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Inner Asian & Uralic National Resource Center (IAUNRC) Sinor Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies (SRIFIAS) Center for Languages of the Central Asian Region (CeLCAR) Summer Language Workshop (SWSEEL)
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Modern Inner Mongolia
CEUS-R 462/662
Christopher Atwood

This course carries CASE S&H designation

What region in the world has the largest population of ethnic Mongols? What region in Chinese was the first testing ground for the Chinese Communist minority policy? What region in China has had the most lasting impact from the Japanese occupation during World War II? What region of the world produces the largest part of the world’s cashmere and most of its rare earths? Which region in China suffered the most in the Cultural Revolution? The answer to all these questions is: Inner Mongolia.

This seminar explores the sociology, politics, environment, history, and literature of Inner Mongolia from the late 19th century to the present. Issues explored include changes in pastoral society, Chinese immigration into the steppe, farm lands, and cities, sociology of Chinese cities, ethnic interaction between Mongols and Chinese, environmental degradation and protection, contemporary politics and dissidence, the “East Mongolian Enlightenment,” nationalism and pan-Mongolist movements, the Japanese occupation and the Chinese Civil War, and the Cultural Revolution.

Throughout the class, students will be encouraged to use the case of Inner Mongolia to rethink important issues of ethnic relations, state-building, and globalization in both Inner Asian and Chinese contexts.

Assignments and Grades
All students are expected to complete the readings by Thursday of the week and participate actively in discussion. All students will also complete reading reviews, discussing the reading for the week and consisting of two double spaced typed pages. Reviews are due each Thursday in class (unless otherwise specified) and will be marked on a pass/fail basis.

Undergraduates will also complete a 4-8 page take-home midterm using the readings to answer general questions on contemporary Inner Mongolia, and a 4-8 page take-home final using the readings to answer general questions on Inner Mongolian history from 1850 to 1980.

Graduate students will write a term paper of 15-20 pages, based on independent research and covering a modern Inner Mongolian topic chosen together with the professor. In the final week graduate students will present drafts of their papers, which will be critiqued by other students and by the instructor.

Undergraduate grades are based on class participation and reading reviews (together 30%), take-home midterm (30%), and take hom final (40%).

Graduate grades are based on class participation, reading reviews (together 40%), and a final paper of at least 15 pages (60%).


The readings cover a variety of topics first touching on present-day (post-1979) Inner Mongolia and then going back to the nineteenth century and forward to the Cultural Revolution. Social anthropology, environmental studies, history, geography, education, and literary criticism are all represent as disciplines.

Cowboy in Mongolia

There is a website containing the lectures from a former lecture-based version of this class, which may be helpful to students: