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Christopher Atwood "Repackaging Chinggis Khan: Bilingual Histories of the Dynastic Founding in the Yuan Dynasty"

Fri, Jan 16, 11:00 am to 12:15 pm
Woodburn Hall 120

The first East Asian Colloquium of the spring semester will be held this Friday, January 16th, at 11 a.m. in Woodburn Hall 120.

PRESENTER: Christopher Atwood (Central Eurasian Studies, IU Bloomington)

TOPIC: Repackaging Chinggis Khan: Bilingual Histories of the Dynastic Founding in the Yuan Dynasty
DATE: Friday, January 16

TIME: 11:00AM-12:15PM
LOCATION: Woodburn Hall 120

For modern scholars and informed layfolk, the Secret History of the Mongols is the premier text for understanding the life and times of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan, founder of the Mongol world empire. But during the time of the Mongol empire and the succeeding Mongol Yuan dynasty in China, the Secret History was just that: secret. Written mostly in 1252, in the wake of Möngke Khan’s coup d’etat and purge, the Secret History was a little too explicit about the fratricidal incidents that accompanied the empire’s founding. After Qubilai Khan came to power, he authorized Chinese scholars to begin adding Chinese versions to the already significant body of Mongolian-language biographies, genealogies, and histories of the empire’s founding. For later reigns, Chinese became the language of record for history writing. Yet over the history of Chinggis Khan and the early empire, Qubilai and his successors retained a tight control using bilingual composition to monitor the telling of the story of the dynasty’s founding. In the 13th and 14th centuries, Chinggis Khan’s history was packaged in several different version that have survived in whole or in part. The story of these versions shows how the Mongol Yuan rulers used control of history to assert their ultimate authority over the compliant Chinese literati.

Christopher Atwood is associate professor of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University Bloomington. He received his PhD from Indiana University in 1994 and published a monograph in 2002 titled Young Mongols and Vigilantes in Inner Mongolia’s Interregnum Decades 1911-1931. Atwood is currently working on two manuscripts, one exploring the historiography of Chinggis Khan and the other an inquiry into the concept of kinship among Central Eurasian nomadic peoples.

Persons with disabilities interested in attending our events who may require assistance, please contact us in advance at (812) 855-3765.

Hosted by the East Asian Studies Center.