MANDUKHAI BUYANDELGER, DOCTOR (PH.D), HARVARD UNIVERSITY, Associate Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Zindaa” magazine №07 / 507, 2017 (pages 55-63) WORLD MONGOLIA / officially delivered from the corner / He holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University and is an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technolog MANDUKHAI Buyandelger: ANTHROPOLOGY IS STUDYED BY SYSTEMS BECAUSE I MEET MANY PEOPLE AND STUDY FOR MANY YEARS Mandukhai Buyandelger, Ph.D. from Harvard University and Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was invited to the World Mongolia section of Zindaa magazine. It’s been nine years since we first met on Skype. Interviewed by Ts. Oyunchimeg / Watch in PDF format/ How are you? Thank you for taking the time to accept our magazine invitation. Let’s start with the topic of dreams. As a child, did you ever dare to dream of today’s success? What profession did you want to pursue when you were young? Congratulations to the staff of Zindaa magazine. During the socialist era, when I was a third-grader in Russia, I dreamed of becoming a writer. My mother, Menget Buyandelger, is a journalist. My mother’s profession may also have played a role. I grew up reading European literature. I thought, “You need heavenly talent to write literature.” (laughs) But my interest in literature helped me write anthropology and science. Most writers say, “1 percent talent, 99 percent hard work.” I later realized that it had a bed when I wrote a book. What profession did you choose when you dreamed of becoming a writer? Will you go to the Russian University of Literature and become a literary critic? I was faced with two choices: to study in a Mongolian linguistics class or to find a reason. The late 1980s were a time of national revival. I chose to enroll in the Mongolian language class at the National University of Mongolia. After graduating from the Mongolian language class, I thought I would become a writer. (laughs) But as soon as I entered the National University of Mongolia, a democratic movement emerged and a lot of changes took place in our country. So I started thinking about how to write about this change, rather than fiction. I felt the need for a new theory and a new approach. When did you graduate from the National University of Mongolia? After graduating from the Mongolian language class in January 1994, I studied for three semesters until June 1995 and became one of the first masters. He taught us teaching methods, research methods, computer science, took exams in the subjects he studied, and earned a master’s degree in linguistics. I wonder how your path to America was opened? In 1993, while attending a student research conference, the Cultural Attaché of the US Embassy, ​​Dr. Anne Wellden and her translator, Tina, were present. At that time, I added a section on Mongolian folklore and explained it. Anne Wellden then called me through a translator, Tina. “What do you do, what are your interests?” He asked. “Why don’t you study anthropology?” that is. At the time, I didn’t even know what anthropology was. (laughs) I was told, “Take the exam. Interested in learning to go abroad? ” He said yes. I took the TOEFL and then the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). I prepared both and gave them twice. Was it difficult to take the exam? The three-part GRE test is administered by anyone seeking a Ph.D. or Master’s degree. Mathematics is taught at a high level in our country, so I passed without much preparation. I had to prepare a lot of English to get into college. The logic was very difficult. But I got the points. Write a fairly detailed essay on what you want to learn in the doctoral program and why. All this is being done while studying at the National University of Mongolia. That’s what it’s like to enroll in a doctoral program and take a Fulbright scholarship exam. (laughs) How did you choose your school? Dr. Anne Wellen and Fulbright Headquarters in New York, in consultation, sent my application to four or five schools. Suggestions came from three schools. In order to save money, Fulbright always sent students to public schools at that time. Tuition is cheaper than good public and private schools. “The anthropology program is good, this school is for you.” said Dr. Following Anne Wellden’s advice, she chose SUNY Albany University in New York State. Before the doctoral program began, I was sent to summer training in Boston. I first went there when I was 22 years old. I don’t know how to write a check, use a bank, use a computer or a library. It all started from scratch. At that time, there was a big development gap between Mongolia and the United States. How long did you study in Boston? I had to go to school for 45 days at Boston University. One of the friends I met there was an interested in Mongolia and a Ph.D. in Russian studies. “There is a professor at Harvard who studies Mongolian history. You meet that person. ” That professor was Nicola Di Cosmo, a Manchu and Mongolian historian. He realized that I was interested in doing a Ph.D with him. “Just come here. You speak Mongolian, Russian, English, read Tibetan, and speak French. Now, if you learn Chinese, you will become a scholar. Come to Harvard and do a Ph.D. in our East Asian Studies department. ” I called Fulbright and said, “Harvard University charges twice as much as SUNY Albany in New York. Fulbright will not pay extra. ” I told Professor Nicola Di Cosmo, “I can’t move.” But the professor said, “You take the Harvard exam. Fill out the application late. I’m asking Harvard for money. ” After passing the exam, Harvard was given extra money. The man who came to study anthropology became a student of a history teacher. However, 1995 was a turbulent period of transition in Mongolia. Many events are taking place in Mongolia. I still dreamed of writing about it. But as I studied and read the kings and princes of the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries, it seemed strange, and at least included. I said to my teacher, “I want to study anthropology.” Do both. You can. ” How did the American curriculum differ from the Mongolian curriculum? The load is too much. For the first time, it felt like a one-year course in Mongolia was taught in the United States in one month. The method of teaching for doctoral students is very different. The teacher is only responsible for guidance. I read my lessons using an English-Russian dictionary, it’s very difficult. It’s strange to study in the Department of Anthropology, in the Department of History, in the Department of East Asian Studies, and in the intensive Chinese language course. I don’t even have time to sleep. I can’t sleep, I can’t finish my studies, I have so many lessons. There is no one who speaks Mongolian. I cried almost every night after school. When did you specialize in anthropology? An anthropologist told me, “If you want to be an anthropologist, you have to be with anthropologists.” (That means he’s a full-time student in our department.) Again, I filled out a multi-page application, wrote an essay, and took an exam. The department told me, “Harvard’s Department of Anthropology has five Ph.D. students a year, preferably six. Therefore, you should submit your application to other universities’ Ph.D programs in Anthropology. ” For the first time, I’m giving myself back. I thought, “Well, if Harvard’s Department of Anthropology doesn’t hire me, I’ll stay in the Department of East Asian Studies.” Professor Nicola Di Cosmo also persuaded me in various ways to keep him. That’s when I stopped attacking because I thought I could do many things at once, and I sent my application to the Department of Anthropology, and they picked me up. Lots of fun. That’s when I started doing anthropological research. What is the most interesting aspect of social anthropology? Anthropology is a very broad field of study that can be studied from any point of view. You can go anywhere as long as you do research on any topic and know the language. It is up to you to decide how to look at the topic, what theories to use, how to link your research to other studies, and how to contribute to science. In that sense, it is very difficult on the one hand, and very free on the other. WORKING AS A PROFESSOR AT MIT FOR CONFIRMING HIS NAME AS A RESEARCHER AND CONTRIBUTING TO SCIENCE Your first research paper was on Buryat shamanism. Why did you get into this topic? When I came to Mongolia in 1996, I attended a shamanic ceremony on the shores of Lake Baikal in Buryatia, Russia, in May. There was an international conference and my mother did the show. I didn’t think to study at first. Following my mother, I hired sixty-nine to Nalaikh, loaded up my petrol behind me, gave it to someone, and took my own food. I took a shaman from Nalaikh and drove to Bayan-Uul soum of Dornod for 36 hours. Then I went again in 1997, 1998, and 1999, and in 2000 I did research in Bayan-Uul and lived there for a whole year. What is so interesting? It was very interesting to watch a person come to the threshold of knowledge and then discover new knowledge. When the spirits of the ancestors of those who came during the shamanic rites are summoned and met, they tell their stories. In addition, such a chain of discoveries is called to honor the spirit that is missing and unknown before. It’s like experimenting in a science lab and waiting to see what happens next. During the socialist era, everything related to shamanism was suppressed and soon revived, so people’s knowledge was cut off. A researcher does not criticize other people’s beliefs, knowledge, or conclusions. It doesn’t say, “It’s wrong, it’s right, or it’s true, it’s false.” Instead, people study why they think a thing is true or false, and what they believe or do not believe. What do you find most important here? First, shamanic rituals are the memory of a society. There is a very detailed accumulation of knowledge left in the official history. Second, for nomads, shamanism can be likened to a substitute for the archives, genealogies, and libraries of a settled country. Third, shamanic spirits, especially the lost ones, have been linked to the repression in our country. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, when our country transitioned to democracy, the information about the victims of false political cases became public. The Buryats are the most repressed. So I studied it as a separate topic. I visited Dr. Renchin Munkhdalai, a historian, to study the process of rehabilitating victims of false political cases. What was Renchin guai talking about at that time? He asked me what I did and said, “I study shamanism.” Wow! We talked because we were researchers. “Is there a ghost?” he asked. “I think people exist, and I respect that suggestion,” he said. “There is a ghost.” During an expedition to the countryside, he came across Gobi lizards in the Khangai region and almost took them with him. When I chose a place to dig, I would sit on a shovel and take it with me. As I was accompanying him, I went somewhere and sat down until I was exhausted. When they dug the place, they said there was a grave there. According to Renchin, there is a soul. We agreed on many things and gave me a lot of material about the victims. But this is in a very strange way that it blends in with my shamanic research. How did it come together? When I was in Dornod in 1996-2000, the Buryats used to say that they could not be found. “There are disrespected and forgotten ancestors in your family. This is bothering you. Meet and honor your ancestors. ” His forgotten and tormented ancestors are sometimes not found at all. The main thing is that it is not known who he is. However, I met with Renchin and learned about the secret graves of the oppressed throughout Mongolia. In those graves, there are only unknown bones, whose names are unknown. Then I suddenly thought. “Some of the missing ancestors, some of the abandoned souls who were repressed in the 1930s, didn’t remember them, didn’t bury them properly, and according to the locals, didn’t read the mani after them.” I don’t know where he died. I don’t even know if he died, they just said, “He just disappeared,” “I took him away,” “I went to my sheep and didn’t come back.” They are, as they understand, invisible spirits who cannot be seen now. Aren’t those lost souls, the skeletons of this unnamed tomb, two sides of the same coin? It can be considered that way. In other countries, genetic testing is performed on such large tombs. This was especially true in the West after World War II. Recently, a Genetics (DNA) testing laboratory was set up for people who died in the 1990s Bosnian Herzegovina war and were buried in an unmarked public grave, and all the bones were analyzed one by one and linked to members of the living family. This work is very expensive because it uses special refrigerators and various chemicals. But we don’t like people who try this. When a person realizes that he has died here, he is sad and relieved. Researchers say that victims do not know where they are because they do not know where they are. These two mysterious tombs, which the spirit-seeking heavens have been searching for to complete their origins, theoretically coincide. Таны That’s what the book Tragic Spirits says. Yes. Tragic Spirits is an anthropological book. I did a lot of research to come up with new ideas. There is shamanism and political repression here and there. I have judged research from around the world and looked at how my research can contribute to all of this. It’s very difficult to add something new to a topic you’ve studied so much, just like adding a drop to the ocean. This book is a guarantee of my work. I am a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where I have established myself as a researcher and contributed to science. “TRAGEDY SPIRITS” WAS AWARDED THE BEST BOOK OF EASTERN ASIAN ANTHROPOLOGY OF 2014 AND INCLUDED ONE OF THE FIVE WORKS OF ASIAN STUDIES IN 2015 How did you choose a publisher to publish your book? The University of Chicago Publishing House, which published my book, is one of the leading publishers of anthropological works. Therefore, the principle is not to publish the first book of a young researcher. While attending the annual conference of the American Anthropological Association, I came across a publisher from the University of Chicago who was looking for publishers to publish a good research book. He told the editor, “I don’t think your family will publish my book. But I want your advice. ”He said of his book,“ We ​​have published your book. This is a very important study. You spoke very well. Send your book. ” What criteria did you meet to publish The Tragic Spirits? The publishing process takes at least two years and then ten years. The publisher receives my book and secretly reads it to the professors. Don’t tell me who’s reading. They are more successful than me in this area. It will take a year to read. Because it doesn’t cost money to read like that. In addition to their main work, the other professors will comment on my book. When three people read it, all three rated it as very good and said, “It needs to be printed. This is a very important book. That’s it. ”He sent me the correction. At that time, after completing my postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard University, I began teaching at MIT. Teaches classes, publishes scientific articles, and edits books. It was a time when you had to learn something new for a new job. It’s been several months since I edited my book. It’s been another year since our printer sent my edits back to others for reading. When they write, “It’s great, now it’s okay to fix it like this,” I’m just trying to make it better. The book, which started in 2007, was published in 2013. Has your book won the Best Science Award? The book review has been published in many places and won the Francis Hsu 2014 Anthropology Award for Best Anthropological Work of the East Asian Anthropological Society. It was also ranked in the top five of more than 500 books published in the two years by the International Convention of Asia Scholars (ICAS). The competition is based on the top 20, 10, and 5 books. I was very happy to be in the top five. This is because not only anthropologists but also political, economic, historical, Chinese, Malaysian and Korean scholars are competing for works from many countries. I think it’s great to be in the top five. What was the purpose of the three-year Harvard University grant? There was a 3-year postdoctoral research grant. The years I spent researching repression, writing books, and laying the groundwork for new women’s participation in elections. The main condition for that award is to have dinner with the other recipients every evening of the first day. About 30 young people, as well as Harvard professors and Nobel laureates, joined a group of about 50 people who spent three years with world-renowned figures such as historians, mathematicians, physicists, poets, literary critics, biologists and geneticists. . It was wonderful. When I first met you in 2008, I did a gender study. Can this be understood as your second book study? Election research began in 2008 before the publication of the book “Tragic Spirits”. She is preparing a book on gender analysis of women’s participation in political elections, based on a 2008-2012 survey. Written for many years. I am editing, comparing and matching as new things come up, and writing while teaching. This book should be published soon. What other areas are you doing research on? Last spring, I received a grant to “study how real estate is developing in Mongolia” and started in the summer. Anthropology is studying the redevelopment of ger areas. We meet with people who have replaced or failed to replace their fences, ordinary women who grow vegetables, mayors, construction ministers, and contractors, and compare them politically and economically. Because anthropology is a systematic study, you have to meet many people and study for many years to create a work. 90 PERCENT OF MY WORK IS FOR STUDENTS AND PUBLIC WORK, BUT 90 PERCENT OF THE CRITERIA IS MEASURED BY WORK

What advice would you give to young people pursuing a Ph.D.
The most important thing is to be really interested in the topic and the work. It’s hard to do uninteresting work for seven years.
You are an associate professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. I wonder what the criteria are for this rank?
I first started working as a professor in 2008. In the United States, assistant professors “tenure avana” after 5-6 years, depending on the school. “Genuine” means to qualify for a professorship. MIT requires two books and additional articles. Other schools usually require a book and articles.
Does that mean you have to write two books to be real?
Yes. In the fall of 2015, I submitted all the materials, saying that one was published and the other was about to be published. My first book was published in 2013. Before this book came out, I was writing my second book and giving it 400 pages. Teachers working in Europe, America, and Australia on my subject must be able to read and write reviews. Reviews of the first book are required to appear in the top five anthropological journals. Fortunately, all the reviews were positive.
What other criteria must be met?
Well, the students’ comments on how well they taught, their participation in departmental and school life, and their contribution to the Anthropological Association.
Who decides to make you an associate professor?
My works are sent to scholars who do research on topics similar to mine. I don’t know who is reading it. The department contacted 40-45 professors and said, “Buyandelger’s Mandukhai is starting the process of becoming an associate professor. Will you be involved in evaluating the professor’s work? If you want to participate, Mandukhai’s materials will be sent in November. Please read it in three months and write a letter summarizing the work. ” Letters from at least 30 people will be received and their assessments will be compiled by the head of the department and presented to the dean. The dean submits it to the commission and introduces it to the university presidential commission. It will then be discussed by a secret commission of corporations or donors. Each step is a secret. The upper and lower levels do not communicate at the decision-making level. Don’t comment on each other. My work will be approved by the department commission and I will go to the dean’s commission. If you can’t pass the dean’s commission, you won’t be sent to the presidential commission. You don’t have to explain why you didn’t support it. Finally, the president will speak. Everyone agreed, but the president said no. The president will not comment to anyone.
It’s loud. When and how was the president’s decision made?
When I submitted my application in August-September 2015, the answer was in May 2016. One morning when I checked my e-mail, I received a letter from the dean saying, “Congratulations.”
How many times did you pass the test until you received this letter?
The first was in 2011 and then in 2013. The third most important criterion was in 2015-2016. “Let me know that the administration has made you an authentic associate professor.” The main thing is that I don’t have to sign a contract again. That’s why he has the right to teach in Massachusetts until he retires. When he was an unverified assistant professor, his contract was extended for 3-4 years. He can work at school for the rest of his life to get Tenure. If he doesn’t get Tenure, he won’t stay in school and will have to look for another job. For me, from May 2008 to May 2016, I breathed a sigh of relief.
Not many people know that a researcher does a lot of work on Monday.
It’s really very busy. I spend most of the day with students. When I write my first book, I get up every morning between 3.30 and 4.00 and write before I go to work, I go to work and do other work, and I write in the evening if I can. When I was a child, I would put my child to bed at nine o’clock and plan to get up at ten o’clock to do something, and sometimes I would wake up at four or five o’clock in the morning after falling asleep in front of the computer. (laughs)
Do you work with editors to write research papers?
Research articles should be easy to read, both theoretically and eloquently, and express their ideas correctly. Therefore, several readings by editors. It costs a lot of money. Your research needs to be carefully considered because it is read and criticized by many people. It takes a lot of work. Ninety percent of my work is for students and community work, but 90 percent of the criteria are measured by performance.
Not everyone can pass such a test, right?
Especially if scientists are not able to create a work, they will be able to find a job in a suitable place, even if they have less criteria and a higher reputation than in the 3-5th year. But there are people who want to work to the end.
When were the happiest moments for you?
When I first got a Fulbright scholarship and was about to fly to the United States, I was very happy. My mother didn’t believe it at first. And the moment I joined the Department of Social Anthropology was really good. When I was a doctoral student in anthropology at Harvard, it was wonderful to be with smart, talented people every day. It feels like you’re in an ocean of intelligence. It’s even better when doctoral students and faculty exchange ideas when people are invited to give lectures at departmental conferences, seminars, and other universities. Give, take and offer yourself. Now I usually give to students. Give more, take less.
Do you miss Mongolia?
Remember. Remember your friends and family. I remember the wind blowing in the heat. In Mongolia, the sun sets slowly. Especially in the steppes, the evenings are orange and pink. I remember the stars in the night sky and the wildflowers in the fields. When I’m on a country road, I miss the good times when I get out of my car and sit on the grass wherever I want. Here, the whole land is owned, so it is impossible to get off the highway and rest.
What is the most inalienable quality of a Mongolian?
Selfish attitude toward family, caring for parents, helping each other, and caring for difficult times. I just don’t want to lose it.
I think our interview was very useful. I wish you more success in your research work.

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