Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mongolia Lecture Series Inaugural Event

Co-Sponsored by the International Institute, Center for East Asian Studies, Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia, and American Center for Mongolian Studies.

Thursday, October 29, 2009, 5pm-7pm
At the Alumni Lounge in the Pyle Center (702 Langdon St.) on the UW-Madison Campus.

The lecture will be followed by the American Center for Mongolian Studies opening event and reception.

Ambassador designate to Mongolia Jonathan Addleton
"US-Mongolia Relations: Looking Forward, Looking Back"

Ambassador designate to Mongolia Jonathan Addleton will offer reflections on past encounters with Mongolia during his prior assignment as USAID Mission Director in Ulaanbaatar (2001-2004) -- and provide a perspective on future opportunities and challenges that are likely to dominate US-Mongolia relations in the years ahead. Drawing to some extent on recent Senate confirmation hearings, he will focus especially on five areas: development; private investment; democracy and good governance; security; and people-to-people relationships. Scheduled to depart for Ulaanbaatar in mid-November, his participation at the opening of the American Center for Mongolia Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison marks his first appearance at an external event since being confirmed as the next US Ambassador to Mongolia earlier this year.

Mr. Addleton has been a career member of the US Foreign Service since 1984. Previous assignments include service as USAID Representative to the European Union in Belgium; USAID Mission Director in Pakistan, Cambodia and Mongolia; and USAID Program Officer in Jordan, Kazakhstan, South Africa and Yemen. During his previous three-year tenure in Mongolia (2001-2004), he traveled extensively within the country and was involved in a number of USAID-funded programs, including the revitalization of Xaan Bank as well as small business development through the Ger and Gobi initiatives.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service, Addleton worked briefly at the World Bank and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, both in Washington, DC. He has a PhD and MA from Tufts University and a BS from Northwestern University. He has written two books, "Some Far and Distant Place" (University of Georgia Press), a memoir of a childhood spent largely in Pakistan; and "Undermining the Center" (Oxford University Press), an assessment of the impact of international migration on development. In addition, he has published articles on Asia in a variety of journals, including "Asian Survey," "Asian Affairs," "Muslim World," and the "Foreign Service Journal.”

Mongolia Lecture Series aims to promote discourse and sharing of knowledge about Mongolia and the Inner Asian Region and is organized by Center for East Asian Studies and American Center for Mongolian Studies

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Online Mongolian Dictionary

A student at University of Wisconsin-Madison brought a handy resource to my attention yesterday. It is an online Mongolian dictionary which appears to derive its entries through contributions from the user community. I have only taken a cursory look at it so far, but my initial impressions are good. It is a testament to the ever growing sophistication of modern Mongolia. The dictionary is at:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Oyu Tolgoi: End of the Beginning

It is official. Mongolia and Ivanhoe Mines are married. On October 6th the government of Mongolia signed the long debated investment agreement with Ivanhoe and Rio Tinto to develop the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold deposit.

In an ideal world the government would begin or would have already begun developing policy to go along with its new found cash flow. It will be interesting to see what they come up with beyond giving cash handouts of $1,000 per person. If my opinion counted, I would suggest public works projects for a working drainage system in Ulaanbaatar, real urban planning in the city that included parks and streets in the ger districts, rebuilding of wells across the countryside, and investment in the education sector as a start. But that is neither here nor there because I can't vote.

For now, I presume, the focus will turn to developing the mine site and the infrastructure to support it--not to mention the new gold rush mentality that will sweep the country as entrepreneurs and laborers head to the Gobi to seek their fortune. The last 5 years in Mongolia were wild enough with economic growth almost exclusively built upon speculation of great riches once the Oyu Tolgoi agreement was signed. Now with the prospect of real investment and substantial cash flow on the horizon one can only imagine the mad euphoria of get rich quick schemes that will grip every last person in Mongolia. These are heady times for sure.

Over the summer I had a chance to visit the Oyu Tolgoi site with a group of 15 Fulbright-Hays fellows from the US. Ivanhoe was very accommodating, and the camp manager provided us with an extensive tour of the facilities and area around the site. Oyu Tolgoi is situated in the least densely populated province in one of the least densely populated countries in the world. It is isolated to say the least. And yet, in this isolated corner of the world first-class economic and industrial activity is occurring. Although we visited at a low ebb of operations due to tense summer negotiations between Ivanhoe and the government, I was roundly impressed by the size and sheer magnitude of the project. It is a stunning contrast to just about everything else going on in the country, and at this point it's only in the initial stages of development. There is much, much more to come.

Of course there is a lot to consider beyond the development of the site itself. Water will be a huge issue. The site will demand a lot of water in a region that has very little. In-migration unregulated and unstoppable on a level commensurate with Ulaanbaatar is another serious issue. It is a desolate place now, but soon it could be a patchwork of ger districts in the desert. Then there is the inevitable and potentially accelerated encroachment of Chinese and Russian influence on Mongolia. It's enough copper and gold to attract more than just domestic prospectors.

When you see it, Oyu Tolgoi boggles the mind. It is going to be huge. A size unlike Mongolia has any experience with, and the next few years are going to be a wild ride with both positive and negative consequences. October 6th, 2009 marked the end of the beginning. Now the real work will begin.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fellowships for Mongolia Specialists

The US Department of Education has recently announced competitions for research fellowships in which specialists working in Mongolia are eligible to apply. More information is available at:

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Abroad Fellowship Program

Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Abroad Fellowship Program

East/Southeast Asian Archaeology and Early History

University of Wisconsin-Madison has posted a couple of lecturer and tenure track positions recently for specialists in East Asian archeology and early history. Those out there who have experience doing excavations and other field work in Inner Asia, especially Mongolia, should consider applying. More information about the positions is at

Monday, October 5, 2009

ACMS Fall Speaker Series

ACMS Fall Speaker Series has begun. For information about the scheduled lectures visit: Check back regularly for updates to the schedule.

If you are planning to visit Mongolia between October and December 2009 to conduct research or study, please contact to schedule a date to give a lectures. The lectures must be conducted in English, and all academic disciplines are welcome.

CAORC Multi-Country Research Fellowship 2009 - 2010

The Council of American Overseas Research Centers (CAORC) Multi-Country Fellowship Program supports advanced regional or trans-regional research in the humanities, social sciences, or allied natural sciences for U.S. doctoral candidates and scholars who have already earned their Ph.D. Preference will be given to candidates examining comparative and/or cross-regional research. Applicants are eligible to apply as individuals or in teams.

For more information about the program visit the announcements page of the ACMS website.