As a BICC student fellow, I conducted my doctoral research at the University of Manchester, with language training at Peking University and Xinjiang Normal University. My July 2013 thesis is titled ‘Nation-Building and Ethnic Boundaries in China’s North-West’, and was supervised by Professor William A Callahan and Dr Elena Barabantseva. It examines how the concept of performativity can be applied to the securitisation of identity in official discourse and the politics of the everyday. The empirical focus is on how the party-state’s attempts to deepen integration of Xinjiang and Turkic-speaking Uyghurs into China shape popular responses and resistance to this nation-building project by both Han Chinese and Uyghurs. The interface between official and unofficial nationalisms is explored through discourse analysis of official documents and detailed semi-structured interviews with Han and Uyghur residents. The analysis is drawn from a year-long fieldwork period in Xinjiang’s largest city, Ürümchi. The training, expertise, and academic freedom provided by the BICC were absolutely indispensable in bringing this project to fruition.
My research interests are primarily identity politics, nationalism, and critical international relations theory using China and Xinjiang as case studies. Working with the BICC enabled me to develop networks, which have led to publications on nationalism and ethnic relations in the journal Inner Asia and a chapter in a forthcoming Routledge edited volume on identity politics amongst urban Uyghur youth.
I worked from September 2012 to September 2013 as Lecturer in Politics at the University of Manchester before taking up the position of Lecturer in Politics at the University of Glasgow. Most of my teaching is focused on the intersection between domestic and international politics using China as the key case study. I am currently working on converting my thesis into a monograph and writing several journal articles on ethnicity in contemporary China based on my fieldwork. My next large-scale research project will explore how China’s increasingly influential public intellectuals theorise the role of ethnicity in what they see as China’s rise to global superpower status.