63rd Annual Meeting Ulaanbaatar, 2021: Report

63rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC,
Ulaanbaatar 2021


Oliver Corff

The 63rd Meeting, to which Academician Bold had invited the participants at the occasion of the Business Meeting of the 62nd Annual Meeting in Friedensau, Germany, 2019, took place under the most unusual circumstances. Originally the meeting was scheduled for 2020 to be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, at the Institute of Language and Literature of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. Yet at the end of the year 2019, the outbreak of a novel type of coronavirus, later known as Covid-19, developed into a global pandemic with explosive speed, disrupting all international communication to a totally unforeseen degree. Thus, it became clear in late spring 2020 that our Meeting could but follow the example of the 2020 Summer Olympics: it had to be postponed to the following year.

However in spring 2021, even the most optimistic proponents of an international meeting had to yield to the ongoing pandemic. Postponing the Annual Meeting again was not an option, and with the global popularity of video-conferencing systems, it was decided to hold the 63rd Annual Meeting in electronic form.

Conducting the Annual Meeting in electronic form did not, however, make the task of the organizers simpler in any way, but rather required careful planning of time zones, speaking times etc., as there was no chance for any of the typical last-minute adjustments which can be made during a real-life meeting, if all decision-makers concerned are gathered in one room.

It is remarkable that despite all these impediments, our Mongolian hosts succeeded in organizing an Annual Meeting which lives on in memory as an intensive exchange of scholarly contributions, accompanied by lively discussions and supported by the discipline of all participants.

Opening Ceremony

The Institute of Language and Literature of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences was not alone in organizing this Annual Meeting, but could muster the help of the Academy of Sciences and the International Association of Mongol Studies. Prof. Jantsan Bat-Ireedüi led through the opening ceremony. Besides the Secretary General, Barbara Kellner-Heinkele, and the President, Academician L. Bold, the roster of speakers for the opening ceremony was complemented by Academician G. Chuluunbaatar, Vice-President of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, and Academician S. Chuluun, General Secretary of the International Association for Mongol Studies. Prof. Dr. Klaus Sagaster from Bonn, Germany was the distinguished guest speaker who had the priviledge to illuminate the participants on the beginnings of the PIAC as he is indeed a member of the PIAC family since the very first meeting in 1958.


With this year’s Annual Theme, “Communality and Mutual Influence of Language and Civilization in the Altaic World”, in mind, the meeting featured six sessions:

  • History and Religion of Central Asia,
  • Comparative Language Studies of Altaic Languages,
  • Mongolian Language and Thought,
  • Turkic Studies,
  • Documents and Texts,
  • Literature and Folklore.

With approximately the same number of speakers, every session was healthily balanced, and despite all the barriers imposed by time, space and technology, the participants engaged in lively discussions after their presentations.

Business Meeting

Due to the ongoing pandemic, no PIAC Medal could be awarded, and thus the most important issues of the Business Meeting were the Resolution, the words of thanks by Hartmut Walravens, and the invitation to host the 64th Annual Meeting of the PIAC in Moscow.


We are much indebted to our hosts who have welcomed us in every respect. Our word of thanks goes to Academican Bold for his great work in organizing the 63rd Annual Meeting of the PIAC, and to his team in making it possible to enjoy pleasurable, instructive and interesting three days.