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Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit


The West Mongolia Initiative is a new research departure for MIASU made possible by a generous donation by the Sigrid Rausing Trust, which has funded three new positions based in the Unit: the Caroline Humphrey Professor of Inner Asia, held by David Sneath; the Sigrid Rausing Postdoctoral Fellowship, held by Joe Ellis; and the Sigrid Rausing MIASU Doctoral Studentship in the Social Anthropology of Inner Asia, held by Jenny Tang. All three of these researchers share overlapping interests in the distinctive identities of ‘Western’ Mongolians, particularly the Oirat and sub-categories such as the Kalmyk, Torguud, Khoshuud, Dörböd, Ööld, Bayad, Zakhchin, as well as other Western Mongolian groups. 

As a result, MIASU has initiated a pilot project to explore the prospects for a major study of the historical emergence and contemporary effects of Western Mongolian identity categories, including their historical construction, to be examined by David Sneath, distinctive political discourse, to be explored by Joe Ellis, and artistic expression, to be studied by Jenny Tang. This research will draw heavily upon existing MIASU expertise in this field, including the work of Caroline Humphrey, Uradyn Bulag, Tom White and other Unit members, and will engage with current regional and international scholarship in the field. It will commence with a preliminary trip by Joe Ellis to Western Mongolia in 2022, followed by a series of talks and workshops with a view to developing a major grant application in the near future.