Since completing my first book The Chinese Sultanate (Stanford, 2005) on the 19th century Panthay Rebellion, I have focused on writing the history of central Tibet's Muslim communities. At first glance "Tibetan Muslim" appears to be almost a contradiction in terms. To be Tibetan, it is implicitly assumed, is to be Buddhist. However, Muslims have resided continuously in Lhasa since the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama in the 16th century. Nor is the Tibetan Muslim community in Lhasa an aberration. Tibetan Muslims can be found in virtually every major city in central Tibet, large segments of Amdo and in smaller numbers even in Kham. They have played central role in Tibetan life for over three centuries. Based on years of research and interviews across three continents and funded by a Mellon Foundation grant, this work culminated in the publication in 2018 of Islamic Shangri-La (University of California, 2018).
Lamenting the lack of quality secondary readings on China appropriate for the undergraduate classroom, I am also in the final stages of completing a biography of Lin Zexu. Given Lin Zexu’s prominent role in the Opium War it is curious that there exists no book-length study of him in English. I am now completing a biography entitled Lin Zexu: Imperial China in a Globalizing World (Oxford University Press, under contract). This account of Lin’s life opens a window onto the many global challenges facing Qing China in a rapidly changing world.
This year, I have embarked on a new book-length project The Ascendency of High Asia: Chinese Warlordism, Ethno-territoriality, and Inter-Asian Hegemony, 1900-1950. This project positions Tibet, Xinjiang and Mongolia (an area I collectively refer to as High Asia) in wider inter-Asian religious, commercial, and ethnic geographies in the early 20th century. Research for this project was sparked initially under a Sydney China Fellowship and has continued while a Research Fellow at the Wilson Center's Kissinger Institute on China and the United States in in Washington DC.
"Lhasa's Departed Past," #AsiaNow, Association of Asian Studies (October 8, 2018)
“Boundaries of Belonging: Sino-Indian Relations and the 1960 Tibetan Muslim Incident,” Journal of Asian Studies 75(3) August 2016.
"A Tibetan By Any Other Name: The Case of Muslim Tibetans and Ambiguous Ethno-religious Identities” Cahiers d’Extrême Asie 23 2014: 31-61.
“Ruminations on the Interpretive Framework of 19th Century Tibet-Yunnan Relations,” [In Chinese: 十九世纪滇藏关系解释范式的反思,” 民族学刊] Journal of Ethnology 1-2 (2010): 19-24.