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On Exhibit at Douglass Library: From Pastoral Nomadism to Global Urbanism

January 24, 2017

Banners describe the Kalmyk experience through a number of different lenses.


Case displays feature themes such as "Kalmyks in the US media."

From Pastoral Nomadism to Global Urbanism: The Complex Journey of Kalmyks in America and Russia is on display at Douglass Library from January 20 through March 31, 2017.

The Kalmyks originated in Dzhungaria (today's northern Xinjiang, China) in the 16th century. They proceeded via Russia and western Europe and, during the 1950s, established unique diasporic communities in Philadelphia as well as in Paterson and Howell. Their first jobs were in Freehold on chicken farms and in factories in New Brunswick and Paterson. Economic expansion in the state post-WWII turned newcomers to construction, and Kalmyks emerged shortly thereafter as contractors and small business owners. Within two years of their arrival in the US, the Kalmyks had organized Buddhist temples in Howell and Philadelphia—the first Tibeto-Mongolian Buddhist temples in the country. By 2000, there were approximately 3,000 Kalmyks living in New Jersey.

Through illustrations, photographs, artifacts, and music recordings drawn from the Kalmyk Diaspora Archives Project, this exhibition showcases the Kalmyk journey from pastoral nomadism to post-WWII urban and suburban America. The exhibition features banners that describe the Kalmyk experience through a number of different lenses, including Kalmyks in America, Kalmyk language, Kalmyk literature, Kalmyk religion, Kalmyk celebrations, Kalmyk dwellings, Kalmyk women, Kalmyk men, and the Kalmyk journey. Case displays feature Kalmyks in the US media, highlights from Kalmyk literature, photographs of the Kalmyk tradition of cremation, and paintings by Danara Ulanova, a Yugoslavian emigrant who taught Kalmyk in New Brunswick around the 1960s.

For more information, like the Kalmyk Diaspora Archives Project on Facebook or view a panel discussion about the archive from the 2016 New Jersey Folk Festival featuring New Jersey regional studies librarian Christie Lutz.