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Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit


The Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit is very pleased to announce that the third Onon Prize has been awarded to Professor Christopher Atwood, for his significant contributions to Inner Asian Studies.

Professor Atwood is the recipient of the prize for 2020, the award having been postponed last year. 

The Onon Prize was established in recognition of Professor Urgunge Onon’s contribution to the foundation of MIASU. The prize is intended to honour those who have made a substantial contribution to scholarship on the Mongolian & Inner Asian region.

We are delighted that Professor Atwood has accepted this award.


Read more about previous Onon prizes here


Christopher P. Atwood was introduced to Mongolian and Chinese studies by Joseph Fletcher and Francis W. Cleaves, receiving his A.B. from Harvard University in 1986. He spent two years in Inner Mongolia, doing research and studying at the Mongolian language and literature department at Höhhot’s Inner Mongolia Normal University. He completed his Ph.D. from Indiana University’s Central Eurasian Studies Department, working with György Kara, Lynn Struve, Elliot Sperling, and Jeff Wasserstrom. He went on to teach at Indiana University for two decades, serving as department chair and interim director of the Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region, before taking up his current position as first Professor and then Chair of Department of East Asian Languages and Civilisations at the University of Pennsylvania in 2016. He has authored over a hundred publications, including the authoritative reference work Encyclopedia of Mongolia and the Mongol Empire (2004), the Rise of the Mongols: Five Chinese Sources (2021), and the two-volume work Young Mongols and Vigilantes in Inner Mongolia Interregnum Decades, 1911-1931 (2002).  Professor Atwood is a recipient of the Order of the Polar Star, awarded by the President of Mongolia, and holds honorary doctorates from the Academy of Sciences and the National University of Mongolia.