Seminar – 7 March – Uradyn Bulag

February 27th, 2017 by anna.c


Tuesday 7  March 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Uradyn Bulag

University of Cambridge

Visible and Invisible ‘Masters’ of Ethnic Regional Autonomy in China

China is now bracing itself  for the 70th anniversary of its first provincial level autonomous region, Inner Mongolia, founded on the 1st of May 1947. While there will be no shortage of celebration of achievements, I propose that the anniversary provides an opportune moment to examine the nature of China’s ‘nationality regional autonomy’ system. Who will host the congratulatory delegations from the national capital and other provinces and autonomous regions? This is a key question because the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is officially defined as a multinational autonomous region with the Mongols as the core/master (zhuti) nationality, and the Han Chinese as the majority (duoshu) nationality. While the tension between the two major entities has been resolved through making one (Mongol) visible and the other (Han Chinese) invisible, we now see open calls for reversing the order, so as to make the majority Han Chinese commensurate with the principle of majoritarian democracy within the autonomous region and their status as the core/master nationality of China at large. In this regard, I will examine two cases of hosting, one by Han Chinese leaders at the national level hosting minority leaders in the early 1950s, and the other by Mongol leaders hosting Han Chinese intellectuals in the early 1960s. These cases show that inter-ethnic relationship within an autonomous area, or between an autonomous nationality and the Chinese central state has become as much one of host-guest relationship as one of master-slave relationship.  This conflation suggests that sovereignty (zhuquan, lit. master’s right), both ‘national sovereignty’ in relation to the margin of the state, and ‘ethnic sovereignty’ in relation to other groups within an autonomous area, imply conquest and counter-conquest.

Seminar – 28 February – Charles Kennel

February 24th, 2017 by anna.c

This year MIASU is hosting the Climate Histories Group events which cover environmental issues of both global and regional interest.

It is with great pleasure that we welcome you to the new seminar series from the Climate Histories Group, following-on from our many years at CRASSH. We are delighted to welcome back for our first seminar Charlie Kennel: Visiting Research Fellow, Centre for Science and Policy, Distinguished Visiting Scholar, Christ’s College, and Director Emeritus, Vice-Chancellor, and Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego

He will present a talk as part of our series on current political and scientific debates on climate change entitled: “Climate – The Enigma Wrapped Inside a Mystery”

This will include discussion from Hildegard Diemberger (Social Anthropology, MIASU) and Richard Fraser (MIASU).


Tuesday 28 February 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Charlie Kennel

University of California

Climate – The Enigma Wrapped Inside a Mystery

Lunchtime Seminar – 22 February – Telo Tulku Rinpoche, the Shajin (Supreme) Lama of Kalmykia

February 13th, 2017 by anna.c

A lunchtime seminar will be held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Wednesday 22 February 2017, 12.30–1.30

All welcome

Telo Tulku Rinpoche

The Shajin (Supreme) Lama of Kalmykia

The Revival of Buddhism in Russia

Telo Tulku Rinpoche (secular name Erdne Ombadykow) is the Buddhist spiritual leader of the Kalmyks. Born in 1972 in Philadelphia, US, into a Kalmyk immigrant family, at the age of seven he was sent to study Buddhism at the Drepung Gomang monastery in South India. In 1992 he was invited to the Republic of Kalmykia, south-west Russia, to become the Shajin (Supreme) Lama of the Kalmyk people, a position he occupies to this day.

Known as ‘the only Buddhist nation in Europe’, the Kalmyks are a people of Oirat-Mongol origin who settled in the territory of today’s Kalmykia in the Lower Volga region at the beginning of the 17th century after a long migration from Dzungaria (today corresponding to the northern half of China’s Xinjiang region, the western part of Mongolia, and eastern Kazakhstan). In 1771 with the increasing oppression of the tsarist government more than half of the Kalmyk population returned to their homeland in Dzungaria, an event which constitutes the last long-distance nomadic migration in world history. Those who remained in the Volga region were drafted by the Russian government to fight various wars of conquest, and were exiled to Siberia and Central Asia in toto from 1943 to 1957 charged with the crime of betraying the Soviet motherland. With Buddhism banned and Kalmyk culture devalued during the Soviet period, Kalmyks forgot many aspects of their culture and language. One aspect of Kalmyk culture that has revived since the end of the Soviet Union is Buddhism, in which the role of the Shajin Lama is of paramount importance.

Link to poster here

Seminar – 21 February – Loretta Kim

February 9th, 2017 by anna.c

Tuesday 21 February 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Loretta Kim

University of Hong Kong

Imagining Maps in Words: A Comparative Analysis of Two Late Nineteenth Century Geographies of the Amur River Region

In the present century, humans can create maps that depict real-time topographical and demographic features of many places on Earth. The use of such technologies has changed geography as an academic discipline and as an aspect of social life. Expectations regarding the accuracy and authenticity of a map have increased for a range of functions from planning military strategy to plotting routes for everyday transportation. Through a close reading and comparison of Zou Daijun’s Zhong E Jieji (Notes about the Sino-Russian Border) and Tu Ji’s Heilongjiang Yutu Shuo (An Illustrated Geography of Heilongjiang), this talk reconsiders the value of maps designed with as much imagination as scientific knowledge, and how pictoral representations paired with written descriptions could inform readers of both physical and cultural traits of the featured areas.

Lunchtime Seminar – 8 February – Yudru Tsomu

February 3rd, 2017 by anna.c

A lunchtime seminar will be held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Wednesday 8 February 2017, 12.30–1.30

All welcome

Yudru Tsomu

Center for Tibetan Studies, Sichuan University

Guozhuang Trading Houses and Tibetan Middlemen in Dartsedo, the Shanghai of Tibet

Within the field of Sino-Tibetan frontier studies, there is very little in-depth scholarly discussion about commerce, trade, and the people who facilitated these activities across the Sino-Tibetan border; studies in English are particularly sparse. This article aims to contribute to a wider and deeper understanding of the nature of trade on the Sino-Tibetan frontier and the role of women as facilitators by looking at some of the actual “dealmakers.” In the border town of Dartsedo—the “Shanghai of Tibet”—guozhuang (trading houses, Tib. achak khapa) not only evolved into convenient spaces for travelers to come to rest, but also were spaces of flux. It was in these trading houses that traditional notions of gender, class, and hierarchy were called into question and played out in unexpected ways. Women came to dominate the guozhuang because the work was likened to managing a household and therefore viewed as a lower-status occupation. This notion was reinforced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Chinese values and customs were introduced into the local society through frequent intermarriages between Han and Tibetan inhabitants in Dartsedo.