Mongolian Institute Looking back at 2022 - Bi-Annual Newsletter
This year Natasha Fijn took up the role as Director of the Mongolia Institute.
In March we invited the newly arrived Ambassador of Mongolia for Australia and New Zealand, Davaasuren Damdinsuren, to visit the newly appointed Mongolia Room in the Coombs Building at the ANU.
Just a few months later, in April, the newly appointed Ambassador-designate for Australia, Katie Smith, visited Mongolia Institute staff in the Mongolia room, before she left for her appointment in Ulaanbaatar.
On 28 March the ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop and Vice-Chancellor Brian Schmidt welcomed a delegation led by the State Secretary of Mongolia, Ankhbayar Nyamdorj, to discussions over lunch, including Mongolian-style tea (suutei tsai) in the Mongolia Room.
Mongolia Institute Seminar Series
Throughout the year we held an online bi-weekly lunchtime seminar series with a diverse range of speakers focussing on Mongolian studies.
Three highlights within the series were an in-person joint seminar with the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies with visiting scholar Kubilai Atik presenting on ‘Oirats: Between Empires’. CHL PhD student Namatullah Kadrie presented on ‘The Conquest of Hazarastan’ and the historic persecution of the Hazaras in Afghanistan. One of our last seminars was an online film screening of ‘Lady of the Gobi: trucking coal across the desert to China’, followed by a Q and A with the filmmaker. Khoroldorj Zoomed in from his car in a mining precinct in the Gobi Desert, where he was still on-location and in the process of making a feature-length documentary.
If you missed seeing the documentary, you can still view it online.
New Postgraduate Students
Facilitated by Sarah Johnstone, who has worked with Australia Awards students in Mongolia and Canberra for many years, on 14 June the Mongolia Institute welcomed five new Masters Students from Ulaanbaatar to the Mongolia Room for afternoon tea and introductions. Zoljargal, Arman, Munkhbayar (Muugii), Anand and Enkhbaatar (Eba) had all just arrived in Canberra the week before.
Toward the end of the year, three visiting postgraduate students arrived from Inner Mongolia and they will remain as visitors at the ANU for much of 2023 (Clockwise from left): Da Gula, Han Debao, and Hao Riwa.
In June the Mongolia Institute sponsored a virtual panel at the Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) conference, entitled ‘On the Move: Across the Mongolian Plateau’, focussing on the theme of mobility and homeland. Natasha Fijn, Jonathan Ratcliffe and Uchralt Otede presented interconnected papers with Li Narangoa as discussant, the panel included simultaneous translation via Zoom.
As a part of this conference artist Zolboo Gansukh exhibited some of his paintings at the conference venue in Melbourne, featuring Mongolian scenes, portraits and galloping horses.
Li Narangoa and Natasha Fijn presented within the International Association for Mongolian Studies Conference from 5-8 August with an opening ceremony at the Grand Palace in Ulaanbaatar.
At the conference, Professor Narangoa was awarded a prestigious medal for her exceptional academic contribution to Mongolia’s history and cultural heritage. The B. Rinchin Award (named after the founder of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences) is the most prestigious award of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and Professor Narangoa is the first foreigner to be awarded.
Ambassador for Mongolia, Davaasuren Damdinsuren, and Spencer Haines from DFAT, congratulated Professor Narangoa on her achievement when she returned to Australia.
The Mongolia Update
Natasha Fijn and Li Narangoa travelled to Mongolia to co-organise the Mongolia Update, held on 12 August, in conjunction with the Mongolian Embassy in Australia and hosted by the School of International Relations and Public Policy at the National University of Mongolia. The theme for the Update was in recognition of 50 years of diplomatic relations between Australia and Mongolia. A keynote at the Update was Member of Parliament, Tsogtbaatar Damdin, who gave a succinct history of the diplomatic relations, with engaging closing remarks by Katie Smith, Ambassador of Australia in Mongolia.
On 8 May, Uchralt Otede hosted a participatory workshop in the Mongolia Room to commemorate National Language and Script Day.
Celebrated on the first Sunday of May in Mongolia, this special day is to raise awareness about Mongolian as a distinct language and a unique script.
In November and into December the ANU Mongolian ger was set up on the campus grounds.
You can watch The Mongolian Ger at ANU video, if you didn’t get to check it out in person.
The Mongolia Institute held a cultural heritage event as part of a larger multicultural Immersia Festival from 1-3 December. Mongolian language was featured at a Mongolia Desk, along with other Asia and Pacific languages that are taught within the School of Cultural, History and Language.
In the Mongolia Room visitors could view a short film on Mongolian horse archery and display boards featured aspects of Mongolian cultural heritage, derived from Natasha Fijn’s fieldwork in 2019 and 2022.
During the cultural heritage event on the Saturday of the festival, the Ambassador of Mongolia’s twelve-year-old son played the Morin Khuur to the gathered audience outside the ger, while children played Mongolian games, drew and practiced Mongolian calligraphy. Inside the ger traditional Mongolian deel and felt making were on display.
While the Mongolian ger was up on campus for over a month, a few events were held inside the ger. One was a storytelling workshop called ‘Yurt Talks’, organised by HDR student Jarrod Sim. Another was a DRAW workshop, coordinated by artist Julian Laffan, where participants drew inside the ger.
For a final event of the year, we celebrated Uchralt Otede completing his PhD with an afternoon tea in the courtyard adjacent to the newly refurbished Coombs tea rooms.
The Mongolia Institute has an updated blog site, still called MongolInk, including an archive of relevant past blog posts.
If you would like to contribute a short piece (800-1000 words) on a subject relating to contemporary Mongolia or Mongolian studies, please contact: Natasha.Fijn@anu.edu.au.