Seminar – 17 October – Bumochir Dulam

September 19th, 2017 by anna.c


Tuesday 17  October 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Bumochir Dulam

University College London

The Power of a Master: Respect among Mongols in Rural China

This paper attempts to understand the Mongolian concept of ezen (master or host) by observing how his power works. Unlike the conventional understanding of political power that oppresses and encounters resistance, power of a master is primarily based on respect. The paper uses the term ‘respect’ as a socially constructed attitude that exalts the other, or his characteristics, achievements, skills, acts etc. Going beyond considerations of respect, the paper also argues that by exalting, some cases of respect produces the power of a master. Respect as the main mechanism for masters to maintain power helps us understand the nature of a master. Moreover, this paper shows how this kind of power of a master extends beyond the term master, and how village cadres employ the power of a master to win in the village grassroots election in Qinghai, China.  Although cadres are not called ezen or a master they practice the power of a master based on respect. The ethnography explores the village grassroots election and shows how the local, informal, traditional mechanisms of power, not necessarily contradicts, but amalgamates the formal government power through locally elected village cadres.

Michaelmas Term – Seminar Programme

September 11th, 2017 by anna.c

Please see below for this term’s programme which begins on Tuesday October 17 2017.

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


Seminar – 13 June – Martin Mills

June 6th, 2017 by anna.c


Tuesday 13  June 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Martin Mills

University of Aberdeen

Last Gift of the God-King: Negotiating Constitutional Ownership in the Wake of the Dalai Lama’s Resignation

The resignation in November 2011 of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama from political office presented the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (now called the Central Tibetan Administration, or CTA) with profound constitutional challenges. The exiled Tibetan administration based in Dharamsala, India – with its triumvirate institutions of executive, legislature and judiciary – had been regulated, at least in theory, by the Charter of Tibetans in Exile, a Charter which nonetheless gave supreme sovereign authority over the Tibetan refugee settlements and administration to the Dalai Lama. His retirement from political office entailed not just his resignation, but the entire separation of his religious estate and lineage – the Ganden Podrang – from exiled political governance. These events, directed almost in entirety by the Dalai Lama himself, forced the CTA, perhaps for the first time in history, to endeavour to formally articulate the actual powers and responsibilities of a sitting (if exiled) Dalai Lama, precisely so that they could be delegated to others. Based on interviews with past and present prime ministers of the CTA, and members of the Charter Reform Committee, this paper examines the difficulties and disagreements and revelations involved in the exiled Tibetan administration’s hesitant moves towards ‘secular democracy’.

Lunchtime Film Screening – 6 June – Losing Ground, a film by Bradley Rappa

May 23rd, 2017 by anna.c

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

Wednesday 6 June 2017, 1.00–2.00

All welcome

Losing Ground, a film by Bradley Rappa

The film is 30 minutes long and will be followed by questions

Poster here

Seminar – 30 May – Michael Puett

May 18th, 2017 by anna.c


Tuesday 30  May 2017

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Michael Puett

University of Harvard

Master, Host, Demon, God

Hosting is a key notion among the mobile societies of Inner Asia.  But it is an equally recurrent theme among the relatively sedentary societies of China.  This paper will attempt to develop the comparative implications of the concept of hosting by exploring the theme across a wide range of practices in China in which the interplay of the sedentary and the mobile plays a major role.  I will argue that, when taken seriously, hosting allows us to rethink many of our other anthropological categories, including cosmology, kinship, and kingship.