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- Grave Robbers, Missionaries, and Spies: Foreign Adventurers in Chinese Turkistan
- CEUS-R 331/531
- Gardner Bovingdon
- From the 19th century to the mid-20th, the mysteries and fabled cultural treasures of what is today known as Xinjiang lured many outsiders to the region. Missionaries came from Europe hoping to convert the largely Muslim population to Christianity. Professional archeologists and amateur treasure hunters came to root through the deserts for Buddhist scrolls, painting, and statuary. Adventurers passed through looking for excitement, or themselves. Driven by global political developments, military scouts, embassy officials, and outright spies made forays to uncover various suspected secrets: were the Russians seeking to attach the territory to the Czar's growing Central Asian empire? Were the British scheming to claim it for the Queen? Did communists from Moscow or Beijing plot to win it for the global proletariat? Was there uranium, gold, or oil to be exploited? The quests of these figures are interesting in their own right. Fortunately, many left highly readable accounts of their activities and discoveries. Through these texts we will seek to understand both the value of the region to outsiders and the influence those outsiders had on its people and politics.
We will read the texts on three levels: first, as sources of information about a period in Xinjiang’s history for which local sources are scarce and fragmentary; second, as windows into the mentalities and values of the authors, who hailed from countries and cultures far removed from the place they were visiting; and third, as new materials with which to evaluate existing approaches to the study of colonialism, missionary activity, and the colonial production of knowledge.
Undergraduate students will write take-home midterm and final examinations. Graduate students will instead submit a final research paper. Each student will be expected to participate fully in class, having read the text or texts and ready for discussion. The final grade for undergraduates will combine midterm (33%), final exam (33%), and class participation (33%); for graduates, it will combine final paper (60%) and class participation (40%).
Please observe scholarly conventions in all written work. Cite all sources you use, giving short in-text citations (example: Laird, 30) and providing a full bibliography at the end. Any work found to have been plagiarized will result in a grade of F for the assignment and the course. I will repeat and underscore this statement in class, but it is your responsibility to absorb it and act on it. If in doubt about how to use or cite a source, ask.
Hopkirk, Peter. Foreign Devils on the Silk Road. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1984.
Laird, Thomas. Into Tibet: The CIA's First Atomic Spy and His Secret Expedition to Lhasa. New York: Grove Press, 2002.