Mari Valdur

People at the Mongolian Research Lab



Alevtina Solovyeva

Dr Alevtina Solovyeva

Head of the Centre for Oriental Studies, Director of the Mongolian Research Laboratory

Alevtina Solovyeva specialises in comparative Asian studies, Chinese and Mongolian studies, folkloristics, historical and social anthropology, social sciences.

She obtained her first PhD degree in Asian studies (2016), and the second in Folkloristics (2021). She undertook her postdoctoral research at the Faculty of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (2022).

She has been conducting her fieldwork research within various projects in Mongolia, China and other regions of Inner, Central and East Asia annually starting from 2006.

Her current topics of research look at the transnational relations of peoples in Central and East Asia, Mongolian peoples’ communities, beliefs and practices, processes and movements in Mongolia, China and Russia, rural and urban cultures, infowars, propagandas and social imagination.


Mari Valdur

Dr Mari Valdur

Research Fellow (part-time)

Mari is a social anthropologist who defended her PhD thesis Life and Abortion: The Post-Biopolitics of Reproductive Health in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia at the University of Helsinki in 2020. After her doctoral studies she took up a short visiting scholarship at the University of Cambridge; a visiting lectureship at Tallinn University; and a one-year postdoctoral project Gender Affects: Categories, Capitalism, and Ethnography in Mongolia funded by the Estonian Research Council at Tallinn University and the University of Tartu.

Research interests: gender, capitalism, health, kinship, class, Mongolia, Estonia


Yanjinlkham Dashtseren

Ms Yanjinlkham (Yanji) Dashtseren


Yanjinlkham Dashtseren is a MA student of Folkloristics and Applied Heritage at the Department of Estonian and Comparative Folklore at the University of Tartu. She is interested in the Buriad, a minority ethnic group in Mongolia. Being Buriad herself, her Master's thesis is likely to address the topic of post-memory of forced migration of the Buriad that took place in the early 20th century. She has a Bachelor's degree in computer sciences from the National University of Mongolia (2008), and extensive work experience as an IT coordinator and general manager at international companies.


Tuya Shagdar

Tuya Shagdar

Visiting Scholar (Mar 2024-...; remote work)

Tuya Shagdar is an anthropologist working in Mongolia. Her research focuses on the emergent political forms, legacies of state socialism, and Mongolian Buddhism. She recently defended her PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge with a dissertation focusing on postsocialist transformations through the method of studying up. Tuya also holds a degree in comparative literature which enabled her to teach courses in literary theory and film studies at the National University of Mongolia. She speaks Mongolian, Russian, and English in addition to basic knowledge of Japanese and French. 


Tobias Jones

Dr Tobias Jones

Visiting Scholar (May 2024-...; remote work)

Dr Tobias Jones is scholar working on the Mongol Empire, largely from the point of view of the Middle East. Dr Jones completed his Bachelor’s degree in 2011 at the University of St Andrews in the UK, in the field of Mediaeval History. He then moved to the Netherlands, where he completed a Research Master’s programme at Leiden University. In this programme, he began learning Persian, and wrote his Master’s thesis on the idea of the ‘Pax Mongolica’. He continued on to a PhD at Leiden, which was completed in January 2023, focusing on Chinggisid loyalty networks and how they were adapted by the successor state in Iran, the Ilkhanate. He is currently a lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies at Leiden University.


‘The Objects of Loyalty in the Early Mongol Empire (Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries)’, Iran, (April 2021),

‘The Curious Case of the Iniquitous In-laws: Oirat Disloyalty in Mongol Iran’, Submitted for Peer Review.

‘Mongol Loyalty Networks: Cultural Transmission and Chinggisid Innovation’, PhD Dissertation, Leiden University, 2023



Kenneth Linden

Dr Kenneth Linden

Visiting Scholar (Mar-June 2023; remote work)

Kenneth's research is on Mongolian environmental and animal history, and his PhD dissertation (Indiana University, Bloomington, PhD in Central Eurasian Studies with a History Minor, 2022) was on the socialist transformation of animal and environmental relations through collectivization. Kenneth has published a few articles on this topic, from the history of wolf hunting to a translation of a socialist-era short story about collective herders. During the visiting fellowship he was finishing a history of Mongolian human-animal relations, and working on a conference presentation entitled Humans as Animals and Animals as Humans in the Mongol Empire. He is currently employed at the Administrative Assistant and Advisor for the Rutgers University History Undergraduate program.

Research interests: environment, animals, Mongolia, climate, Inner Asia, nomadism, hunting