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[book] A Monastery on the Move

A Monastery on the Move: Art and Politics in Later Buddhist Mongolia

Uranchimeg Tsultemin. A Monastery on the Move: Art and Politics in Later Buddhist Mongolia.

«In 1639, while the Géluk School of the Fifth Dalai Lama and Qing emperors vied for supreme authority in Inner Asia, Zanabazar (1635–1723), a young descendent of Chinggis Khaan, was proclaimed the new Jebtsundampa ruler of the Khalkha Mongols. Over the next three centuries, the ger (yurt) erected to commemorate this event would become the mobile monastery Ikh Khüree, the political seat of the Jebtsundampas and a major center of Mongolian Buddhism. When the monastery and its surrounding structures were destroyed in the 1930s, they were rebuilt and renamed Ulaanbaatar, the modern-day capital of Mongolia.

Based on little-known works of Mongolian Buddhist art and architecture, A Monastery on the Move presents the intricate and colorful history of Ikh Khüree and of Zanabazar, himself an eminent artist. Author Uranchimeg Tsultemin makes the case for a multifaceted understanding of Mongol agency during the Géluk’s political ascendancy and the Qing appropriation of the Mongol concept of dual rulership (shashin tör) as the nominal “Buddhist Government.” In rich conversation with heretofore unpublished textual, archeological, and archival sources (including ritualized oral histories), Uranchimeg argues that the Qing emperors’ “Buddhist Government” was distinctly different from the Mongol vision of sovereignty, which held Zanabazar and his succeeding Jebtsundampa reincarnates to be Mongolia’s rightful rulers. This vision culminated in their independence from the Qing and the establishment of the Jebtsundampa’s theocractic government in 1911.

A groundbreaking work, A Monastery on the Move provides a fascinating, in-depth analysis and interpretation of Mongolian Buddhist art and its role in shaping borders and shifting powers in Inner Asia.»

[books] Mobility and Displacement

Mobility and Displacement : Nomadism, Identity and Postcolonial Narratives in Mongolia book cover
Cover

Orhon Myadar. Mobility and Displacement. Nomadism, Identity and Postcolonial Narratives in Mongolia.

«This book explores and contests both outsiders’ projections of Mongolia and the self-objectifying tropes Mongolians routinely deploy to represent their own country as a land of nomads.

It speaks to the experiences of many societies and cultures that are routinely treated as exotic, romantic, primitive or otherwise different and Other in Euro-American imaginaries, and how these imaginaries are also internally produced by those societies themselves. The assumption that Mongolia is a nomadic nation is largely predicated upon Mongolia’s environmental and climatic conditions, which are understood to make Mongolia suitable for little else than pastoral nomadism. But to the contrary, the majority of Mongolians have been settled in and around cities and small population centers. Even Mongolians who are herders have long been unable to move freely in a smooth space, as dictated by the needs of their herds, and as they would as free-roaming «nomads.» Instead, they have been subjected to various constraints across time that have significantly limited their movement. The book weaves threads from disparate branches of Mongolian studies to expose various visible and invisible constraints on population mobility in Mongolia from the Qing period to the post-socialist era.  

With its in-depth analysis of the complexities of the relationship between land rights, mobility, displacement, and the state, the book makes a valuable contribution to the fields of cultural geography, political geography, heritage and culture studies, as well as Eurasian and Inner-Asian Studies.»

[Book] Politics and Literature in Mongolia (1921-1948)

Politics and Literature in Mongolia (1921-1948)Simon Wickhamsmith. Politics and Literature in Mongolia (1921-1948).
«Politics and Literature in Mongolia (1921-1948) investigates the relationship between literature and politics during Mongolia’s early revolutionary period. Between the 1921 socialist revolution and the first Writers’ Congress held in April 1948, the literary community constituted a key resource in the formation and implementation of policy. At the same time, debates within the party, discontent among the population, and questions of religion and tradition led to personal and ideological conflict among the intelligentsia and, in many cases, to trials and executions. Using primary texts, many of them translated into English for the first time, Simon Wickhamsmith shows the role played by the literary arts — poetry, fiction and drama — in the complex development of the ‘new society’, helping to bring Mongolia’s nomadic herding population into the utopia of equality, industrial progress and social well-being promised by the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party.»

Mongolian Buddhism in the Modern World

[Конференция] Культурное наследие монголов: рукописные и архивные собрания

19-21 апреля 2021 года состоится пятая международная конференция «КУЛЬТУРНОЕ НАСЛЕДИЕ МОНГОЛОВ: РУКОПИСНЫЕ И АРХИВНЫЕ СОБРАНИЯ» при поддержке президента Монголии.

Организаторы:

  • Институт восточных рукописей РАН,
  • Институт истории и этнографии МАН,
  • Международная ассоциация монголоведов.

При участии: Центрального Национального архива Монголии,
Национальной библиотеки Монголии
Монгольского государственного университета
Института языка и литературы МАН
Государственного Эрмитажа РФ
Санкт-Петербургского государственного университета РФ

Место проведения: Институт восточных рукописей РАН
(Россия, Санкт-Петербург).

Цель конференции – продолжить обмен информацией и идеями по изучению уникальных рукописных и архивных памятников богатейшего духовного и культурного наследия монгольского народа, хранящегося в России, Монголии, Китае, Японии и странах Запада.

Главные задачи конференции – ввести в научных оборот не известные до настоящего времени письменные памятники культуры монгольских народов, показать возможности современных методов исследования и подходов к их изучению. Особое внимание уделяется проблемам историографии, источниковедения, методам исторического исследования и архивоведению.

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[Links] Bilingual Education in Inner Mongolia

Protesters gather in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of neighbouring Mongolia, against China’s plan to introduce Mandarin-only classes in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia.

Buddhism & Psychology

«Buddhist communities in the United States and beyond have been shaped by psychological interpretation for nearly two centuries. Leading Asian Buddhist figures and leaders of Asian Buddhist communities used psychological theories to legitimate and explain their teachings—from Dharmapāla and Soen in the 19th century to Suzuki and Nyanaponika in the 20th century and to the Dalai Lama in the 21st century. US “convert” Buddhist communities, from the Zen Centers of the 1950s and 1960s to the so-called “insight” meditation groups of the 1990s, often simply assumed without discussion that Buddhist concepts such as rebirth should be viewed as psychological metaphors. These communities may not have always consciously drawn on psychological frames in their practice of a Buddhism that was understood to be, by definition, fundamentally psychological (as discussed in “Discovery of the Psychological Buddhism”). However, a marked turn was taken through the 1990s as a growing number of voices began to advocate explicitly for the active use of psychotherapeutic insights and practices within Buddhist communities.

Contemporary psychoanalytic clinician Paul Cooper suggests that the psychotherapeutic process can help unblock unconscious material that can otherwise thwart Buddhist meditators. Meanwhile, as Ann Gleig has discussed, “teacher scandals” are often cited as a prime example of how psychotherapeutic, and specifically psychoanalytic, theories can be essential for Buddhist communities. Psychoanalytic teachings, it is suggested, can help these communities work through the idealization of authority figures and transform an unhealthy repression of sexual desire into creative sublimation. Claims that psychodynamic concepts could be of benefit have not only come from psychologists who may be inclined to think their work has utility.»
Ira Helderman. Psychological Interpreters of Buddhism

[book] Subjective Lives and Economic Transformations in Mongolia

Rebecca M. Empson. Subjective Lives and Economic Transformations in Mongolia. Life in the Gap.

Subjective Lives and Economic Transformations in Mongolia details this complex story through the intimate lives of five women. Building on long-term friendships, which span over 20 years, Rebecca documents their personal journeys in an ever-shifting landscape. She reveals how these women use experiences of living a ‘life in the gap’ to survive the hard reality between desired outcomes and their actual daily lives. In doing so, she offers a completely different picture from that presented by economists and statisticians of what it is like to live in this fluctuating extractive economy.

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[books] The Buddha’s Footprint

Johan Elverskog. The Buddha’s Footprint: An Environmental History of Asia.
buddhas_foot_«In the current popular imagination, Buddhism is often understood to be a religion intrinsically concerned with the environment. The Dharma, the name given to Buddhist teachings by Buddhists, states that all things are interconnected. Therefore, Buddhists are perceived as extending compassion beyond people and animals to include plants and the earth itself out of a concern for the total living environment. In The Buddha’s Footprint, Johan Elverskog contends that only by jettisoning this contemporary image of Buddhism as a purely ascetic and apolitical tradition of contemplation can we see the true nature of the Dharma. According to Elverskog, Buddhism is, in fact, an expansive religious and political system premised on generating wealth through the exploitation of natural resources.
Elverskog surveys the expansion of Buddhism across Asia in the period between 500 BCE and 1500 CE, when Buddhist institutions were built from Iran and Azerbaijan in the west, to Kazakhstan and Siberia in the north, Japan in the east, and Sri Lanka and Indonesia in the south. He examines the prosperity theology at the heart of the Dharma that declared riches to be a sign of good karma and the means by which spritiual status could be elevated through donations bequeathed to Buddhist institutions. He demonstrates how this scriptural tradition propelled Buddhists to seek wealth and power across Asia and to exploit both the people and the environment.

Elverskog shows the ways in which Buddhist expansion not only entailed the displacement of local gods and myths with those of the Dharma—as was the case with Christianity and Islam—but also involved fundamentally transforming earlier social and political structures and networks of economic exchange. The Buddha’s Footprint argues that the institutionalization of the Dharma was intimately connected to agricultural expansion, resource extraction, deforestation, urbanization, and the monumentalization of Buddhism itself.»

Монголия между Далай-ламой и Пекином

Любопытная заметка — Dragged into a Power Struggle: Mongolia caught between the Dalai Lama and Beijing — о том, как Китай пытается решить проблему со следующим Далай-ламой и о месте Монголии в этом.

В январе в США приняли Tibetan Policy and Support Act, согласно которому любое вмешательство КНР в определение следующего Далай-ламы будет рассматриваться как нарушение прав человека и т.п. В контексте нынешнего ухудшения американо-китайских отношений это особенно интересно. Правда, пока этот вопрос станет актуальным — долгих лет жизни нынешнему Далай-ламе — все может поменяться. Но то, что тибетский вопрос на Западе давно стал инструментом давления на Китай — это факт.

urn

Автор пишет, что визит Далай-ламы в Монголию в 2016 г. для определения 10 Богдо-гэгэна поломал китайцам их золотую урну, т.е. попытки контролировать перерожденцев — прежде все Богдо-гэгэны, кроме первых двух, были тибетцами и выбирались при участии маньчжуров (кроме девятого). Китайская логика тут простая — мы раньше контролировали перерожденцев во времена Цинской империи, это традиция, поэтому «можем повторить». Однако проблема тут в том, что Цинская империя — это не китайская империя (см. статью Дмитриева С.В. и Кузьмина С.Л.), поэтому претензии КНР на управление перерожденцами сомнительна не только с моральной, но и с исторической точки зрения.

Далее. Ситуация сложнее, т.к. помимо Монголии касается — в меньшей степени — и России, т.к. у нас тоже есть перерожденцы и последователи тибетского буддизма.

Десятый Богдо-гэгэн потенциально, конечно, представляет угрозу китайским попыткам контролировать перерожденцев, т.к. будет высшим легитимным иерархом в тибетском буддизме традиции гелуг и, скорее всего, сможет сам определять и утверждать перерожденцев. Но в то же время — поскольку монголы не заинтересованы в обострении отношений с КНР — он может усилить независимость  монгольской сангхи и дистанцировать ее от тибетских дел.

Я писал в своей статье, что для Монголии тут вообще открываются хорошие перспективы проявить свою субъектность и занять лидирующее положение в мире тибето-монгольского буддизма.