My research over the past decade has concentrated on the material culture, history and religions of the Silk Road, resulting in several papers and books, most recently Silk, Slaves and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road (University of California Press 2018) and Silk Roads: Peoples, Cultures, Landscapes (Thames and Hudson 2019).
Research on a forthcoming history of the Silk Road Taklamakan kingdom of Khotan, funded by a Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellowship, explores the arrival of peoples and beliefs, notably Buddhists from Gandhara, and how their interaction with the existing population led to the development of a distinct culture and art. These same themes are central to my research for an exhibition project, ‘From Nara to Norwich’, which is focusing on the arrival of Christianity and Buddhism to other parts of the Silk Roads and the effects on the material cultures and landscapes. The exhibition will open in September 2021 at the Sainsbury Centre, University.
1994–2017: Director, The International Dunhuang Project (IDP), The British Library and Lead Curator, Central Asian Manuscripts, The British Library
1989-95: Postgraduate studies at The School of Oriental and African Studies (PhD entitled ‘Politics Against the Pen: History, Politics and the Posthumous Reputation of Liu Zongyuan (773–819)’ awarded in September 1995).
1988-89: The School of Oriental and African Studies, Japanese language study.
1983-84: The People's University, Beijing, China: postgraduate study in modern Chinese.
1982-86: SOAS, London University, B.A. (Hons) Chinese 2.1.
1979-82: Bedford College, University of London, B.A. Philosophy/Psychology 1st Class.
Recent Grants and Awards：
• Labex TransferS Visiting Professor, AOrOc, École normale supérieure, March 2019.
• Leverhulme Trust Emeritus Fellowship, 2018-2021: ‘Khotan: A Forgotten Silk Road Kingdom.’
• Stein-Arnold Trust Award, British Academy: 2018-19: for field trip to Dandan-Uliq, Khotan: changed to field trip to the Swat Valley, Pakistan.
• Getty Research Fellowship, April-June 2016, on ‘Trade in the Tarim? The Evidence from the Material Culture of Buddhism.’
• Casa Asia Award, Spain, 2010, to Susan Whitfield as Director of IDP ‘for its enormous task in the recovery,preservation and exhibition of information and images of the manuscripts, paintings and textiles found in the Chinese city of Dunhuang and of the Silk Route’.
Other Current Positions：
• Professorial Consultant, ‘Arrival of Belief Project’, University of East Anglia
• Vice Chair, International Association for the Study of Silk Road Textiles.
• Council Member, Royal Asiatic Society
• Editorial Board, Manuscript Studies (Journal of the Schoenberg Institute of Manuscripts)
• Member of International Consultative Committee, Digital Dunhuang
• Editorial Committee, Brepols Silk Road series.
• Advisor, Accounting Museum, Shanghai
• Accredited Lecturer, The Arts Society
Exhibitions and Field Trips：
• Field trip to the Swat valley, guest of the Italian Archaeological Mission, Sept. 2019
• Joint IDP-Dunhuang Academy Field Trip to Kharakhoto (Heishuicheng). Sept. 2016.
• Joint IDP-Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology Field Trip to Southern Taklamakan, November 2011.
• Joint IDP-Xinjiang Institute of Archaeology Field Trip to Southern Taklamakan, October 2008.
• ‘The Silk Road: A Journey Through Life and Death.’ Exhibition at the Royal Museums of Art and History Brussels, October 2006 – February 2007.
• ‘Woven Wealth’. Exhibition at John Rylands Library, Manchester April-June 2007.
• Field Trip to follow Stein’s Routes in Hindu-Kush and Wakhan Pamir, Sept. 2006.
• ‘The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith.’ Exhibition at The British Library. 7 May-12 September 2004.
Invited Lectures and Keynotes (from 2016)：
• November 2020: Lecture on Khotan to the Society of Antiquaries, London.
• November 2020: Lecture on Silk Road aesthetics to Seattle Art Museum.
• October 2020: Lecture on Khotan to the History of Art Dept, Cathleen Institute, Paris.
• 2019-2020: 30 lectures around UK for the Arts Society, including a lecture tour in New Zealand.
• November 2019: Lecture on new book at The British Museum.
• November 2018: Lecture on ‘The Arrival of Belief’ at Nanbunken, Nara, Japan.
• November 2018: Lecture on Silk, Slaves and Stupas at the Ancient Indian and Iranian Trust, Cambridge.
• October 2018: October 2018: Invited lecturer, Wake Forest University, USA.
• May 2018: Public lectures on Silk, Slaves and Stupas (in conversation with Peter Sellars) at the Hammer Museum, LA and Huntington Library, Pasadena.
• May 2018: Lecture for Silk Road Society, Oxford University.
• March 2018: Distinguished Lecturer in Celebration of the 5 th Anniversary of Lap-Chee College, Hong Kong University.
• September 2017: Opening keynote at Silk Road Conference, Chinese Accounting University and Dunhuang Academy, Shanghai.
• July 2017: Cambridge University Summer School general lecture: ‘The Silk Road:Connections and Conflicts Across Eurasia.’
• April 2017: ‘Is the Silk Road Global? UNESCO, OBOR and Modern Scholarship.’Conference at Asian Studies Center, Boğaziçi University & Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul
• April 2017: Princeton University: ‘Was There a Silk Road?’ Silk Road Forum 2017.
• December 2016: Ida Beam Distinguishing Guest Lecturer: Iowa University public lecture (‘Beyond Scrolls and Codices: Manuscript Formats on the Eastern Silk Road.’) and graduate seminar.
• November 2016: Keynote at Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Central Asian conference (‘The Current Situation and Issues as for the Digitization of Material Excavated in Central Asia.’).
• September 2016: ‘The English Climate or French Perfidy: The Failure of English Sericulture.’ Invited conference lecture, National Silk Museum, Hangzhou, China.
• May 2016: Getty public lecture, symposium presentation, podcast and lecture on the
Diamond Sutra and the Silk Road.
Scholarly books, monographs and chapters.
• ‘Fashion across the Silk Road, 500–1300.’ In The Cambridge Global History of Fashion, edited by Chris Breward, Beverly Lemire and Giorgio Riello. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2021.
• ‘Buddhist Rock Cut Architecture and Stupas in the Tarim Basin.’ In S. Huntington (ed.). Buddhist Architecture. Bonn: University of Bonn forthcoming.
• Silk Roads: Peoples, Cultures, Landscapes (editor and contributor). London: Thames and Hudson 2019.
• Silk, Slaves and Stupas: Material Culture of the Silk Road. Oakland: University of California Press 2018.
• ‘On the Silk Road: Trade in the Tarim?’ In Kristian Kristiansen, Thomas Lindkvist and Janken Myrdal (eds.). Trade and Civilization: Economic Networks and Cultural Ties, from Prehistory to the Early Modern Era. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2018.
• ‘Dunhuang and Its Network of Patronage and Trade.’ In Neville Agnew et al. (eds.). Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on the Silk Road. Los Angeles: Getty Publications 2016.
• Life Along the Silk Road, John Murray and University of California Press, London and Berkeley 1999 & 2000. Rev. ed. Oakland: University of California Press 2015.
• ‘Creating a Codicology of Central Asian Manuscripts.’ In Justin McDaniel and Lynn Ransom (eds.). From Mulberry Leaves to Silk Scrolls: New Approaches to the Study of Asian Manuscript Traditions. (The Lawrence J. Schoenberg Studies in Manuscript Culture, Vol. 1). Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Libraries 2015.
• ‘IDP: Working on Stein’s Archaeological Legacy’ (co-author). In Helen Wang (ed.) Aurel Stein (British Museum Research Papers). London: British Museum Publications 2012. Online at:. http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/publications/research_publications_series/research_publications_online/sir_aurel_stein.aspx (accessed 29 September 2016).
• The Silk Road: A Journey Through Life and Death (In French and Dutch, exhibition catalogue), Brussels: Mercator 2009.
• ‘Stein and Archaeology on the Eastern Silk Road.’ In Charlotte Trümpler (ed.). The Great Game: Archaeology and Politics at the Time of Colonialism (1860-1940). Essen 2008 (In German).
• The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith (catalogue of an exhibition held at the British Library, May – September 2004), London: The British Library and Serindia, 2004.
• Aurel Stein and the Silk Road, London: The British Museum 2004.
• Dunhuang Manuscript Forgeries (editor). (British Library Studies in Conservation Science: 3), The British Library, London 2002. Also contributed introduction.
• Cave Temples of Mogao/Dunhuang: Art and History on the Silk Road. (co-author). Los Angeles and London: Getty Publications and The British Library, 2000. Revised edition: Los Angeles: Getty Publications 2015. Contributed one of five chapters and substantial contributions and editing to others.
• ‘Almanacs: China’; ‘China: To 1912’. In Derek Jones (ed.) Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. London: Routledge 2001: 42-43; 476–86.
• Dunhuang and Turfan: Contents and Conservation of Ancient Documents from Central Asia (co-editor). (British Library Studies in Conservation Science; 1). London: The British Library 1996. Journal and Conference Publications (from 2007)
• ‚Alfalfa, Pasture and the Horse in China: A Review’ Quaderni di Studi Indo-Mediterranei (Bologna) 12 (2019 ) Sino-Iranica’s Centennial. Between East and West, Exchanges of Material and Ideational Culture.
• ‘The Expanding Silk Road: UNESCO and BRI.’ In Eva Myrdal (ed.). Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities. 81 (2019, published 2020).
• ‘Silk on the Silk Road: Scholarship and Scepticism’. In Zhao Feng (ed.). The Silk Road: A Road of Silk. (Proceedings of the Conference, Hangzhou October 2015). Hangzhou: China National Silk Museum 2016: 1–9.
• ‘A Scholar of “Wide Attainments and Indefatigable Keenness”: Aurel Stein on Oldenburg.’ In Irina Popova (ed.). Sergey F. Oldenburg: Scientist and Organizer of Science. Moscow 2016: 56-65.
• ‘Western Visitors to Dunhuang, 1920-1960.’ Dunhuang Tulufan Yanjiu 2014: 103–111.
• ‘Buddhist Wall Paintings in Context: The Foundation for Future Scholarship.’ In David Park (ed.). Acts of Merit: Papers from the Buddhist Art Forum. London: Archetype Publications 2014.
• ‘A Place of Safekeeping? The Vicissitudes of the Bezeklik Murals’. In Neville Agnew (ed.). Conservation of Ancient Sites in the Silk Road: Proceedings from the Second International Conference on the Conservation of Grotto Sites, August 25-30 2004, Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute 2010. Online on http://www.getty.edu/conservation/publications_resources/pdf_publications/2nd_silkroad.html (accessed 29 September 2016).
• ‘The Dunhuang Chinese Sky: A Comprehensive Study of the Oldest Known Star Map.’(co-author with J-M Bonnet-Bidaud and F. Praderie). The Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 12.1 (March 2009): 39-59. PDF at: arxiv.org/pdf/0906.3034
• ‘Stein Revisited: Silk Road Archaeology and Exploration a Century On.’ Journal of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. June 2009.
• ‘The Perils of Dichotomous Thinking: Ebb and Flow rather than East and West.’ In Suzanne Akbari and Amilcare A. Iannucci (eds.). Marco Polo and the Encounter of East and West. (Papers from a conference held at University of Toronto Humanities Centre, May 2002): 247-61. Toronto: University of Toronto Press 2008.
• ‘Scholarly Respect in an Age of Political Rivalry.’ in Irina Popova (ed.). Caves of a Thousand Buddhas. Russian Expeditions to Central Asia at the End of XIX - Beginning of XX centuries. (Catalogue of an exhibition at the Hermitage to mark the 190th anniversary of the Asiatic Museum, Institute of Oriental Manuscripts). St. Petersburg: 2008.
• ‘Breaking Barriers: Creating a New Historical Narrative.’ in Anupa Pande (ed.). Cultural Interactions on the Silk Road. (Papers from a conference held at the National Museum Institute, New Delhi, September 2007), New Delhi: Aryan Books International 2008.
• ‘Was There a Silk Road?’ Asian Medicine – Tradition and Modernity 4 (2008): 201–213.
• ‘The Dunhuang Manuscripts: From Cave to Computer’ In Books in Numbers (paper from a conference at Harvard Yenching Library), Harvard University Press, 2007. Other Articles, Reviews, Interviews and Encyclopedia entries
• ‘The Silk Roads’ In Geradline Heng and Susan Noakes (eds.). The Global Middle Ages.
• Entries for The Oxford Dictionary of Late Antiquity.
• Marco Polo Bibliography. Oxford Bibliographies.
• ‘Silk Road Notes’. In Silk Road (Dragon Airline Magazine), 2015-2019.
• ‘Stein, Aurel.’ Encyclopedia of Global Archaeology, Extreme Environments, 2014.
• ‘From Plov to Paella’, Index on Censorship, 2005.
• 'Enjoy It While it Lasts: A Brief Golden Age of Freedom of Scholarly Information?'
Rzeczpospolita (The Republic, Polish Newspaper), October 2000.
• ‘From Paper to Data.’ The Times Higher Educational Supplement, June 23, 2000.
• ‘Horses and Princesses, the Price for Peace.’ The Independent 15 November 1999.
• ‘Libraries in Ancient China.’ Index on Censorship, March 1999.
• ‘In Praise of the Plagarist.’ Index on Censorship, 1999.
• ‘Reuniting the Dunhuang Library: A Description of the International Database Being Developed by the International Dunhuang Project.’ In Monique Cohen (ed.), Conservation des manuscrits de Dunhuang et d’Asie Centrale, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris 1998.
• ‘Dunhuang’, China Review 10 (Summer 1998), pp.30-35.
• ‘The International Dunhuang Project: A Challenge for Digitization’, Microfilm and Imaging Review, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Winter 1997): 15-21.
• ‘The International Dunhuang Project (IDP): Creating a Scholarly Partnership.’ Early Medieval China. 1997.
• ‘The Future of the Stein Collection in the British Library.’ In Katsumi Tanabe, Joe Cribb and Helen Wang (eds.), Studies in Silk Road Coins and Culture: Papers in Honour of Professor Ikuo Hirayama on his 65th Birthday, The Institute of Silk Road Studies, Kamakura 1997.
• ‘IDP News.’ Newsletters of Asia in Europe (Supplement to IIAS News 11, (1996)): 5-6.
• A Literary Companion to China. (co-author). London: John Murray 1994.
• The Earthsongs, BBC Radio 3, 27.2.91, translations of three of Liu Zongyuan's prose works.
• ‘China's Centuries of Censorship.’ The Times Literary Supplement, September 1989. Numerous reviews of paper/books for journals and publishers.
I have translated many books on the arts of China from Chinese into English. Most of these have been catalogues of Chinese Museums. These include:
• National Museum of China. London Editions 2011.
• The Caves of Dunhuang. London Editions 2010.
• Shanghai Museum London Editions 2007.
• The Treasures of the Nanjing Museum. London Editions 2001.
• Ancient Chinese Bronzes in the Shanghai Museum. Scala Books 1996.
• The Qin Terracotta Army: Treasures of Lintong. Scala Books 1996.
• The Land Within the Passes: A History of Xian. Viking, London and New York, 1991 [Zou Zongxu, Qiannian gu du Xian, Hong Kong 1987].
• Chinese Textile Designs (co-translator with R. Scott). Viking, London and New York1992 [Gao Hanyu, Zhongguo lidai zhi ran xiu tulu, Hong Kong 1986].