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Chair by special appointment for East Asia and modern Mongolia

University of Groningen recruits specialist
10 December 2013

The Ubbo Emmius Fund has appointed lawyer and anthropologist Dr Tjalling Halbertsma as professor holding the ‘Chair for East Asian Studies, with a focus on modern day Mongolia’ at the University of Groningen. This is the first time that a special chair for Mongolia has been established in the Netherlands.

The new chair, which is part of the new East Asia programme at the University Groningen, will monitor, analyse and interpret the economic and political opportunities and challenges of this country as it emerges strongly within the region.

Fast-growing economy

Mongolia currently has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. The steppe region, situated between China and Russia, is extremely rich in natural resources such as coal, copper, gold, uranium and rare earth. Although Dutch pioneers were already searching for gold in Mongolia at the end of the nineteenth century, the full extent of the country’s huge reserves of natural resources has only come to light in the last ten years. Since 1990, Mongolia has organized elections and taken an active part in international interventions and UN peacekeeping missions in countries including Iraq, Afghanistan and Chad.


Earlier this year, the Faculty of Arts set up the interfaculty Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen (CEASG) . The CEASG aims to promote teaching and research relating to present-day developments in China, Japan, Korea and Mongolia at the University of Groningen, and to intensify cooperation with partner universities in East Asia. As part of this move, the Faculty has already established the Dutch Study Centre at Fudan University (Shanghai), the European Study Centre at Tsinghua University (Beijing) and the Dutch Study Centre at Osaka University (Osaka).

In September 2014, the CEASG will launch a Master’s programme in East Asian Studies , which will focus on issues including the political economies of East Asia and enable students to study at one of the partner universities in East Asia.

Tjalling Halbertsma

Tjalling Halbertsma (1969) is currently Director International of the Centre for East Asian Studies Groningen. He spent many years working in China and Mongolia, most recently as the first Dutch diplomat in Mongolia (based in Ulaanbaatar) for the Dutch Embassy in Beijing.

In 2007, Halbertsma was awarded a PhD by the Sinological Institute of Leiden University for the Nestorian heritage that he rediscovered and documented in Inner Mongolia between 1999 and 2006. Since then, most of this unique heritage has been stolen and lost. Halbertsma has written about Asia for various newspapers, including the South China Morning Post, the Asian Art Newspaper and Dagblad Trouw. He is also author of a number of travel stories and popular-scientific books about China and Mongolia.

Video Unifocus on Prof. Halbertsma and the new Chair

The special chair has been established by the Ubbo Emmius Fund , with funding from the ING Bank, the Jack Weatherford Foundation, Mongolia Opportunities Partners and the Riverbed Foundation.
Last modified:13 March 2020 02.18 a.m.
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