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Speaker Series - Dr. Ann Altman

 Bringing a Taste of Local Government from Connecticut to Mongolia: 2006-2015 

November 30th, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-0486

Dr. Altman will give an informal talk about her work with and for Mongolians here and in the USA.  For the past 10 years Dr. Altman has been mentoring and lecturing on leadership and community development throughout Mongolia.

Speaker Series - Christine Murphy

The spaces in between: the impact of development on death and sex

 November 24th, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-048

This project investigates the impact of development on religious spaces of liminality in Mongolia. The liminal spaces she investigates are those between the living and the dead (funerary forms), and the socially engaged and socially renounced (monastic orders). This ethnographic, textual, and theoretical project incorporates an analysis of material and immaterial liminality and socio-spatial relativism by restructuring questions of identity, engagement, and public responsibility as they relate to sexuality, gender roles, and funerary practices in a developing, global economy. 

She aims to deconstruct previously assumed truths regarding the role of monastics and gender within Mongolian society, as well as outline a uniquely Mongolian interpretation of Buddhist death rituals and funeral rites. 

ACMS welcomes Dr. Julia Clark as resident Cultural Heritage Program Coordinator
With support from the Henry Luce Foundation, the American Center for Mongolian Studies has initiated a Cultural Heritage Program (CHP) that is being directed from its Ulaanbaatar office. This program will host several fellows each year in the area of cultural heritage in Mongolia. Researchers will support the documentation and preservation of both the tangible and intangible cultural heritage of Inner Asia, with a focus on the people and geographic area that is now in the nation of Mongolia.

Dr. Julia Clark, a recent graduate from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pittsburgh, has been selected as the CHP coordinator. Dr. Clark has been conducting archaeological fieldwork in Mongolia annually since 2007 working primarily in Arkhangai, Bayan Ulgii, Hovsgol, and Uvs Aimags. She has been the director of the Northern Mongolia Archaeology Project (formerly the Targan Nuur Archaeology Project) in the Darkhad Depression, Hovsgol Aimag since 2011. Dr. Clark utilizes a variety of archaeological and ethnographic methods to investigate the introduction of food production and its effect on Mongolia and the surrounding regions, from the adoption of domesticated animals several millennia ago through the present. For more information on this program and upcoming cultural heritage projects, you can reach Julia at 
Speaker Series - Bryce Lowry

Tracing the Bronze-Iron Age Transition: Preliminary Results of Fieldwork from Bayankhongor aimag

October 27th, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-048

 In this article following Gramsc Although recent advances in archaeological research on the wider steppe have uncovered important social and economic trajectories of steppe communities, the political economy of Late Bronze -Early Iron Age (ca. 1500-500 BCE) Mongolia remains poorly understood except in broad strokes. Scholars suggest that these communities became more socially “complex” during this transitional period, concomitant with a shift in economic practice: from a mixed economy to one of pastoralism. But the questions of “how,”, “why,” and “by what mechanism” these political and economic shifts came to be, have not been clearly established. This is in part due to a focus solely on burial monuments and their excavation.

To counter this trend in Mongolian archaeological research, my joint Mongolian-American project attempted to engage conceptually and methodologically with occupational landscapes—an idea that acknowledge the importance of burial contexts but does not solely rely upon them.  This talk will be a cursory presentation of our 2015 archaeological research in Bayankhongor aimag. It will cover the intended research plans, questions, and methods, as well as a partial discussion of the findings and their potential to inform us about the Late Bronze and Early Iron Ages of Mongolia.

Speaker Series - Tuya Shagdar

Homeland Associations and Production of Informal Power in Mongolia: the Case of Uvs nutgiin zuvlul

 October 13th, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-0486


In this article following Gramsci and more recently Steven Lukes I would like to explore issues of power and consent through ethnographic field work carried out in relation to Uvs Province Homeland Associations (Uvs aimgiin nutgiin zuvlul), a non-government organization that operates in the public domain and that has a significant influence on formal politics in Mongolia. As informal political institutions, these organisations are often overlooked as domain where powerful elites draw its legitimacy and mobilize public consent. The issues of Homeland Associations as powerful ideological institutions for political mobilization were explored by few scholars in Mongolian studies, including David Sneath who emphasizes “locality” as an emerging sub-national field for the production of collective identity as opposed to ethnicity based identity. To take this argument one step further I suggest that, if membership in HA can be regarded as evidence of powerful source of political mobilization albeit in “unofficial” public domain, then we may use the examination of these social groups as a way to take a closer look at what Lukes termed the third dimension of power- as opposed to visible and behavioral forms that are manifest in established political institutions and practices. From the anthropological point of view social theory that defines power in terms of domination and resistance presents a number of limitations. This paper argues that power can also be seen in processes designed to mollify various needs of the public in ways that do not fit the domination/resistance model, as the case study in Uvs HA shows. The ethnographic interviews with both local and national elites as well as rural residents reveal that such “informal” political institutions can be locus of reciprocity between elites and non-elite groups and individuals. Following my thesis I will discuss the historical background of the formation of these associations, their structure, recruitment and membership, including the youth organizations, women’s associations under the HA umbrella and finally, the political, economic and cultural spheres upon which these associations exert their influence and how local people intentionally seek out such structures to improve their daily lives.

AAS-in-ASIA 2016 Conference


AAS-in-ASIA 2016 Conference

Kyoto, Japan


The Association for Asian Studies (AAS) and Doshisha University are pleased to invite colleagues in Asian studies to submit proposals for organized panels and roundtables (no individual paper proposals accepted) to be presented at the third AAS-in-ASIA Conference to be held June 24-27, 2016 at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.

The Program Committee for the AAS-in-ASIA conference seeks proposals dealing with all regions of Asia on subjects covering a wide range of scholarly disciplines and professional fields under the theme "Asia in Motion: Horizons of Hope."

Panels are welcomed from scholars throughout the field of Asian studies, wherever they may be based academically, and are especially encouraged from scholars representing academic communities that are relatively underrepresented in international meetings.

The deadline for proposal submissions is October 30, 2015 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. All proposals must be submitted electronically via the proposal submission website.

Click button below for the Call for Proposals instructions..

Full Conference details can be found on the conference website. Please visit for more information on this special conference being held in Kyoto.

Want more information about Kyoto, Japan- 2015 World's Best City according to Travel & Leisure? Click here!




Speaker Series - William Taylor

Understanding Ancient Horse Use in the Mongolian Steppe

September 15th, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-048

Although Mongolia is known the world over for its expert horsemanship and horse culture, little is known about how the domestic horse first arrived in the Eastern Steppe. The earliest archaeological evidence for equine herding in the region dates to the late Bronze Age (ca. 1300-700 BCE), when horses were buried in small mounds surrounding stone monuments known as deer stones and khirigsuurs. Some scholars have linked this period with the first Mongolian horse-riding societies and the beginnings of a mobile herding lifestyle. However, with few artifacts or written records to work from, the relationship between people and horses during this period has remained difficult to evaluate directly.

Using techniques from archaeozoology (the study of animal bones from archaeological contexts), Mr. Taylor’s research investigates how these Bronze Age Mongolian horses were used and managed. His talk will summarize osteological and demographic data which suggest that horses were not only managed as livestock, but also harnessed and used for transport as early as 1200 BCE. As a result, late Bronze Age groups in Mongolia might have played a key role in the shift from chariots to mounted horseback riding, and could have facilitated the initial spread of domestic horses to other areas of East Asia.

In Philadelphia: Brown Bag Talk with Nancy Steinhardt

"The Pagoda in Kherlen Bars"

September 16th, 2015 - 12pm

Location: 844 Williams Hall, University of Pennsylvania

For this brown bag talk, Professor Nancy Steinhardt (University of Pennsylvania) will discuss a unique Khitan (Liao Empire) pagoda located in present-day far eastern Mongolia, Kherlen Bars.

For more details, contact David Dettmann at

Smart air filter


 Air pollution season is just around a corner. Join us to learn about indoor air pollution and how to build your own air purifier.

When: Friday, September 11, 6:30 PM-8:00 PM

             Saturday, September 12, 10:30 AM-Noon

Where: Cafe Camino



Speaker Series - Joseph Cook

Building Scientific Research Infrastructure for Mongolia: The Role of Natural History Collections in Biodiversity and Human Health Studies

September 1st, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-048

Understanding the history of biogeographic connections between Asia and North America provides a critical foundation for studies of biodiversity and human health. Over the past three decades we have built natural history specimen collections of mammals and associated parasites from Canada, Alaska, Siberia and Mongolia that provide a powerful basis for a number of scientific studies. Because our planet is changing rapidly, natural history specimens are now essential baselines for the study of changing conditions. Each specimen provides a baseline sample because it represents a unique individual and species at a particular place (spatial) and time (temporal). These samples are necessary for understanding changing environments, especially when scientists use new technologies (GIS, stable isotopes, genomic analyses) to explore the fields of biodiversity discovery, biogeography, genomics, morphology, ecology, vector biology, and emerging zoonotic pathogens. Support for ensuring preservation of records generated in various research efforts should be a national priority for Mongolia. In the near future, we need to work together to help build a development plan for natural history collections for Mongolia (including training the next generation of Mongolian biologists) so that Mongolians will continue to benefit from the distinctive, long-term contributions of natural history museums. Developing this infrastructure depends on broader engagement and support from across scientific, educational, business, and international communities, and is both an ethical and scientific imperative given the rapidly changing environmental conditions on our planet.

International Young Researchers Forum

Research Forum: 13-14 August 2015, Mongolian National University of Education

Field Trip: 15 August 2015, Nalgar Resort (56 km from Ulaanbaatar)

The first International Young Researchers Forum aims to foster interdisciplinary dialogue and promote research collaboration by bringing together young Mongolian and International researchers who have an interest in focusing their academic research on Mongolian themes.  Through facilitated exchanges, the participants will have a chance to share their knowledge, experience and expertise in order to enhance the overall quality of research and discover potential new areas of study.

The forum will focus on three clustered themes: Physical Life Sciences, Social Sciences, and Culture and Linguistics. Further breakdown of the areas of research are listed below. Delegates will begin the forum focusing on one stream and over the two days morph into a collective sharing and participate in the development of strategic recommendations for the enhancement of future collaborative research opportunities. 


    Who to attend?

We welcome all undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral researchers under the age of 35, whose area of concentration includes Mongolian themes, issues and subject matter are encouraged to participate. If your area of research falls under any of the following disciplines, please proceed to filling out the registration form  to reserve your seat for this event:

Physical Life Sciences (Biology, Environmental Studies, Geology)

Social Sciences (Economics, Health, Sociology)

Culture & Linguistics (Anthropology, Archaeology, History, Language Studies, National Studies)

Participants do not have to be currently associated with an academic institution, but should be actively involved in some form of research or development activity in Mongolia. 

 Registration and Fees

The forum is available free of charge for Mongolian and international researchers. The forum badge provides admission to all keynotes, seminars, three parallel streams on both days of the forum, two tea-breaks and lunch on each day and the field trip. Forum is made available on a complimentary basis to encourage participation of young researchers. If you are interested in being part of the Forum, please fill out the online registration form under the Registration tab.

Online registration remains open until 10 August 2015. 

Speaker Series - Kenneth Linden

Collectivization in the Mongolian People's Republic, 1929-1960

August 11st, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-048  

One of the most striking and unique features of Mongolia today is the mobile herding economy and culture. The state of today’s herding cannot be fully understood without first understanding the transformative period of collectivization that occurred under socialism. Mongolia began efforts to collectivize its herding economy in 1929-1930, at the same time as the Soviet Union Due to widespread resistance and rebellion, as well as international concerns, collectivization in Mongolia was stopped and declared a failure in 1932. In 1954 when plans to collectivize the livestock began to be implemented again. Six years later collectivization was declared complete.

In this talk, I will discuss the history of collectivization in Mongolia from 1929-1960. I will show how collectivization in Mongolia fit in both the socialist world and in the history of Mongolian herding. I will also share some thoughts on my future research, as well as how my work can be of use to scholars, activists, and government officials to understand and improve herding in Mongolia today. 

Speaker Series: Holly Barcus

Place Identity, Homeland Narratives and Transnational Migration Decisions in western Mongolia

July 7th, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-048

Accompanying the dissolution of the USSR and the formation of new nation states in the 1990s, nearly half of Mongolian Kazakhs migrated from their adopted home of Mongolia to the imagined homeland of Kazakhstan.  By 2000, a sizable percentage returned to Mongolia.  In explaining their decisions to stay in or to return to Mongolia, the Kazakhs we interviewed cite several culturally specific factors.  Place identities, as expressed through cultural elements of religiosity, kinship ties, and language versatility tie Mongolian Kazakhs strongly to western Mongolia while meta-narratives about diaspora and homeland prescribe identity with Kazakhstan.  Utilizing life history interiviews, participant observation, and questionnaire data we argue that Mongolian Kazakhs actively employ narratives of their cultural history to re-create and re-establish place identities in Mongolia and ultimately re-imagine Mongolian-Kazakh community and identity.  These recreated place identities have emerged among Mongolian Kazakhs who chose to remain immobile or return migrate from the 'homeland' of Kazakhstan.


Speaker Series: Natsagnyam Namkhai

Political neutralization for green world protection

June 23rd, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-048

The present green world failure is created by the political systems we have. If we had a clever system, it would not have been done. We should neutralize the systems based on Plato’s circulation. The circulation of Pareto tells us what we should do next. Once we have a better system, the existing bugs will automatically be disappeared and the green world will be protected automatically even we do not want.

ACMS Members and Fellows Profiles

The ACMS has a wide diversity of members and fellows who are conducting work on a variety of projects in many different fields of study. These profiles will give everyone a chance to see what their colleagues and fellow members are accomplishing.

Protecting Grassland Ecosystems: Experiences in Africa and South America - Dr. Stuart Pimm

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015 7:00 pm Blue Sky Hotel, 3rd floor.

 The ACMS in collaboration with the National University of Mongolia is thrilled to host a Distinguished Speaker lecture with world conservation expert Stuart Pimm at the Blue Sky Hotel on Tuesday June 9th starting at 7 pm.  Dr. Pimm will speak about his efforts in grassland conservation and how basic ecological research can be turned into effective design and policy for protected areas.


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Speaker Series: Sara Jackson

Choking on Progress: Road Dust and Mongolia's Mining Boom in Eastern South Gobi Province

June 2nd, 2015 - Starting 5:30 PM

Location: American Corner, Ulaanbaatar Public Library

Tel: 976 7711-048

South Gobi province is at the center of Mongolia’s mining boom, where companies began exporting minerals over dirt-track roads in the early 2000s. This paper examines recent controversies surrounding the development of mining roads near the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold mine and the Chinese border. At the time of the research, local residents, particularly nomadic herders, were concerned that dust produced from unpaved mining roads was coating the pasture, causing illnesses among livestock, and rendering life unsustainable in the region. I argue that the dust from mining roads is an undesirable by-product of modernity that challenges the promises of progress and development. The dust excludes local residents from the promises of national development through mining as the dust infiltrates their daily lives and disconnects them from livelihoods and landscapes. I demonstrate how the presence of dust renders mining an uncomfortably intimate experience as state and corporate actors negotiate responsibility for infrastructure development. The paper contributes to a political ecology of dust and provides an analysis of perceptions of Gobi dust. Methods for the paper include interviews, focus groups, and participant observation conducted in South Gobi province and Ulaanbaatar in 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Building Resilience of Mongolia’s Rangelands: A Trans-disciplinary Research Conference

June 9-10th, 2015  Blue Sky Hotel, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia


What is the future of Mongolia’s rangelands and pastoral people?  How can these ecosystems and cultures be sustained in the 21st century?

    Mongolian rangelands and the pastoral systems that depend on them are at a potential tipping point. Some research reports widespread grazing- and climate-induced degradation, while other assessments find that Mongolian rangelands are resilient but at risk.  Herders observe changes in both climate and rangeland conditions, and rural poverty remains a persistent challenge.  New institutional innovations in rangeland assessment, monitoring and management offer reason for hope, but scientific evaluations of their process and outcomes are scarce.

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On the Move One Last Time

In true nomadic tradition, the ACMS has relocated several times during the last 10 years.  Through our partnership with local Universities, the ACMS has been located in  the National University Mongolia and the Mongolian University of Science and Technology.  Recently we have been in our temporary location at the Center 34 building. Just as Mongolia is becoming more urban and settled, the ACMS is now moving one more time to what will be our long term home. 

 Through the generous support of the Natsagdorj Ulaanbaatar Public Library, we will be located on the main floor, northeast corner of the Library, accessible by the East Entrance.  This new, larger space will house the ACMS admin office, library and resource center and GIS lab.  It will also be the home for the Books for Asia Program delivered in partnership with the Asia Foundation.

Starting on November 19th, the ACMS will be operating exclusively from the new location.  Come by and visit by following the link to the  new ACMS.

New ACMS Link

ACMS Office - Natsagdorj Library East Entrance

New Telephone Numbers:

ACMS:     976 7711 0486

Books for Asia:   976 7710 0486