Wednesday, September 14, 2005

A Study in Frustration

I can't describe how galling it is to read this item from Xinhuanet. It would hardly be more ironic if France became the leading center of British studies.
HOHHOT, Aug. 21 (Xinhuanet) -- China is the leading center of Mongolian studies in the world, according to experts convened at the International Symposium on Mongolian Studies, which closed in the capital of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Sunday.

More than 330 scholars of the Mongolian studies from 13 countries and regions attended the three-day academic meeting, which collected 240 thesis papers covering linguistics, translation, culture studies of the language as well as the latesttrend of economic, military and archeological development in the Mongolia-speaking regions.

Professor J. A. Janhunen of Helsinki University said China is in a very important position to offer materials for Mongolian Studies.

Janhunen witnessed that Chinese scholars in the sector have hadincreasing contacts with their foreign counterparts in recent years. "Many scholars from China's Inner Mongolia University studyin Germany, Britain, France and also in Finland. I had two doctoral students from the university in my institution in Helsinki."

The Finnish professor, who first visited the Inner Mongolia Region in 1986, said that the international meeting held in Hohhotwas better organized and larger than most previous ones, which showed that the Mongolian studies had received more attention fromthe Chinese government and also the regional government of Inner Mongolia.
One anticipates the day when Mongolia becomes heralded as the academic center of its own heritage. Perhaps I'm giving too much credit to this report, but I don't think it's that far off base. Regardless, I wonder how scholars who are Mongolian would weigh in on this. Baabar, are you reading this?


Anonymous yan said...

C'mon, even the Secret History was discovered in Chinese archives. And it's not like there are no Mongolians in China either - most of them would even have better access to old Mongol scripts than Outer Mongolians.

9/15/2005 11:25 AM  
Blogger RML said...

As far as I can tell it's very much true. While Mongolian history, literature and culture are studied and researched in Mongolia, the amount of research and number of students/scholars are incomparable to the numbers in Inner-Mongolia/ China.

As galling it may be, Inner-Mongolia/ China holds much of Mongolian history, has large numbers of students and scholars, and are working harder at researching and teaching Mongolian Studies. Mongolia can only hope to catch up but it's like the Fiji Islands trying to catch up with the USA: nigh impossible.

This is not to say that much good and solid research is done in Mongolia. And people there are working hard at researching and teaching their own history, literature and culture.

One person trying his utmost is the poet G Mend-Ooyo. He's actively promoting Mongolian poetry, literature and culture in the USA now and organising the 26th World Congress of Poets, 2006. In combination with the new Gunu magazine and the celebrations next year, this is one event that should boast the standing of Mongolian culture, poetry and literature.

Shards of Mongolia

9/16/2005 6:48 AM  
Blogger IhMongol said...

what bothers me most about mongolian studies done by scholars who vow by and religously rely on chinese sources, especially since most of those so called sources are written in chinese and by chinese, who come on! have been enemies to mongols for centuries.
It is like say scholars learn the history of the first Gulf war from Iraqi "sources" only. We all can imagine what kind of history that could be!

That is the sad part of having a nomadic culture where we have no written records/encouncters of our own culture, historic events, and et. Almost everything about Mongolian history is written by outsiders be it enemy or friends, it is hard enough to learn the truth for the insiders how could the outsiders find the truth.

unfortunately, the current Mongolian scholars are like somebody studying history of mongolia and mongols hundreds of years from now based on this 900 or so page chinese book/text which was widely printed in the early 90s making a case that Mongolia is intrinsic part of China or it rightfully belongs to China or China's plan on reuniting motherland or what have you, and making judgment of the period based solely on that single "source" that happened to survive and only exist in that few hundred years from now future time. Then the other "source" saying that the Government of China officially apologized for such a book which it allowed to be printed despite its strict censures, it did allow the book printed, most likely will not have survived for those future mongol scholars.....

We all know not to trust all that we read in print, but there are certain scholars who vow by their chinese "sources" on the events in mongolian history. Come on. No wonder Chinggis Han has such a bad reputation, its encounters are written all by its enemies defeiters ..... one should look at what was happening in their backyards before Chinggis Han invaded them and after which unlike the current failur in certain region PEACE has reigned throughout the land that Chinggis Rule which some argue paved the way for peace, prosperity, trade, transfer of arts, crafts, knowledge and the Renaissance ....

One very important point: wherever Secret history was found at least it was written in MONGOLIAN LANGUAGE using chinese script, which i would assume messes things up quite a lot, especailly given how inner mongolians' names are so messed up on their passports since they have been written there using chinese characters.

9/22/2005 8:06 AM  
Blogger nabetz said...

Yan, Recall I didn't say that it wasn't true. I just said that I wished it wasn't true.

RML, thanks for the comments. I'll link to your blog soon, when I get a chance.

IhMongol, as always, we appreciate your comments. Very insightful, and clearly coming from someone who loves his country and has more than a mere curiosity. We'd love to have more Mongolian commentators like you join the conversation at this blog--that's why we created it in the first place, to have an English-language outlet for the Rest of the World to know what's going on in Mongolia and what Mongolians are thinking. Tell your friends.

10/03/2005 7:36 PM  
Anonymous Ariel Wyckoff said...

I'm inclined to agree with Ih Mongol, while also recognizing that Khokh-Khot in Inner Mongolia is doing a great deal of work and is certainly one of the top-tier cities for Mongol research. I've lived in Mongolia, (even married a Mongolian) and have done some research on the history and traditions.

While there are certainly a great number of Mongols living in Inner Mongolia (5 million identify as at least 1/2 Mongolian, isn't it?), many of the schools there have been dropping Mongolian language from their curriculums in favor of Manadarin Chinese. Children there are more and more being encouraged to conform to Chinese culture and values, and the more that China is writing the "authoritarian" and "groundbreaking" scholarly articles on Mongolian culture and history, the less likely it will be that future generations in Chinese Inner Mongolia will have a sympathetic view of their "barbarian" cousins to the North. (They still use that term at the Great Wall, by the way...)

Even Mongolian bands, such as HURD, that have been viewed as too "irridentist" have been denied permission to perform.

An excellent example of this dynamic was the recent TV series based on the life of Chinggis Khan made in Inner Mongolia. It had to be dubbed into Mongolian for the Mongolian public, from the Mandarin Chinese in which it was originally produced. Again, I don't deny that excellent research is being conducted in Inner Mongolia, but it seems to me to be straying closer and closer to distcinctly Chinese perspectives.

The big problem it seems is that the unviersities in Mongolia are not as well equipped as those elsewhere, in places like Bloomington, Indiana -- another source of Mongolia-related scholarship, by the way. And Mongolians don't have as much of a scholarly tradition as the Chinese. And the bottom line: Mongolia is a poorer country.

The element of this discussion, however, that I think Ih Mongol is stressing, and that ought not be down-played too much, is that China has demonstrated a tendency to Sinicize certain "foreign" elements of the history of the region as they relate to China. I read one book that went so far as to state that Chinggis Khan was from Inner Mongolia!

I suppose cultivating relationships with foreign universities with less of a vested interest in the area (than those in China) might be the only way Mongolia can become a leader in Mongolian Studies.

10/13/2005 11:19 AM  
Anonymous pal said...

I dont get this selection at all! it is hard for me.. but like i need to know a trajic historical event that happend in Mongolia. Thanks alot!

2/21/2006 2:27 PM  
Anonymous FU LOSER said...

i do not get it. grr.

2/21/2006 2:28 PM  
Anonymous OldMongol said...

I want to say first that I am a Mongolian born in Inner Mongolia, now living in the United States.

This blog is so biased against the Chinese, it makes the average Chinese want to invade Mongolia just from reading it.

Of course China is the leading country in Mongolian studies. There are MORE Mongolians in China than there are Mongolians in Mongolia. You Mongolians in Mongolia under your Russian masters are using the Cyrillic alphabet (and sometimes the Roman alphabet).

If you want to have someone to bash for wrongs against Mongolia, go bash the Russians or the near-extinct Manchurians.

3/12/2006 9:24 PM  
Blogger Balgansang said...

Inner Mongolia was Never Part of China

By Oyunbilig

Inner Mongolia, as a part of the Great Mongol Empire, had never been part of China. From the day Genghis khan founded the Great Mongol Empire in 1206 to the death of the last Grand Khan of the Mongols, Ligdan Khan in 1634, the Mongol nation had been an independent state for more than 400 years.

During the Ming Dynasty of China (1368-1644), the Mongols and the Chinese wared each other and tried to rule over each other, but the China's dominance had never reached beyond the Great Wall. Once the Mongols even captured an Emperor of China. (In 1449, Esen Taiji defeated Chinese army near Peking and took Chinese emperor Ying-tsung (or Ying Zong) prisoner). Also during the Ming dynasty, Fearing from the Mongol’s invasion, China took great efforts to rebuild the Chinese ancient fortification ---the " Ten thousand miles of " Great Wall. The Mongol Empire lasted outside of the Great Wall until the Jorchid (later known as Manchu) people took over the entire Inner Mongolia in 1634.

During the Manchu rule, the Mongols had never given up their effort to reestablish an independent Mongolia. Galdan Boshogtu (1645-1697) of Dzungar Mongol once succeeded to unite all the Dzungar Mongols (or western Mongols) and the Khalkha Mongols (Outer Mongols) and almost seized Peking, the Capital of the Manchu Empire.

In 1644, Manchu people took over entire China and Emperor Shuen-chih (or Shun-Zhi) proclaimed the Great Ching Empire (Tai Ching). We have enough reason to say that Mongolia was not part of China during this historical period of time, because Mongolia (Including Inner, Outer, Dzungar Mongols) and China were both ruled by a foreign nation during the time . Chinese people didn’t have their own state or government, and China, just like Mongolia, was part of the Empire established by the Manchu people.

In 1911, following the collapse of the Manchu Empire, there was a great chance for all the Mongols to reestablish a independent state once again. However, the Chinese warlords, took the advantage of the Mongol nation’s weakness at that time, tried to take the Mongols under their rule. After 10 years of strive, Outer Mongolia (or Khalkha Mongol) proclaimed their independence in 1921 as People's Republic of Mongolia. But Inner Mongolia, a major part of the Mongol land, was under the Chinese warlords’ tight control and hundreds of years of dream as an independent nation was unable to come true for millions of Mongols living in Inner Mongolia. It is injustice and outrageous that the Chinese, as soon as they gained their freedom, turned to rule over other nation.

Since China’s takeover of Inner Mongolia, millions of peasants were settled to Inner Mongolia. Excessive cultivation backed by the warlords turned the great grassland into vast desert. The Mongols, totally depended on the grassland to survive, were forced to abandon their homeland and move to remote places. Meanwhile, those people who held courage to fight for the freedom of their homeland eventually fell down under the guns of the invaders and buried into their beloved land. (Gada Meiren, "Shineh Lama "--- Uljijirgal and Togtokh Baator were the most famous heroes among them).

Prince Demchegdongrov (or De Wang, Teh Wang), however, almost succeeded in establishing an independent Inner Mongolia. Born as a direct descendent of Genghis Khan, he dedicated his whole life to establish a self-ruling, even an independent Inner Mongolia. On July 26, 1933, De Wang held his first Conference on Inner Mongolian Self-rule, declared the Inner Mongolian government as a highly self-ruling government. This self -ruling government lasted until 1945. By the end of the WWII, to force the Japanese to end the War, Soviet-Mongolian joint army entered into Inner Mongolia. Despite the Inner Mongolians expressed strong will to be an independent country, or even willing to reunite with Mongolia (Outer Mongolia), Joseph Stalin handed Inner Mongolia over to China, according to the Yalta treaty reached by the US, Great Britan and the Soviet Union.

On May 1, 1947, the Chinese Communist Party declared their first puppet Autonomous Region--- the current Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region after the PLA took control over most part of the Inner Mongolia. Since then, the Inner Mongolians suffered the most brutal rule they had ever experienced:

* Over 250,000 Mongols were killed and executed (It was almost 10% of the population at the time) and almost all of the thousands of Mongolian Buddhist temples were destroyed during the waves of political movements;
* The central government has settled large number of Chinese people into Inner Mongolia and the Mongols have became absolute minority in their homeland;
* Wanton agrarian practices by the Chinese settlers have caused severe desertification in Inner Mongolia and the region's ecological balance was totally destroyed;
* The central government has emptied the abundant natural resources of Inner Mongolia without any compensation to the Mongols;
* The Chinese government has totally destroyed the rich cultural heritages of the Mongols under the name of clearing feudalism;
* As a long-term policy of sinicization, the Chinese government has been forcing the Mongols to learn Chinese language and Chinese culture;
* Also as a policy of limiting the Mongol population, the Chinese government has been imposing birth control policy to the Mongols;
* In fearing of the Mongols’ opposition to their rule, Chinese government has been cracking down on any tiny signs of the "separatist" activities. They put thousands of Mongols into jail simply charging them of being "counterrevolutionaries" or " separatists", a crime exclusively designed for the minorities;
* Under the Chinese government’s slogan of " Political stability is the top priority", Inner Mongolia has become the most backward region in China;

It is very clear that Inner Mongolia was never part of China and, in fact, China never fairly treated the Inner Mongolians as a part of their own people.

3/21/2006 8:24 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

No worries guys.. Let me share this article with you.. Mandarin will still dominate...

When in Rome, why not let the Romans teach you?

In Huangshan Southern Anhui province in Eastern China, Fu Shou-Bing logs on to the computer in the public library near his village. Since discovering ( ), the retired High School Chemistry teacher has been logging on almost every day to the English-Chinese teaching website. Sometimes he cycles the 25 miles home, cooks himself a simple lunch of rice and stir-fried vegetables with salted fish, often returning once again to the library and his new hobby in the evening. boasts an educational website that teaches members conversational English or Chinese (no "this is an apple" stuff here) via video clips contributed by other members. After a vetting and often transcribing process by language tutors commissioned by the site, the clips are available free of charge in YouTube fashion. The twist? Members film each other in everyday activities, hoping other members will learn not just their native tongue, but also cultural innuendos lost in textbooks and more conventional means of language learning.

"One member filmed himself cooking in his kitchen. We got a few emails asking what condiments he used," says a bemused Warwick Hau, one of the site's more public faces. One emailer even wanted to know if she could achieve the same Chinese stir-fry using ingredients from her regular CR Vanguard supermarket. "We often forget our every day activities may not be as mundane to people on the other side of the world," Hau adds. Another such clip is "loaches" - a Chinese mother of 3 filmed her children and their friends playing with a bucket of loaches - slippery eel-like fish the children were picking up and gently squeezing between their fingers.

Lately the members have also begun to make cross-border friends and contacts. The ECpal function works much the same way sites like and work - members can invite each other to view their clips and make friends. And it has its fair share of juvenile humor as well. Farting Competition features two teenagers and graphic sound effects. Within several days, the clip was one of the most popular videos that week, likely due to mass-forwarding by the participants schoolmates.

For other members keen to learn more than the fact juvenile humor is similar everywhere, there are many home videos featuring unlikely little nuggets of wisdom. "The last thing I learned from the site is why you never find green caps for sale in China", says Adam Schiedler one of the English language contributors to the site. Green caps signify cuckolded husbands, particularly shameful in China as they are a huge loss of face. Adam vows not to buy any green headgear for his newfound friends.

The subject matter of the videos often speaks volumes about its contributors. Members choose their own content and film the clip wherever they please, some of their efforts drawing attention to rural surroundings and the quaint insides of little homes otherwise not seen unless you backpack your way thru the tiny dirt roads and villages along the Chinese countryside.

Idyllic countrysides and cooking lessons aside however, ECpod marries the latest video sharing technology with the old school way of teaching a language - from the native speakers on the street. It's a modern, more convenient alternative to spending 6 months in China. And why not let the Chinese teach you?


4/15/2008 1:34 AM  
Blogger samraat said...

4/04/2010 9:54 PM  

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