Skip navigation
The Australian National University

Research projects

Inner Mongolia: Searching for Nationhood
Li Narangoa

This book project examines the national aspirations of Inner Mongols in the first half of the 20th century. It focuses on their engagement with opportunities and threats presented by the Chinese Republic, imperial Japan, the Soviet Union and Mongol movements elsewhere.

Historical Atlas of Northeast Asia 1590-2010
Li Narangoa and Robert Cribb

This historical atlas traces the political history of Mongolia, Manchuria, Korea and Eastern Siberia from the late 16th century to the early 21st century. The project is supported by the Australian Research Council.

‘Puppet States’ Re-examined: Sovereign Subordination and World Politics
Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa

This project addresses the difficulty faced by International history in conceptualizing unequal relations between sovereign powers. We understand that there are great disparities in power between states, and that these disparities mean that some states are in some respects subordinate to others, but characterizing this subordination remains problematic. Various terms are available to denote sovereign subordination - client, vassal, satellite, puppet, protectorate, tributary, neo-colony, ally - but in general these terms are used loosely, and they often carry judgemental baggage. That is to say, they impugn the claimed reality of the sovereignty or independence of the subordinate state.

In this project we explore the character of sovereign subordination by focussing on puppet states. We argue that puppet states can be defined as ostensibly sovereign states which have been created from the sovereign territory of a state by the intervention of a third, external state. One of the key features of a puppet state is that it did not exist as a sovereign state before external intervention. If a previously existing sovereign state is dominated or controlled by an outside power, it may be considered to have a puppet government, but it is not a puppet state. Puppet states characteristically emerge on the border between an old empire and a new one. They invariably appeal to unfulfilled aspirations for national self-determination and they reflect the growing power of the doctrine of national self-determination in international affairs. As part of this project we examine the international politics of the foundation of new states in Mongolia, Tuva, Manchuria and Siberia.

The Western Mongols in the 20th Century
David Brophy

David is conducting research on the history of the Mongols of Xinjiang from the fall of the Qing to the founding of the PRC. His work explores historical links between Xinjiang, the Soviet Union, and Mongolia, and investigates the shift from Qing traditions of authority towards new centralised systems of ethnic representation in Inner Asia.

Archaeological Stable Isotopes of Eastern Mongolia Pilot Project
Jack N. Fenner

"We use analysis of carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios to assess dietary differences among elite and non-elite Mongols during the Mongol Empire. We will measure ratios in archaeological human and livestock bone collagen to determine the relative amounts of C3/C4 plants at the base of the diet and the human trophic level in eastern Mongolia. Millet is likely to be the primary source of C4 carbon ratios in the diet (although the amount of native C4 grasses in the region is uncertain) so carbon isotope ratios may be used to trace its influence. Nitrogen isotope ratios increase with trophic level so a comparison between human and livestock ratios can provide information about the relative portions of meat and plants in the human diet."

A Multi-species, Etho-ethnographic Approach to Filmmaking in Mongolia
Natasha Fijn

Natasha is currently working on publishing material in relation to her use of video as a research tool and how observational filmmaking was important as a means of communicating her human-animal related research based in Mongolia.

» View some of the video segments featuring Natasha's research in Mongolia

Supplement to the ‘Secret History of the Mongols’
Igor de Rachewilz

This book project is the 'Supplement' volume of Vol. 3 of the 'Secret History of the Mongols' that the author translated in 2004. In this volume, the author revises and expands both the translation and the commentary with the inclusion of all the relevant material that has been published since 2003/4, especially in Mongolia, China, Japan and Korea. This volume will be about 300 pages, with some illustrations, and will be published by Brill, Leiden.

Nuclear nonproliferation and Disarmament
Maria Rost Rublee

Through a grant from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr Rublee is investigating how norm entrepreneurs (advocates who seek to "sell" their normative judgments so they are incorporated into policy) have influenced nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament in a number of countries, including Mongolia. The Mongolian project examines the process by which the country became the first single-state nuclear weapons free zone. Who were the important actors, what methods did they use, and what barriers did they face? Additionally, the project examines how the Mongolian success influenced not only Mongolian perceptions of security, but also the efforts to achieve a nuclear weapons free zone in Central Asia.

Updated:  20 February 2015/Responsible Officer:  Head, Mongolian Studies Centre /Page Contact:  CHL webmaster