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Mapping Mongolia

Mapping Mongolia: Situating Mongolia in the World from Geologic Time to the Present

EDITED BY Paula L.W. Sabloff
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Mapping Mongolia
    Book Description:

    With its small population and low GDP, Mongolia is frequently deemed "unique" or tacked onto various area studies programs: Inner Asia, Central Asia, Northeast Asia, or Eurasia. This volume is a response to the concern that countries such as Mongolia are marginalized when academia and international diplomacy reconfigure area studies borders in the postsocialist era. Would marginalized countries such as Mongolia benefit from a reconfiguration of area studies programs or even from another way of thinking about grouping nations? This book uses Mongolia as a case study to critique the area studies methodology and test the efficacy of another grouping methodology, the "-scapes" method proposed by Arjun Appadurai. Could the application of this approach for tracing individuals' social networks by theme (finance, ethnicity, ideology, media, and technology) be applied to nation-states or peoples? Could it then prevent Mongolia from slipping through the cracks of academia and international diplomacy? Experts from ecology, genetics, archaeology, history, anthropology, and international diplomacy contemplate these issues in their chapters on Mongolia through the ages. Their work includes over 30 maps to help situate Mongolia in its geologic, geographic, economic, and cultural matrix. By comparing maps of different time periods and intellectual orientations, readers can consider for themselves the place of Mongolia in the world community and the relative benefits of these and other grouping methodologies.

    eISBN: 978-1-934536-31-5
    Subjects: Archaeology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-VI)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. VII-VIII)
  3. Figures
    (pp. IX-XII)
  4. Tables
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. XV-XVI)
  6. Foreword Penn Museum International Research Conferences
    (pp. XVII-XVIII)
    Holly Pittman

    For more than a century, a core mission of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology has been to foster research that leads to new understandings about human culture. For much of the 20th century, this research took the form of worldwide expeditions that brought back both raw data and artifacts whose analysis continues to shed light on early complex societies of the New and Old worlds. The civilizations of pharonic Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, China, Mexico, and Central America are represented in galleries that display only the most remarkable of Penn Museum’s vast holding of artifacts. These...

  7. Preface and Acknowledgments: “–Scaping” Mongolia
    (pp. XIX-XXVI)
    Paula L.W. Sabloff
  8. Theorizing Mongolia’s Connections

    • 1 General Comments on Mapping Mongolia and Mongol Studies
      (pp. 3-15)

      I am an interloper in Mongol studies, but I want to take advantage of forty years of training in and administering East Asian area studies programs to make some observations about the growth and development of area studies in which, I think, Mongol studies has to fit. By looking at the problems within the American academy today, maybe we can see how that impacts Mongol studies.

      For many of us, American colleges and universities still seem highly Euro-American even in the 21st century. And that is despite all the mouthings of presidents and chancellors of universities about globalizing the academy....

    • 2 “–Scaping” Mongolia
      (pp. 16-33)

      Given that there are over 200 nation-states and territories in the world today, I think we would all agree that some form of grouping is necessary to make sense of so many. While there are several grouping paradigms in circulation today, a group of Mongol scholars and a Mongolian diplomat met at the Penn Museum in 2007 to consider the merits of two of them. The first is area studies as used in United States higher education institutions and international diplomacy. The other is “-scapes” of transnational flow, sometimes described as “landscapes of globalization” (Shumate, Bryant, and Monge 2005:74).¹ By...

    • 3 Mapping and the Headless State: Rethinking National Populist Concepts of Mongolia
      (pp. 34-59)

      How should we go about mapping Mongolia and establishing its contemporary and historical boundaries? And if we were to envisage Eurasia in terms of an “ethnoscape,” how would we identify the “Mongol” parts of this distribution, and to what extent would these correspond to the nation-states that we are familiar with? Any discussion as to the geographical extent of a national or potentially national entity will reflect our concepts of a “people” and their relationship to territory. In approaching these questions then, we are bound to reflect upon the history of these concepts, and the political orders that identified persons...

    • 4 Is There Such a Thing as Central/Inner (Eur)Asia and Is Mongolia a Part of It?
      (pp. 60-84)

      To the informed reader today, the vast area between Russia, the Middle East, India, and China’s Han heartland is still all Central Asia. Scholars studying the area, however, find this term frustratingly polyvalent. In years of addressing various audiences, I have found that as a rule it is perilous to use “Central Asia” without giving a strict and specific definition. This confusion stems from the sedimentation of different historical usages, none of which has replaced the other. Thus someone speaking about Central Asia might be using the term according to Edwardian English, or as a translation of either of two...

  9. Extending Beyond Current Borders

    • 5 The Geology, Climate, and Ecology of Mongolia
      (pp. 87-103)

      It is often said that Mongolia is a unique configuration of global and Asian trends. This singularity starts with its geology and topography, which are the culmination of tectonic geological pressures from the southern part of Asia. Half of Mongolia’s ecosystems (the local climate, soils, and vegetation) are shared with China to the south; the other half are similar to Russia in the north. These ecosystems accommodate pastoral nomadism well, and Mongolian herders have sustained this lifestyle for centuries. However, the changing behavior patterns of postsocialist nomads combined with changing climate (warming associated with global climate change) are interacting with...

    • 6 Nomadic Pastoralism in Mongolia and Beyond
      (pp. 104-124)

      Pastoral nomadism has been the dominant economic force in Mongolia and neighboring regions for many thousands of years. It is a grassland economy that supports a distinctive way of life that constitutes both a technoscape and an ethnoscape. That is, the pastoral nomads of the Eurasian steppe share a common and recognizable set of techniques that allow them to exploit the grasslands by means of livestock production. These include not only the common types of livestock they raise, but dwellings such as yurts and the capacity to move whole families along with the herds. The striking cultural similarities among the...

    • 7 The Prehistory of Mongolian Populations as Revealed by Studies of Osteological, Dental, and Genetic Variation
      (pp. 125-165)

      During the past decade, researchers have made a concerted effort to characterize the biogenetic diversity of populations from East Asia. This issue has drawn attention because it is one of several world regions where the initial stages of the diversification of anatomically modern humans took place (Nei and Roychoudhury 1993; Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi, and Piazza 1994; Jin and Su 2000). In addition, the region is marked by significant, historically documented demographic events such as wars, territorial conquests, and population relocations (Phillips 1969; Gongor 1970; Spuler 1971, 1989, 1994; Sinor 1990; Saunders 2001; Morgan 2007). One of these events was, of course,...

    • 8 Mapping Ritual Landscapes in Bronze Age Mongolia and Beyond: Interpreting the Ideoscape of the Deer Stone-Khirigsuur Complex
      (pp. 166-192)

      Thirty-three hundred years ago, during the Late Bronze Age, a striking new cultural landscape took form on the hills and grasslands of Mongolia and parts of southern Siberia and the Altai Mountain region. Consisting of khirigsuur boulder mounds and standing stones representing warriors with elaborate deer images on their torsos, the Deer Stone-khirigsuur Complex (DSKC) is the first monumental cultural expression to appear in the steppe region of Inner Asia. The architectural complexity of khirigsuurs and the artistic genius of deer stones are remarkable organizational and creative achievements for a society based on nomadic pastoralism. Yet while being highly visible...

  10. Connecting to Other Polities

    • 9 Timescapes from the Past: An Archaeogeography of Mongolia
      (pp. 195-219)

      The expansion of the medieval Mongols across Eurasia 800 years ago created a varied legacy that can still be perceived and mapped quite clearly today. The distribution of contemporary human genes shows direct evidence of Mongol genetic influence across the Old World (Schurr, this volume). Studies of today’s Eurasian foods and textile traditions reveal the imperial Mongol propensity for broadly disseminating cultural practices from one region to another (Buell, Anderson, and Perry 2000; Allsen 1997). The name “Chinggis” and its many permutations (Genghis, Cengiz, Jengiz, etc.), if mapped, would reveal a far-flung array of cultures in which the cult of...

    • 10 Steppe Nomads as a Philosophical Problem in Classical China
      (pp. 220-246)

      One of the purposes of the “-scapes” approach to anthropological inquiry is to deconstruct the nation-state and see through its otherwise rigid contours; by focusing on “ethnoscapes,” “technoscapes,” “ideoscapes,” and so on, one can observe both coherence across national boundaries and diversity within them. It stands to reason, then, that societies before nation-states should exhibit the same conceptual flexibility that the notion of “-scapes” offers us today—as is well-illustrated by Chinese attitudes toward their neighbors, especially those dwelling on the steppes to the north, and the profound changes that these attitudes underwent during the establishment of the first Chinese...

    • 11 Mapping Foreign Policy Interest: Mongolia’s Case
      (pp. 247-262)

      The traditional area studies approach is important for better understanding different societies and peoples. Such an approach can be compared to changing a two-dimensional picture into a three-dimensional one. The result is not only expanding the study of human societies and making it more interesting but also improving the practical use of the knowledge thus gained.

      In the course of this conference’s intellectual exercise, we have compared the degree of utility and effectiveness of different approaches for better examining the situation of a given country or nation at a time when the world is rapidly integrating and globalizing. The approaches...

  11. Index
    (pp. 263-273)