Lent Term – Seminar Programme amendment

February 4th, 2019 by anna.c

Please see below for this term’s revised programme – please note there has been a change to the final seminar of the term on 26 February, now to be given by Robbie Barnett.

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

LENT 2019

Latest Research – Alternative Medicine in Mongolia

January 24th, 2019 by anna.c


Over the past 8 years, Dr Elizabeth Turk, MIASU Research Associate, Department of Social Anthropology, has been exploring the increased popularity of nature-based and ‘alternative’ medicine in post-Soviet Mongolia. During a time described as ‘disorganised’ (zambaraagui), marked by mineral mining and the ’emptying out’ of rural homelands as people re-locate to the capital city, many expressed the importance of human relationship with the natural environment. In conversation and practice, Nature was often inflected with national territory, lending the concept-place ethnonational weight. Dr Turk’s work traces the historically-contingent ways in which the natural world – a National Nature – is both imagined and recruited in the amelioration of illness. She describes some of her research experiences here.

Seminar – 29 January – Zulfikar Sarkit

January 15th, 2019 by anna.c


Tuesday 29 January 2018

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Zulfikar Sarkit

National Academy of Governance of Mongolia

Political leadership and history of political thought in Mongolia

This article aims first to give a brief overview of the etymology of leadership, the use of leadership in the Mongolian context, and as a role model to follow, including the definition by Mongolian researchers. Secondly, we will discuss the dominant leadership style exercised by state officials and nobles in historical records of Mongolia. Finally, we will review research done within the theory and methodology of leadership in Mongolia and discuss a role of National Academy of Governance in modern history through organizational development.

Seminar – 15 January – Hildegard Diemberger

January 14th, 2019 by anna.c


Tuesday 15 January 2018

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Hildegard Diemberger

MIASU, University of Cambridge

Himalaya: Care for the Future 


In a confluence of events, climate change-related floods are occurring in the Himalaya just as motorable roads and telephone connections as well as new governance modes are arriving in places such as Limi, in Nepal’s impoverished Humla district. The advent of non-compostable and plastic waste is a new phenomenon for the population and the cultural and psychological shifts required across the generations in terms of how to manage these new forms of waste is proving challenging. Both old and new challenges require an infinite number of decisions at multiple levels, involving different forms of knowledge and moral frameworks in dealing with issues of causality, attribution, responsibility, prioritization and action. In this presentation I explore ways in which understandings of the past inform visions of the future in light of radical transformations.

Lunchtime seminar – 14 January – Richard Fraser

January 11th, 2019 by anna.c


Mond Building Seminar Room, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RF

Monday 14 January 2019, 1.00–2.00

Richard Fraser

MIASU, University of Cambridge

Cultural Heritage, Ethnic Tourism, and Minority-State Relations in Northeast China

In this seminar I describe the impact of cultural heritage classifications amongst the Orochen ethnic minority in northeast China. I argue that while heritage is often used as a top-down strategy by the Chinese state for rural and economic development, it is important to consider the bottom-up experiences of heritage-making and the use of heritage by minority actors to facilitate development in their own minority communities. Presenting an ethnographic case-study from the Orochen township of Tuohe, I show how heritage does not operate through the prism of a static and hierarchical relationship between a ‘Han-Chinese’ state, on the one hand, and a small-numbered ‘ethnic minority’, on the other. Instead, it is driven largely by Orochen themselves and, in particular, ethnic minority cadres and intellectuals who use heritage and the allocation of funding to channel development projects and fulfil the needs and expectations of local communities. In particular, I describe how the classification of Orochen practices such as birch-bark craftsmanship allows minority actors to demand benefits such as upgraded housing and improved facilities in the context of the ethnic tourism industry, to develop new livelihood strategies to counteract perceived cultural and linguistic loss, and maintain the right to hunt despite a much-criticised hunting-ban and environmental conservation policies. Of course, this does not mean that heritage-isation is a uniform process with no unintended consequences. As I show, it also creates divisions such as between experts and non-experts, changes the value of traditional practices, and affects the self-perception of the Orochen in the context of marketisation.