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Christopher P. Atwood

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Works of the poet and essayist Saichungga, a founder of modern Inner Mongolian literature, written in 1945 gave voice to the Japanese-sponsored nationalist mobilisation in Inner Mongolia during the final months of World War II. This article presents one unpublished essay and eight poems, reading them in the light of Saichungga’s cultural nationalism, which focused on moral renewal and scientific and cultural revival. Expressing the supersession of Buddhist ethics by incorporating its chief metaphors, Saichungga expresses his romantic vision of national regeneration with complementary dualities: youth and age, rootedness and restlessness, and male and female.

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Christopher P. Atwood

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Christopher P. Atwood

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From the first decade of Mongolian independence after 1911, nationalist publicists and officials denounced the dominance of foreign merchants and capital in the Mongolian economy. Officials and historians declared co-operatives to be the road for simultaneous improving the peoples' living standards and also strengthening national independence. Yet examination of statistics and the vigorous debates at the early party congresses and Great Khural meetings from 1924 to 1927 shows that the co-operatives were neither effective in their mandate nor popular with the herders they were intended to help. From the beginning, the co-operatives appear to have answered the needs of the new state more than those of the herding populace.

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Christopher P. Atwood

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Imperial Itinerance and Mobile Pastoralism

The State and Mobility in Medieval Inner Asia

Christopher P. Atwood

Mobility in pastoral societies has often been treated as either a necessity for efficient pastoral production or else as a method of avoiding state power. Yet both the examples of itinerance in medieval Europe and the attested itineraries of medieval Inner Asian rulers suggest that power projection, not power avoidance, was a key component of Turco-Mongolian imperial mobility. By using new historico-geographical evidence, the itineraries of several pre-Chinggisid and Mongol empire figures—Ong Qa’an, Batu, Ögedei, and Möngke—may be mapped. The results show that imperial itinerance must be distinguished from pastoral mobility. They also show that movement in vast agglomerations of mob-grazing herds was not just a temporary response to military crisis but continued long into the peacetime of the Mongol empire. These results challenge a functionalist understanding of mobility and state structures in Inner Asia.

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Christopher P. Atwood

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Christopher P. Atwood


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Within the Chinese religious market, Daoists and Confucians have often attempted to stigmatize Buddhism as a foreign religion. In the early Mongol Yuan dynasty (1206-1368), Daoist circulation of anti-Buddhist tracts such as Laozi huahu jing gave new life to these accusations, even as Buddhist and Daoist clergy came in conflict over government patronage and tax exemptions. Yet after the death of Qubilai Qa’an in 1294, conflicts over the application of Mongol clerical tax exemptions generated a new dynamic pitting the native clergy, Daoist and Buddhist, against the immigrant clergy, Muslim and Christian. Despite the presence of high-profile Tibetan Buddhists, the Buddhist clerical bureaucracy as a whole was able to picture Christian and Muslim clergy in ways that tapped into anti-immigrant feelings. This dynamic reached its apex in the policies of emperor Yisün-Temür (Taidingdi), who reigned from 1323 to 1328, and the reaction against them after his death. These tensions within the Mongol religious policy, which on paper treated the four main bodies of clergy (Buddhism, Christianity, Daoist, and Muslim) equally, shows the impact of the differing economic standpoint implicit in the native-immigrant dichotomy.


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Edited by Ákos Bertalan Apatóczky and Christopher P. Atwood

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Edited by Ákos Bertalan Apatóczky and Christopher P. Atwood