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ACMS Research Fellowship Seminar

Alternative Concepts: Conducting Research from a Mongolia-Centered Perspective

9am-3pm - June 25th, 2009, Open Society Forum Conference Room

The American Center for Mongolian Studies (ACMS), with funding support from the Henry Luce Foundation, will organize a seminar with the theme “Alternative Concepts: Conducting Research in the Mongolian Context” as part of the first year of the ACMS Research Fellowship Program. The ACMS Research Fellowship program brings a cohort of 3 US scholars to Mongolia each year to conduct dissertation or post-doctoral research. The seminar will be free and open to the public. The working language of the seminar will be English.

The seminar title and theme is Alternative Concepts. Within disciplines accepted concepts and models predominate in shaping the way scholars formulate research questions and examine issues. There are circumstances, however, in which these concepts are not adequate in understanding issues in certain places and times. In other words, context sometimes challenges accepted concepts and models, requiring scholars to construct alternatives to explain what they observe. This is sometimes true in the context of Mongolia where socio-economic, regional geo-political, and cultural conditions do not always fit nicely within the framework of accepted general models.

The seminar will feature presentations and discussion from a diverse set of scholars conducting research in Mongolia. The seminar’s purpose is to create a venue in which the ACMS Research Fellows can interact with colleagues and share ideas and information across disciplines and across regional boundaries to better understand concepts and other paradigms within the Mongolian context. The presentations at the seminar will focus on scholar specific research results and experiences that bind different disciplines together. An emphasis will be placed on exploring new research questions in particular fields of study as well as research questions that could potentially bring cross-discipline interaction that may challenge concepts traditionally applied to Mongolia and Inner Asia.

In addition to the ACMS Research Fellows, the seminar will feature Dr. Johan Elverskog, a distinguished scholar from Southern Methodist University. He will take the role of discussant during the afternoon session in pulling the different presentations together to produce a common thread of understanding and to facilitate discussion among the seminar attendees.

The seminar will also feature two other scholars working in Mongolia and the greater Inner Asian region. The schedule of events is as follows:


Opening Remarks

Fellow I Presentation
Jonathan Schlesinger—Ph.D. Student in History and East Asian Languages at Harvard University
Inventing Nature in the Qing Empire: Conquest and Conversation on the Boreal Frontier

Fellow II Presentation
Mikael Thompson—Ph.D. in Linguistics, Indiana University
An Instrumental Study of the Standard Mongolian Vowel System


Fellow III Presentation
Brian Baumann—Adjunct Assistant Professor, Central Eurasian Studies Department, Indiana University
The Mongol’s Religious Conversion: The 20th Century Intellectual History of Mongolia’s Transition from Buddhism to Modernity and Communism

Special Guest I
Chris Kaplonski—Senior Research Associate, Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, Cambridge University
Rethinking political violence: Buddhism and the state in early socialist Mongolia

Special Guest II
Bayarsaikhan Dashdondog—Center for Mongolian Studies, National University of Mongolia
A Survey of Armenian Historiography for the Mongols

Group Lunch


Senior Presenter

Johan Elverskog—Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Southern Methodist University

Panel Discussion
Johan Elverskog and morning presenters


US Embassy Reception – By invite only

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