I am a historian of twentieth-century China and Inner Asia, with a research focus on national culture in the socialist periphery. In particular, I study the cultural history of the transborder Uyghur nation, whose formation was closely intertwined with history’s two largest socialist states.
Having completed my PhD at Harvard University in May, this fall I will begin a three-year fellowship at the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts, and will also serve as a lecturer in Princeton’s Department of East Asian Studies. I am currently at work on a book manuscript on the basis of my dissertation, which demonstrates that socialist policies, implemented in China’s northwest borderlands long before the founding of the People’s Republic, enabled the small Sino-Soviet frontier community of Ili to transform its local culture into the new Uyghur national culture.
My work as a cultural historian is informed and inspired by the seven years I spent living in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. In addition to working there as a translator, I completed a master’s degree in Uyghur literature at Xinjiang Normal University with a thesis on Uyghur modernist poetry.
When I'm not working on cultural history, I moonlight as a poetry translator.
PhD Dissertation: "Print and Power in the Communist Borderlands: The Rise of Uyghur National Culture" (Available soon at DASH.)
MA Thesis: "ئۇيغۇر گۇڭگا شېئىرىيىتىنىڭ كېلىپ چىقىشى، تەرەققىياتى ۋە ئىككى يۆنىلىشى" (Coming soon to a digital repository near you.)
email: jlfreeman at princeton dot edu