Previous Speakers (2016)

May 10, 2016 – Starting at 5:30 pm

What can a single building in central Ulaanbaatar reveal about the bricolage of social, political and material transformations at play within in Ulaanbaatar today?

In the wake of socialism and colonialism, a rich vein of transitology offers us array of concepts through which to render the potentialities of space, place, networks and meanings as they are yoked to temporal transformations. Amidst a burgeoning discourse on urban planning in Ulaanbaatar, I present this paper as a means to initiate discussion on the very material basis of emergent and unintended transformations in a rapidly developing urban society.

The grey carcass of the building in question looms imposingly over the political, cultural and now bustling business heart of the Mongolian Capital. Straining skywards since the height of a mining-led investment boom in Mongolia, the structure currently stands unfinished and dormant, ringed by diminutive apartment buildings that once housed high-ranking members of socialist society. As the construction protrudes from one of the most intensive sites of socialism in Mongolia, it has attracted questions over legitimacy of land transfers and planning permissions within the capital.

In tracing the swimming potentialities of this structure single structure, we can witness how it continues to invoke peculiar intensities of political networks that emerged from the socialist political economy as arteries and organs that can no longer function to support an ideal body, if they ever fully did. From and with these disrupted material and social remnants, a new array of forms also continues to emerge, which themselves remain visibly incomplete or decaying vis-à-vis their idealized natures.

Following these trajectories, this paper initiates discussion of a politics of urban development that draws epistemological and ethical import from the capacity to productively resist closure, excavate interiority and render salient the contradictions that beset and are productively constitutive of an array of new ideal and wholesome forms of politics, space and society in Ulaanbaatar.

March 22, 2016 – Starting 5:30 PM

In addition to historical documents, archaeological excavations are one of the most important sources for information on the ancient history of Mongolia. Results of excavations at the site of Airagiin Gozgor in Jargalant sum, Orkhon province will shed new light on Mongolian ancestors and clarify our understanding of Mongolia. This project excavated 9 tombs over 2 years that display evidence of unique ritual practices. These tombs are quite different than other tombs excavated in the territory of Mongolia. Preliminary results suggest that tombs date back to the end of Xiongnu Empire to subsequent nomads.

March 1, 2016 – Starting 5:30 PM

Mongolia is uniquely located in the heart of the Asian landmass and as a consequence this geographic location facilitates one of the strongest continental climates on earth. Largely governed by its unique climate, Mongolia is a water restricted country. Despite Mongolia’s limited access to water, the country has been rapidly developing water dependent economies including mining, livestock, and agriculture. This talk will discuss the progression of Mongolia’s climate from the Pleistocene to the present with special respect to lakes and glaciations and how Mongolia’s water availability has been influenced over time. More importantly, this talk will describe the future sustainability of Mongolia’s economic sectors as its climate continues to evolve.

February 16, 2016 – Starting 5:30 PM

Based on his current research, Mr. Staszewski will be presenting recent videos and recordings showcasing how nature is the central theme and inspiration for Mongolian music and song. Examining the similarities and differences of music traditions from different Aimags, he is exploring what makes local traditional music uniquely Mongolian.

January 26, 2016 – Starting 5:30 PM

Mining and corruption are frequently discussed topics in Mongolia, but how do the rules and politics governing Mongolia’s extractive sector compare to other countries internationally? And, what historical factors have led to these differences? Ms. Menard will discuss how Mongolia’s post-Soviet transition contributed to the political and economic climate of Mongolia’s extractive sector today, and what it means for the country’s future.

onmovemongoliaThere I was, an Indian woman on the move in Mongolia – and it didn’t feel strange. So much resonated – especially the voices of other women – like Monjago, a herder, Munkhtsetseg, a horse trainer, Onika, a student, Amgalan, a language teacher and Jainaa, a singer. They made faraway feel like home.

Sounds for these segments were collected on a 2007 US Fulbright research fellowship.

Produced for Outer Voices which weaves unheard stories from remote parts of the world into contemporary media to educate, support and inspire others to action.

Story Consultant/Executive Producer: Stephanie Guyer-Stevens

Producer/Researcher: Shebana Coelho

Additional Translations: Munkhzul Dorjsuren, Oyu Choijamts, Delgerjargal Uvsh

Post-production funding by The Lucius and Eva Eastman Fund, The Shelley and Donald Rubin Foundation.

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January 12, 2016 – Starting 5:30 PM

Since the 1990s, Hollywood films and Western literature have been seeing a great consumption in, among other countries, Mongolia. And it has been quite an experience for this speaker to find the words Mongol or Genghis or Kublai or Ulan Bator referenced in works of international art with certain connotations. This presentation lists and analyzes Mongolia-related references in films, books and songs in the U.S.–and to a certain extent–Western pop culture. Some references include: Citizen Kane and Conan the Barbarian in films; Robert Heinlein, Herman Melville, and Stephen King in books; and Eminem and Kanye West in music.

Previous Speakers – 2015

November 30, 2015 – Starting 5:30 PM

Dr. Altman will give an informal talk about her work with and for Mongolians here and in the USA. For the past 10 years Dr. Altman has been mentoring and lecturing on leadership and community development throughout Mongolia.