Seminar – 23 January – Marissa Smith

January 8th, 2018 by anna.c


Tuesday 23 January 2018

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Marissa Smith

De Anza College, Cupertino, California

Making a Master: Monumental Construction on a Pasture of Cultural Production

Recent scholarship on subnational identity, territoriality, and power in Inner Asia has emphasized its basis in forms of asymmetrical relation (“ruler” and “subject,” “owner” and “custodian,” “patron” and “client,” “host” and “guest,” etc.) spreading from supernatural masters of the land (Mng. gazriin ezed) to individual humans, mediated by heads of state, sangha, and household heads. In many contexts, these distinct institutions and individuals situate relations among themselves in terms of sharing a local “pasture” (Mng. nutag) under the power of a supernatural master. How is this “pasture” like a Bourdieusian “field” — how is the identity of these common masters, and the form of the pasture upon which institutions and persons negotiate the rules governing their relations, determined?

This talk describes the years-long process of planning, construction, remodeling, awakening, and reawakening of a monumental Buddha (Burkhan Bagsh) in Erdenet, Mongolia. Other monumental statuary projects of the postsocialist period, including Kh. Battulga’s Chinggis Khaan complex and Guru Deva Rinpoche’s Burkhan Bagsh in Ulaanbaatar, have been associated with a single human person’s claims to exemplarship and assertion of the singular importance of an institution these individual masters are reforming. The construction of the Erdenet Burkhan Bagsh, however, has involved local and national-level Buddhist institutions, the city’s coeval mining corporation, and the office of the provincial governor appointed by the national government. These institutions have often been in open conflict with one another and variously patronized by different demographics resident in Erdenet. However, during the process of building the Burkhan Bagsh divisions along lines of territorialized ethnic (undesten) identity, religious practice, political party affiliation, and natural resource management have been maintained, various masters of the land and ties to other pastures undisturbed, and local coherence in terms of national heritage, environmental responsibility, and international belonging articulated.


Lent Term – Seminar Programme

December 19th, 2017 by anna.c

Please see below for this term’s programme which begins on Tuesday January 23 2018.

Research Seminars are held in the Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge, CB2 3RF from 4.30–6.00

LENT 2018

Lunchtime Seminar – 21 November – Natsagnyam Namkhai

November 16th, 2017 by anna.c

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

Tuesday 21 November 2017, 1.00–2.00

All welcome

Natsagnyam Namkhai

Independent Researcher

Climate Chaos = Capitalism: 
A Mathematical Solution to the Global Political System and Climate Chaos

The presenter argues that climate chaos is a product of what he calls the ‘Flat Political System’ (FPS). He claims that FPS generates ‘Global Political Corruption’ (GPC) which is the fundamental cause for climate chaos. The presenter offers a new political and economic systems theory with a high potential to minimize climate chaos. He believes that the present global climate chaos, Brexit and massive emigration are bugs that can potentially be fixed by the new theory he is developing.


Natsagnyam Namkhai is an independent Embedded Software Developer and electronic and electrical engineer graduate from the institute of Science & Technology, University of Manchester. He has worked as a software engineer for Castle Care-Tech Ltd., senior engineer for NEC Electronics Ltd., and a designer engineer for ALSTOM Power Conversion Ltd. For his innovation, he was awarded the “Asia-Pacific Productivity Champion” (2015) by the Asian Productivity Organization in Japan, and the “State Honour Award” (2013) by the President of Mongolia.


Seminar – 28 November – Aurélie Névot

November 14th, 2017 by anna.c


Tuesday 28 November 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Aurélie Névot

Centre for Studies on China, Korea and Japan, EHESS, Paris

Mo: “master/sacrificial victim” (Yi-Sani shamanistic writing, China):
Substantial mobility (transsubstantiation) between the Masters of psalmody (bimos) and their sacrificial victims (mo)

The notion of “mo” comes from the secret language and writing of Yi-Sani shamans living in Southwestern China (Yunnan). The term is used to refer to those ritualists themselves: bi-mos (Masters of psalmody), as well as to the animals the latter sacrifice to their gods: mos. I propose to address the transsubstantial (trans-substantia) process that occurs between these two “mos” during rituals. I will try to explain how such a relation is established and question to what extent it could be linked to the notion of mobility, discussed here from ritual perspectives. To do so, I will make a broad overview of the sacrificial framework of the Masters of psalmody by following every stage of the bimo sacrifice (my presentation will be based on ethnographic data collected in the field from 1999 to 2017).

Full abstract here


Seminar – 14 November – Hurelbaatar Ujeed

November 2nd, 2017 by anna.c


Tuesday 14  November 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Hurelbaatar Ujeed

Inner Mongolia Normal University

Merging peoples: shifting economy, transforming environment and surviving culture in a typical Horchin village

The Horchin Region of Inner Mongolia has long seen waves of immigration and cultural integration. The Horchin Mongols, ruled by the descendants of Chinggis Khan’s younger brother Hasar, had originally lived in the vast territory of Hulun Buir and southern Baikal region. Around the mid-16th century, they moved to the current Horchin region. Since then, the Horchin nobility had ruled the peoples of the region throughout the Qing period, the early Chinese Republic and Japanese occupation until the first half of the 20th century when it came under the jurisdiction of the People Republic of China until present day.

During these periods, various peoples were merged into the Horchin Mongols. Now the Mongolian population in the Horchin region is up to 2.1 million which occupies 43.5% of the total population of the region. The region provides a perfect case study of how cultural identities interact, merge and evolve at a time where cultural integration is evermore important, not only in China but the world as a whole.

This paper documents the process of formation and expansion of a typical Horchin Mongolian village from the 18th century to the present day. It aims to focus on three major themes. First, the merging of Chinese immigrants and Mongolian internal immigrants into Horchin Mongols; second, the changing of economy and transforming of environment in the region as a result of this and finaly, the how Horchin Mongolian culture itself has endured and evolved throughout the period.