ANU Mongolia Institute Capstone Lunchtime Seminar

In late May, ANU Mongolia Institute began an online Lunchtime Seminar series intended to provide a forum for scholars working on Mongolia and the Mongolian diaspora.

Since then the Institute has hosted eight presentations and discussion groups on a wide variety of topics and featured many different disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspectives.

We are now pleased to announce a Capstone Lunchtime Seminar session to finish the 2020 seminar series.

The Capstone session will feature two rising scholars addressing very different aspects of Mongolian heritage and culture.

Dr William Taylor, Assistant Professor and Curator of Archaeology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, will first explore 4000 years of horse riding in western Mongolia, using artefacts recently recovered from melting ice patches.

Then Dr Rebekah Plueckhahn, McArthur Research Fellow in Anthropology at the University of Melbourne, will discuss the urban side of Mongolia and explore links between the experience of life in Ulaanbaatar and in other global urban centres. The two presentations will highlight a fascinating contrast in rural and urban research, reflective of the dual nature of Mongolia today. More information on each presentation is below.

The Capstone session will be on Friday 4 December. Due to the pairing of lectures, instead of the usual noon start, we will begin at 10:30AM (Canberra time).

This is an online event held via Zoom. Please register at Eventbrite to receive Zoom session information.

Guest speakers

Dr William Taylor

Assistant Professor and Curator of Archaeology, University of Colorado Museum of Natural History

Glacial Archaeology and High Altitude Prehistory in the Mongolian Steppe

The genesis of horse riding, highly mobile herding societies - like those of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire - revolutionised Eurasian prehistory, transforming the arid steppes of Mongolia and eastern Eurasia into a social and economic centre of the ancient world. However, the region’s shallow archaeological record makes it difficult to study when, why, and how this unique way of life first emerged. In the remote Altai Mountains that form the country’s western border, mountain snow and ice patches, melting now for the first time in centuries, are revealing biological and cultural materials that provide rare clues into the prehistory of this important region. Our recent work has revealed a near-continuous 4000 year archaeological record frozen in alpine ice, along with striking insights into the hunting and herding strategies of the area’s ancient residents. As summer temperatures continue to climb, loss of mountain ice simultaneously threatens the fragile archaeological record preserved within, and endangers the future of modern herding in the Eastern Steppe.

Dr Rebekah Plueckhahn

McArthur Research Fellow in Anthropology, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne

Viewing the urban through Ulaanbaatar

Ethnographically thinking through residents’ experience of economic flux and rapid urban growth in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, presents a rich picture of diverse strategies, unfolding urban residential politics and expectations of what the city “should” be. More specifically, attempts to own and hold real estate property presents a snapshot of some of the unfolding ways in which Ulaanbaatar has been socially and materially configured from within during recent periods of economic flux. However, many of the pressing concerns facing residents – the affordability of housing finance, residential politics, and accessing of land – are experienced by residents of cities in many parts of the world. By drawing on some specific themes, I aim to ask, what could be a fruitful analytical frame that links Ulaanbaatar with the urban experience more generally? Drawing from a focus that emphasises the many ways cities can be divergently “global” (Roy and Ong 2011), rather than focus on direct comparisons, I instead aim to tie together theoretically some key themes that link Ulaanbaatar to wider understandings of the urban.

Read more about the ANU Mongolia Institute’s 2020 online seminar series here.

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Event details

Special event


Dr William Taylor, Dr Rebekah Plueckhahn

Date & time

Friday 04 Dec 2020




Mongolia Institute

Updated:  22 February 2016/Responsible Officer:  Director, Mongolia Institute/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team