The HPRS department is happy to host Mr Yue Shi, a PhD student from Georgetown University.


Yue Shi; in the background, the mausoleum of Tughluq Timur, Khorgos county, Yili district.

Yue Shi is a fourth-year Ph.D candidate from Georgetown University. He studied for his BA (2011) in Urdu Language and Literature at Peking University, and MA (2013) in History at Georgetown University. He is interested in the comparison of the Qing and Russian rule in Central Asia. In the academic year 2016-2017, under the sponsorship of Nazarbayev University, he will conduct a research trip to archives and libraries in Kazakhstan for the dissertation topic “The Seven Rivers: Economy, Ethnicity and Empire in the Central Asian Frontier of the Qing and the Russian Empire, 1860s-1910s.”

This is how Yue describes his research project:

Inspired by the recent academic trend of studying empires from imperial frontiers, my dissertation attempts to investigate the dynamics among imperial frontier finance, ethnic policies and cross-border trade in the Ili-Semirech’e region between the Qing and the Russian Empire.

Concerning the Russian rule in Semirech’e, I am interested in the ways the frontier government financed its troops. In addition, what role did the Semirech’e Cossack Host as a system of military settlement play in the economy of frontier defense? Did the arrival and settling of Taranchi and Dungan peasants contribute to the alleviation of frontier financial situation? How did the waves of Slavic migrants changed the political and economic landscape of this region? How did the cotton boom at the turn of the twentieth century influence the military economy in Semirech’e?

Here in Kazakhstan, I plan to exploit the collections in libraries and archives, especially the relevant fonds in the Central State Archive of the Republic of Kazakhstan (TsGARK), to explore the answers to these questions. I am sincerely grateful for the support of Nazarbayev University for this research trip and ultimately the fruition of my dissertation project.