The Mongolia & Inner Asia Studies Unit was founded in 1986 by Professor Caroline Humphrey and Professor Urgunge Onon. It has become a dynamic interdisciplinary research unit at the University of Cambridge and is based within the Department of Social Anthropology.

Within its area interest and interdisciplinary methods the MIASU has broadened its research to include a variety of approaches.

Current research themes include:

• Political formations in regional contexts of Inner Asia.

• The Book – Tibetan and Mongolian sacred books: text, technologies and transmission.

• The person, subject, individual and kinship in Inner Asian cultures.

• Cities and borders –  interfaces and interactions across political frontiers in Inner Asia.

• Pastoralism, land-use and climate change.

The Unit is run by the Director, and the Administrator and Research Co-ordinator, guided by an Executive Committee and reporting to the Management Committee.

Key members :

Professor Caroline Humphrey

Shamanism and Buddhism; theories of ritual; socialist/post-socialist economy and society; political forms; and the political imagination in East Asia. Her current research concerns the post-socialist city, cosmopolitanism and migration.

Professor David Sneath

Pastoralism; land use and the environment; decollectivisation and post-socialist social transformations; political culture and economic institutions in Inner Asia; and the anthropology of development.

Dr Uradyn Bulag

History and historiography; socialist/post-socialist political formations; comparative colonialism and imperialism; ethnicity and nationalism; urbanisation and public space in East and Inner Asia. His current research concerns the state and frontier transformations in China.

Dr Hildegard Diemberger

Local–state dynamics and the impact of radical change on traditional communities in Tibet. Landscape, space and time; local history and memory; changing notions of power and kinship; and debates over continuity, tradition and modernity; anthropology of literary artifacts.

Ms Libby Peachey – Unit Administrator and Research Co-ordinator; Managing Editor ‘Inner Asia’

Ms Anna Clayton – Administration and project support

Dr Uranchimeg Ujeed – Post-doctoral researcher and Mongolian Language teacher


Dr Baasanjav Terbish – Kalmykia, cultural heritage documentation project

MIASU has a range of activities related to research projects and individual scholarly research and exchange programmes.

Research Seminar Series

A fortnightly series of presentations of the latest research from the scholarly community.

Strategic Seminar Series

An occasional series focusing on a specific topic of political relevance involving the broader community including the Foreign Office, Chatham House, NGOs, the press and government representatives.

Conferences and Workshops

Conferences and workshops generally in association with overseas partner institutions or arising from specific research projects.

Visiting Scholar  Programme

The Sigrid Rausing Scholarly Exchange scheme provides support for Inner Asian scholars to visit the UK and for the work of MIASU scholars in Inner Asia.

Research Collections

The Unit holds a working collection of books in many languages and the Faculty of Asian and ­Middle Eastern Studies houses our Lattimore Collection of English and Russian language materials.

‘Inner Asia’ Journal & Inner Asia Monograph Series

A peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal edited by Unit members, published by Brill, Leiden; and a series of books on Inner Asian topics published for the Unit by Brill and .

Language Support

The Unit arranges basic tuition and language support for its members in many of the languages of Inner Asia.

Post-Graduate Research and Supervision

Students undertaking post-graduate research focusing on the region are registered in university departments and are welcomed and encouraged to take part in Unit activities.

Development Programmes

Through its strong links with Inner Asian universities MIASU scholars have been able to offer support to developing institutions in the area through a variety of schemes.