The MIASU is very sad to announce the death of its co-founder, Professor Urgunge Onon, who passed away peacefully in December 2015. The author of many books and articles on Mongolia, including a well known translation of the Secret History of the Mongols, Professor Onon was also the documenter of the way of life and shamanism of his own people, the Daur Mongols. Professor Onon was an ardent upholder of Mongolian culture. He gave enormously generously of his time and resources to initiate the MIASU in Cambridge together with Caroline Humphrey in 1986. His vision, which we have tried our best to continue, was to found a vibrant institution that would be ongoing in time: ‘Do not forgot the next generations,’ he used to say. We aim to honour his memory at an event later this year.
Professor Onon is pictured below at the Unit’s 20th anniversary celebration in 2006.
Please note there is a change to the title of this talk:
Tuesday 16 February 2016
4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room
University College London
Enumerative Stalling and the Precarious Production of Value in Mongolia
Drawing on long-term fieldwork in a rural district of central Mongolia, I explore how a variety of enumerative practices establish creative moments of ‘temporal stalling’ from which a sense of value can emerge. Focusing on the production of pastoral value reveals that it is also intimately related to the production of an authoritative sense of male personhood. Exploring this dual process, I draw out how a sense of value – how people “assess the importance of what they do” (Graeber 2001)– is, in the final analysis, highly precarious and ultimately irreducible to encompassment through processes of enumeration.
The project website, kalmykheritage.socanth.cam.ac.uk
has now been updated with many more videos, essays and
photographic images of Kalmyk and Oirat cultural heritage.
Tuesday 2 February 2016
4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room
Higher School of Economics, Moscow
Russia for Central Asia and China: Struggling for National Identity and Milestones of Mutual Misperception
There is an obvious historical dilemma in the Russian mind regarding Central and East Asia. Central Asia is regarded as an historical subordinate with a high level of interdependence and China is regarded as an economic rival, political challenger and at the same time the best strategic partner and potential investor. While Russia tries to find its new place in the ‘division of labour’ in Asia and to get rid of ‘hydrocarbons damnation’, the perception of these regions has become more emotional than rational and has challenged Russia’s national identity. All of these give birth to the new wave of discussions about the nature of Russian culture, its civilizational allies and position in Asia. The new economic and political situation shaped the old historical trends for particularization of Russian, Chinese and Central Asian identities which brought about the psychological and emotional divorce between Russia on one side and Central Asia, Mongolia and China on the other side. Both sides are particularly challenged in their ability to understand someone else’s point of view because they are part of a culture that encourages strong protection of national identity. And both sides do not really understand the signals that they send to each other and this problem has created negative emotional experiences and resentments between countries. More people suggest that China is in a potential risk for Russia’s future and represents the ‘other’ in a cultural sense. At the same time the rival ‘West’ is regarded as culturally ‘the same’ but without deeper understanding of Russian peculiarities.
We will look to this problem from a cultural point of view taking into consideration several aspects, such as personal insight and perception, public opinion, economic possibilities and new trends according to the latest surveys of 2015 in different regions of Russia. We will discuss the potential limits of dialogue and the possibility for Russia of a real ‘turning to the East’.
Please see below for this term’s programme which begins on Tuesday January 19 2016.
Research Seminars are held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RF from 4.30–6.00