Rian Thum is Senior Research Fellow at the University of Nottingham. His research and teaching are generally concerned with the interpenetration of China and the Muslim world. Since 1999, he has regularly conducted field research in Xinjiang and other areas of China with large Muslim populations, both Uyghur and Chinese-speaking. His book The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History (2014) was awarded the Fairbank Prize for East Asian history (American Historical Association) and the Hsu Prize for East Asian Anthropology (American Anthropological Association). Thum’s current book project, Islamic China, is a reexamination of Chinese Islam that takes full account of the numerous Persian and Arabic sources that Chinese-speaking Muslims have used and written.
Sometime between 10 and 17 March 2018, on a high sand dune 75 kilometres from the town of Niya, a beloved historical monument disappeared (Kuo 2019). For at least 450 years the site had drawn pilgrims from across the expanse of Altishahr, the southern half of what is now known variously as Eastern Turkistan or […]