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Urgunge Onon: An Appreciation

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image of Inner Asia

It is particularly important for us to celebrate Urgunge Onon’s 80th birthday. Urgunge was the inspiration for the founding of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit in 1986. I remember well how one day Urgunge travelled from Leeds to give me an important message. He said, ‘This country of Britain where I have made my home has a very distinguished tradition of Mongolian Studies, but now it looks as though it will die out.’ ‘What do you mean?’ I asked. Urgunge replied, ‘Without a proper institution, everything will be dissipated, there will be no centre, and no-one will see to it that there is a new generation of Mongolists to follow us. You owe it to your teachers, Owen Lattimore and myself, to see that this does not happen. Together, we can do something.’ This conversation was how the idea of founding a Unit was born, and the Unit has now produced several ‘generations’ of young scholars and many publications, including this journal Inner Asia.


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