Research Projects

A Critical Edition of the Tārīkh-i Ḥamīdī

In the first decade of the twentieth century, Mullā Mūsa b. Mullā ʿĪsa Sayrāmī produced a celebrated work of Xinjiang history, the Tārīkh-i Amniyya, later rewritten as the Tārīkh-i Ḥamīdī. This book has been an invaluable resource for historians studying the history of the nineteenth century. However, there has been no English-language translation of it, nor for that matter a complete translation into any language other than Modern Uyghur, and no critical edition drawing on the several known manuscripts.

That is now changing. Not long ago, I translated and published Mā Tīṭayniŋ wāqiʿasi, which was written in the 1920s as a sort of “sequel” to the Tārīkh-i Ḥamīdī. Now, our Chaghatay reading group at Harvard is working on the several versions of a particularly interesting chapter of the work, Sayrāmī’s biography. We aim to produce an edition of this chapter as a demonstration to funding bodies that a full translation and edition is both possible and desirable.

Going forward, I intend to bring in scholars from around the world to work on the text in smaller sections, distributing the labor across the informal global network of Chaghatay and Xinjiang specialists. Watch this space.

Making Central Asian History Accessible

I believe that no one should have to study three years of Russian, two of Uyghur or Uzbek, and one of Persian before even beginning to read pre-modern Turkic-language texts from Central Asia. I am experimenting with tools for teaching Chaghatay to students with no prior background by beginning with simple Eastern Turki texts from Xinjiang. The model for this effort comes from the pedagogy of other Inner Asian languages (Classical Mongolian, Manchu, and Tibetan), all of which can be and are taught as reading languages without the expectation of ability in a related modern language.

The Raquette Glossary of Eastern Turki: My digitized, searchable version of Gustav Raquette’s 1914 Eastern Turki-English glossary. Although I have finished typing up the main text, this is an ongoing project, so watch this space for updates. (Current version: 10 September 2015)

The Raquette Glossary is now available as a searchable online glossary here! Thanks go to Niko Kontovas, a linguist and polyglot who created the online database. This is the world’s first online glossary for Chaghatay or Eastern Turki.

Guide to Researching Xinjiang at the Swedish National Archives (on Sinoturcica)

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