Seminar – 20 February – Nicola Scardigno

February 8th, 2018 by anna.c


Tuesday 20 February 2018

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Nicola Scardigno

Polytechnic of Bari

Definition of a Tool for Landscapes’ Systemic-Scalar Reading: Classification Hypothesis of the Mongolian Landscapes

With respect to multiple theories and interpretations within which the ‘concept of landscape’ oscillates, this research attempts to re-define the notion, bringing it back to the original condition of the man-nature relation: sort of first derivative of the interaction between the being (man) and the entity (reality). In the effort to trace the cultural origins of the issue, the attempt is to link the matter to a paradigm of thought linked to a dimension constituting man, his awareness. Hence the need to consider the implications that each landscape reality embodies and consequent need to decipher its complexity, by systematizing knowledge through the progressive identification of relations between components (nature, culture, society, economy) and scalar level of complexity concerning the landscape itself. In other words, an attempt is made to formulate a unifying cognitive-evaluation of the concept of landscape by defining an analysis tool of logic-classification type, aiming at the phenomenological-synthetic reading of all elements making up a landscape reality with the purpose to steer relative design choices with awareness.
The application-experimental field of the research is the territory of Mongolia. A land with a vast, multi-faceted, apparently little anthropized, whose essence and balance are based on a silent and constant interaction process between environmental, social-economic and settlement conditions based on the co-existence between permanent and non-permanent culture.

Seminar – 6 February – Chima Michael Anyadike-Danes

January 25th, 2018 by anna.c


Tuesday 6 February 2018

4.30–6.00 Mond Building Seminar Room

Chima Michael Anyadike-Danes

University of California, Irvine

Trucking with Time: The Emergence of New Mongolian Mobilities in America 

How do time, space, and movement weave together shaping the lives of Mongolian migrants to Los Angeles? And what does this reveal about life and labour in late modernity? The forms of mobility associated with international migration can lead immigrants to encounter alien regimes of time discipline that seek to structure people’s lives in ways they had not imagined. Ways that may be consequential for their ethical goals. Scholars have often associated the rise of such regimes of control with the singular emergence of industrial modernity, and the factory as a site of labour and surveillance. However, more recent research has emphasized both the universality and plurality of time discipline.

In this talk I begin by examining how forms of time discipline associated with various public agencies and private enterprises operating in Los Angeles interpenetrate with the lives of Mongolian immigrants as they move between their apartments, public parks, offices, and nightclubs. Having considered these forms of time-discipline I explore Mongolian attempts at resisting these impositions through the adoption of new forms of mobility.

The majority of the LA Mongolian population dwell in Koreatown— a neighbourhood of only a few square kilometres, but densely populated by more than 100,000 people. Many of the Mongolians living there journeyed to Los Angeles to study for business and management degrees but, while working to finance their studies, they experienced American capitalism and the time discipline attendant on menial labour.

Unhappy with this option some Mongolians have sought to exert agency over time, to allow the pursuit of their own ethical goals. Specifically, an increasing number of Mongolian men are becoming long-distance truckers. This may appear a puzzling career choice because truckers are apparently subordinated to a schedule, and subjected to a variety of regimes of surveillance. However, these men argue that this specific form of mobility offers them a freedom from the routinization and standardization they associate with the time discipline of work in Los Angeles and, unlike other labour, the scope to pursue their own ethical goals.

In my presentation, I will explore this seeming contradiction, and conclude by suggesting that it reveals a key dimension of late-modernity.


Visiting Scholars – Lent 2018

January 18th, 2018 by anna.c

Lent Term 2018

We welcome the following visiting scholars this term –

September  2017 – August 2018: Chen Xiangjun, South-Central University for Nationalities (SCUN), Hubei province, China
‘Nomadic Society of the Altai Steppes: Environmental and Visual Anthropology’

October  2017 – October 2018: Uranchimeg Ujeed
‘Mongolian Spiritual Culture including Buddhism, shamanism, popular beliefs and folklore’ Research project: ‘Becoming shamans to be healed – Self healing practices in Horchin Mongolian shamanism in contemporary China’

November 2017 – May 2018: Shanshan Liu, Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, CASS, Beijing, China
‘A Study of Modern British Research on Xinjiang’

January 2018 – December 2019: Valeriya Gazizova, post doctoral research associate working on her project:
‘Clandestine Buddhism’ in Soviet Kalmykia (1958-1988) and its role in the post-Soviet Buddhist revival’. The project is funded by the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation in Buddhist Studies

February 2018: Joseph Bristley, University College London
‘Mongolian migration and transnational mobilities’

Lunchtime talk and discussion – 24 January – Charlie Kennel

January 18th, 2018 by anna.c


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

Wednesday 24 January 2018, 12.00–1.00

Professor Charlie Kennel

Emeritus Professor, Scripps Institute of Oceanography

University of California San Diego

Fire and Fury along the California Coast

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.