application as an email attachment to:

Applications will be screened on submission. Screening of applications will begin August 1, 2020. The position will remain open and accept applications until a suitable candidate is identified.

For questions about the position, please email: 

The ACMS does not discriminate in employment on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, disability status or religion.





The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS), with funding support from the US State Department Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau and the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, seeks applicants for two short-term directed fellowships in Textile Conservation to take place in Mongolia between August 2020 and September 2021. The fellows will work with ACMS on a joint US-Mongolia textile conservation project sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Ulaanbaatar’s U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) grant titled, “Conserving and Preserving Mongolia’s Endangered Textile Traditions and Collections.”

The fellows will have the opportunity for in-depth examination and treatment of fabrics and textiles, costumes, and accessories representing Eurasian steppe cultures roughly spanning 2,000 years. Applicants must be U.S. citizens with a graduate degree in conservation from a recognized program, or have equivalent work experience, at least one year of practical experience beyond graduation, and experience with a variety of analytical instruments and digital technology.

Application materials (CV, Personal Statement, 2 Letters of Recommendation) must be received on a rolling deadline.



Online Mongolian

Learn Mongolian online with a professional tutor!

The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS) has been teaching Mongolian to researchers and students of all levels since 2002 and our instructor Dr. Tsermaa has been teaching Mongolian language for 24 years!

Wherever you are located, our online lessons are always within reach. Our veteran instructor will help you improve with a program tailored for your level of Mongolian.

To book your Skype lesson, email us at or call at +976 99170042.


ACMS Sponsored Programs and Events


Exterior signage

We are pleased to inform you that our exterior signage has been renewed with the help of a signage installation company called Ikh Effect Design. Our Ulaanbaatar office and Library are operating in normal business hours.



Panel session “Mongolian Politics” with Dr. Julian Dierkes, Dr. Judith Nordby, and Dr. Marissa Smith

August 26, 2020 (PT) 11:00 AM | August 27, 2020 (GMT+8) 2:00 PM

VSS Politics

This Virtual Speaker Series session will be on Mongolian politics, with speakers Dr. Julian Dierkes, Dr. Judith Nordby, and Sanchir Jargalsaikhan (M.A.); moderated by Dr. Marissa Smith.

The session was held in Zoom, and the recording was uploaded onto the ACMS YouTube channel (link below).

Dr. Dierkes from the University of British Columbia made a presentation titled "The Virtue of Imperfect Political Decisions", Sanchir Jargalsaikhan, Mongolian political scientist and activist, presented about "Mongolian Politics: Ideology and/or Post-Ideology?", and Dr. Judith Nordby from the University of Leeds presented about the historical context, formative dynamics and the future prospects of the Mongolian politics.




The following videos were released on the ACMS YouTube Channel in August:

- How to Make Tags for Museum Cataloguing. This bilingual tutorial was dedicated to museums in Mongolia by ACMS/National Museum of Mongolia Barcoding Project volunteer intern Amanda Muir.

- Perspectives on Indigenous Architecture | Joar Nango (2014). (For best results, please watch in 1080p.) This old Speaker Series video has been renewed and upscaled by an open-source neural-network video enhancer named "video2x," available on GitHub. The upscaling process has been on hold for logistical reasons and will be continued in October.


Position Openings and Fellowships


Tony Whitten (1953–2017) was an inspirational conservationist who championed biodiversity across Asia and beyond, working as Senior Biodiversity Specialist at the World Bank and more recently as Director of Fauna and Flora International’s Asia-Pacific programme. Alongside helping run conservation projects across Asia Tony did world-class work on the discovery and conservation of limestone cave invertebrates – saving many species from obliteration by the region’s rapidly expanding cement industry, establishing the IUCN Cave Invertebrate Specialist Group, and having no fewer than 33 new species named in his honor. As a tribute to him, the Cambridge Conservation Initiative is delighted to invite applications for this award for early-career conservationists and biodiversity researchers from East and South-east Asia.

The Award is open to those under the age of 35 working on any area of conservation or of field biology within this region.  A selection panel has been established by Tony’s family.  Awards will be made for specific assistance to the ongoing work of successful applicants.  The panel is particularly interested in hearing about work on the overlooked species and habitats that Tony was most passionate about – such as caves and karst ecosystems, and little-studied invertebrates and fishes – but all applications are welcome, regardless of where in the region and on what aspects of conservation or field biology the work is focused.  The fund is able to provide five awards of £2,000 each in late 2020, with a further round in 2021. Applicants should be nationals of Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste or Vietnam.

Please download an application form here: The Tony Whitten Conservation Award application form 2020.  The application deadline is midnight (GMT) on 1 November 2020. Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by the end of 2020.



The Department of Transnational Asian Studies at Rice University in Houston, Texas invites applications for two full-time tenure-track positions. Both will be named chairs: the Gragg Professor of Transnational Asian Studies (Assistant or Associate Professor) and the TT and WF Chao Professor of Transnational Asian Studies (Assistant Professor). 

Responsibilities include 1) teaching and mentoring undergraduate and graduate students, 2) active research and publication in area of specialization, and 3) service to the department, the university and the field. 

The application process is entirely web-based. Submit a letter of application, full CV, the names of three references, a writing sample, and evidence of teaching excellence by December 1, 2020.  Further publications may be requested at a later date. Applications are accepted only through Rice University’s electronic system, and complete instructions are available at Specific questions may be sent to Prof. Lisa Balabanlilar, Chair of the Department of Transnational Asian Studies, at




The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is announcing the opening of its 2021-2022 Fellowship competition. The Center awards academic year residential fellowships to scholars, practitioners, journalists, and public intellectuals from any country with outstanding project proposals on global issues. Within this framework, the Center supports projects that intersect with contemporary policy issues and provide the historical and/or cultural context for some of today’s significant public policy debates. Applicants must hold a doctorate or have equivalent professional experience.

Fellows are provided stipends, private windowed offices, Library of Congress loan privileges, and part-time research assistants.

The Center encourages applicants to apply online. Please apply online at You may also contact the Scholars and Academic Relations Office at or call (202) 691-4170 for more information.

Application deadline: October 1, 2020


Grants and Call for Papers



Digital magazine and arm the American Oriental Society, The Digital Orientalist, is happy to announce its annual open call for editors and contributors. As we continue to expand our publication and readership, we are also looking to enter into new fields and as such we are eagerly looking for several new editors for the next academic year (2020-2021) from the following (or related) fields:


    African Studies.

    Central Asian Studies.

    Indian Studies.

    Korean Studies.

    Middle Eastern Studies.

    Mongolian Studies.


    South East Asian Studies.

    Oceania or Pacific Island Studies.

    Persia or Iranian Studies.

These editorial positions will be particularly attractive to graduate students and early career researchers, but are also open to senior academics. Editors will be expected to contribute 5-6 short posts (up to 1,000 words each) between September 2020 and June 2021. In addition to new editors, we are also looking for people who are able to contribute guest posts or series of guests posts on the Digital Humanities in General, Islamic Studies, Japanology, Syriac Studies or any of the above noted fields. If you have something interesting to say and you wish to reach an expanding global audience then do not hesitate to get in contact.


Interested parties should send a CV to Dr. James Harry Morris MTheol, PhD, FRAS (University of Tsukuba) at



Vernon Press invites book proposals for edited volumes, co-authored books and single-author monographs on East Asian Studies, with an interdisciplinary outlook.

Generally described as the subregion in Asia comprised by North Korea, South Korea, Japan, China, Macao, Mongolia, Hong Kong, and China, East Asia has always fascinated the Western world. The history, culture, art, and literature—to name but a few—of this area have been consistently studied in academic circles for many generations, frequently in departments called East Asian Languages and Cultures (EALC). However, and in recent decades, new outlooks have emerged to study these aspects and many others related to East Asia, especially in the wake of Edward Said’s essential Orientalism (1978). The interest in this region and its study can also be observed by the increasing number of East Asian Studies programmes in universities all around the world.

This series will be of interest to scholars and students as well as independent researchers with an interest in East Asian studies from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Possible contributions include (but are not limited to):

  • Literary interpretations of East Asian countries
  • Cultural studies on the region
  • East Asian American literary studies
  • East Asian representation in media
  • Rediscovering and rewriting East Asian history
  • Forgotten East Asian women
  • Sociological studies on the region
  • East Asian archaeology
  • How to submit your proposal

Please submit one-page monograph proposals to or, including a summary, a short biographical note and (if applicable) a list of similar titles. Proposals that treat other topics of relevance to the series in Irish Studies are also welcome. More information on what we look for in a proposal is available on our website. 

New Resources

Digital collections related to Mongolia we discovered in August, 2020:

  • "Online Library of Mongolian Literature" ( This website has a repository of classic literary works, both in English and Mongolian. (Muzo is the abbreviation of Mongolyn Uran Zohiol Online.)Supported by Open Society Foundations, the website has the books available in a PDF preview format. 

Selected scholarly papers published in August, 2020:




Image courtesy of

As the danger of life-threatening Covid-19 has subsided, Mongols in Inner Mongolia, a region of northern China, have faced a new threat: losing their bilingual schools.

In the words of a community member: “in Spring we were afraid that we would die from Covid-19, now Autumn comes and we are afraid that we may become extinct”.




Mongol Bichig petition

Image courtesy of Made in China Journal 

China today is in the midst of closing out a three-quarters of a century experiment. That experiment was in minority-language education for certain select ethnic groups: Mongols, Uyghurs, Tibetans, Kazakhs, and Koreans.

A heritage of both China’s decentralised past and the Soviet model, minority-language education is now being replaced by a new model of ‘bilingual education’ in which Chinese is the language of instruction and minority languages are at most a topic of instruction, one hour a day.

This summer, the new model was brought to Inner Mongolia where it has sparked perhaps the largest wave of protest in almost three decades.





Inner Mongolian

Image courtesy of BBC

Ethnic Mongolians in northern China have staged rare rallies against measures to reduce teaching in the Mongolian language in favour of Chinese.

As schools began a new term on Tuesday some parents held children back in protest at the policy. Under the rules, three core subjects in Inner Mongolia will gradually be taught in Mandarin, China's official language.

Many ethnic Mongolians view the move as a threat to their cultural identity.



Interesting Links -- A variety of articles and content related to Mongolia were posted during July 2020. Here are some of the more notable ones:

Recent Books

Along the Silk Roads in Mongol Eurasia: Generals, Merchants, Intellectuals, by Michal Biran (Ed.), Jonathan Brack (Ed.), Francesca Fiaschetti (Ed.)360 pages; $29.95 (University of California Press, 2020)

Along the Silk Roads in Mongol Eurasia

During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Chinggis Khan and his heirs established the largest contiguous empire in the history of the world, extending from Korea to Hungary and from Iraq, Tibet, and Burma to Siberia. Ruling over roughly two thirds of the Old World, the Mongol Empire enabled people, ideas, and objects to traverse immense geographical and cultural boundaries. Along the Silk Roads in Mongol Eurasia reveals the individual stories of three key groups of people—military commanders, merchants, and intellectuals—from across Eurasia. These annotated biographies bring to the fore a compelling picture of the Mongol Empire from a wide range of historical sources in multiple languages, providing important insights into a period unique for its rapid and far-reaching transformations.

Read together or separately, they offer the perfect starting point for any discussion of the Mongol Empire’s impact on China, the Muslim world, and the West and illustrate the scale, diversity, and creativity of the cross-cultural exchange along the continental and maritime Silk Roads.

Michal Biran teaches Inner Asian, Chinese, and Islamic history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Jonathan Brack teaches Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

Francesca Fiaschetti teaches Inner and East Asian History at the University of Vienna.


Subjective Lives and Economic Transformations in Mongolia, by Rebecca M. Empson; 178 pages; £20 (UCL Press, 2020)

Subjective Lives and Economic Transformations in Mongolia

Almost 10 years ago the mineral-rich country of Mongolia experienced very rapid economic growth, fuelled by China’s need for coal and copper. New subjects, buildings, and businesses flourished, and future dreams were imagined and hoped for. This period of growth is, however, now over. Mongolia is instead facing high levels of public and private debt, conflicts over land and sovereignty, and a changed political climate that threatens its fragile democratic institutions.

Subjective Lives and Economic Transformations in Mongolia details this complex story through the intimate lives of five women. Building on long-term friendships, which span over 20 years, Rebecca documents their personal journeys in an ever-shifting landscape. She reveals how these women use experiences of living a ‘life in the gap’ to survive the hard reality between desired outcomes and their actual daily lives. In doing so, she offers a completely different picture from that presented by economists and statisticians of what it is like to live in this fluctuating extractive economy.

Rebecca M. Empson is Professor of Anthropology at UCL. Alongside teaching in the Department of Anthropology, her research has focused on personhood, ownership, memory and material culture (Harnessing Fortune, 2011), and forms of temporary possession in the global economy (Cultural Anthropology, 2019).



Politics and Literature in Mongolia (1921-1948), by Simon Wickhamsmith; 360 pages; €115 (Amsterdam University Press, 2020)

Politics and Literature in Mongolia (1921-1948)

This study investigates the relationship between literature and politics during Mongolia's early revolutionary period. Between the 1921 socialist revolution and the first Writers' Congress, held in April 1948, the literary community constituted a key resource in the formation and implementation of policy. At the same time, debates within the party, discontent among the population, and questions of religion and tradition led to personal and ideological conflict among the intelligentsia and, in many cases, to trials and executions. Using primary texts, many of them translated into English for the first time, Simon Wickhamsmith shows the role played by the literary arts - poetry, fiction and drama - in the complex development of the "new society," helping to bring Mongolia's nomadic herding population into the utopia of equality, industrial progress and social well-being promised by the Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party.

Simon Wickhamsmith is a scholar and translator of modern Mongolian literature. He teaches in the Writing Program and the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at Rutgers University.


Beyond the Steppe Frontier: A History of the Sino-Russian Border, by Sören Urbansky; 392 pages; $39.95 (Princeton University Press, 2020)

Beyond the Steppe Frontier: A History of the Sino-Russian Border

The Sino-Russian border, once the world’s longest land border, has received scant attention in histories about the margins of empires. Beyond the Steppe Frontier rectifies this by exploring the demarcation’s remarkable transformation—from a vaguely marked frontier in the seventeenth century to its twentieth-century incarnation as a tightly patrolled barrier girded by watchtowers, barbed wire, and border guards. Through the perspectives of locals, including railroad employees, herdsmen, and smugglers from both sides, Sören Urbansky explores the daily life of communities and their entanglements with transnational and global flows of people, commodities, and ideas. Urbansky challenges top-down interpretations by stressing the significance of the local population in supporting, and undermining, border making.

Sören Urbansky is a research fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, DC. He is the author of Kolonialer Wettstreit: Russland, China, Japan und die Ostchinesische Eisenbahn.


The State, Popular Mobilisation and Gold Mining in Mongolia, by Dulam Bumochir; 180 pages; FREE (UCL Press, 2020)

State Popular Mobilisation and Gold Mining in Mongolia

Mongolia's mining sector, with its environmental and social costs, has been the subject of prolonged and heated debate. This debate has often cast the country as either a victim of the 'resource curse' or guilty of 'resource nationalism'.

In this book, Dulam Bumochir aims to avoid the pitfalls of this debate by adopting an alternative theoretical approach. He focuses on the indigenous representations of nature, environment, economy, state and sovereignty that have triggered nationalist and statist responses to the mining boom. In doing so, he explores the ways in which these responses have shaped the apparently 'neoliberal' policies of twenty-first century Mongolia, and the economy that has emerged from them, in the face of competing mining companies, protest movements, international donor organisations, economic downturn, and local and central government policies.

Applying rich ethnography to a nuanced and complex picture, Bumochir's analysis is essential reading for students and researchers studying the environmental and mining, especially in Central and North East Asia and the post-Soviet regions, and also for readers interested in the relationship between neoliberalism, nationalism, environmentalism and the state.

Dulam Bumochir completed his PhD in Philology at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in 2000, and in Social Anthropology at Cambridge University in 2006. He has been conducting research on a wide range of topics, exploring folk and shamanic practices, rituals and chants, and tracing the historical construction of the Mongolian concepts of shamanism and shamanic religion. In work on Qinghai, in north-western China, he looked at ethnic politics and the power of respect in the social production of identity, politics and the state.


Shaping Urban Futures in Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar, Dynamic Ownership and Economic Flux, by Rebekah Plueckhahn; 190 pages; FREE (UCL Press, 2020)


What can the generative processes of dynamic ownership reveal about how the urban is experienced, understood and made in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia? Shaping Urban Futures in Mongolia provides an ethnography of actions, strategies and techniques that form part of how residents precede and underwrite the owning of real estate property – including apartments and land – in a rapidly changing city. In doing so, it charts the types of visions of the future and perceptions of the urban form that are emerging within Ulaanbaatar following a period of investment, urban growth and subsequent economic fluctuation in Mongolia’s extractive economy since the late 2000s.

Following the way that people discuss the ethics of urban change, emerging urban political subjectivities and the seeking of ‘quality’, Plueckhahn explores how conceptualisations of growth, multiplication, and the portioning of wholes influence residents’ interactions with Ulaanbaatar’s urban landscape. Shaping Urban Futures in Mongolia combines a study of changing postsocialist forms of ownership with a study of the lived experience of recent investment-fuelled urban growth within the Asia region. Examining ownership in Mongolia’s capital reveals how residents attempt to understand and make visible the hidden intricacies of this changing landscape.

Rebekah Plueckhahn is Research Associate in the Anthropology Department at UCL. Trained in anthropology, as well as ethnomusicology and history, Rebekah has conducted research in Mongolia since 2008, researching subjectivity, ethics, economy, capitalism, urbanism, performance, ownership, music and postsocialist cultural practice. Her latest research interests include the making of urban forms in Mongolia, the ways urbanism intersects with financialisation and the ways that understanding the urban in Mongolia can contribute to urban theory more generally. Rebekah obtained her PhD from the Australian National University. Her past awards include the 2014 Article Prize from the Australian Anthropological Society (AAS).


Young Mongols: Forging Democracy in the Wild, Wild East,  by Aubre Menarndt; Pre-order link (Penguin, 2020)

Young Mongols

In 1990, Mongolia’s youth-led revolution threw off the Soviet yoke, ushering in multi­party democracy. Thirty years later, the country’s youth are still leading Mongolia’s democratic development.

This powerful, inclusive book introduces readers to modern Mongolia through the stories of young leaders fighting to make their country a better, more democratic place. Its intersectional perspective explores the complexity of Mongolia today: the urban planning and pollution issues that plague the capital city of Ulaanbaatar; the struggles of women, the LGBTQIA population, people with disabilities, and ethnic minorities to claim their equitable places in society; the challenge of providing education in the world’s least densely-populated country to prepare the workforce of tomorrow; and how to fairly divide the spoils of the country’s vast mineral resource wealth.

This rising generation of Mongolians is already wielding real power and shaping their country's future. Their work will determine whether the country is able to overcome its development and democratization challenges, its relationship to the world, and who the winners (and losers) will be in Mongolian society.

Aubrey Menarndt lived in Mongolia as a Luce Scholar from 2015 to 2016. She’s worked on democracy and governance issues in Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Central America, and the United States.

Aubrey is an expert on political transitions, elections, and democracy. She’s been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Politico, the South China Morning Post, and more.

Aubrey earned an MPhil in Politics from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor’s degree from Smith College. She is a Critical Language Scholar (Russian) and a Truman National Security Project Fellow. Young Mongols is her first book.