Winner of the 2015 John K. Fairbank Prize, American Historical Association
Winner of the 2015 Central Eurasian Studies Society Book Award
Winner of the 2015 Francis L. K. Hsu Prize, Society for East Asian Anthropology, American Anthropological Association
Winner of the 2017 Alpha Sigma Nu Book Award
Thum's brilliant depiction of historical practice in Altishahr--Chinese Central Asia--is nothing less than a new understanding of what history is, how it is practiced, and how it works. The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History shows how the interplay of shrine pilgrimage, tazkirah recitation, tomb graffiti, recombinant manuscripts, and later, printed biographies, reflected and constituted a historical community in Xinjiang that was not dynastic, religious, or national but still comprised a powerful and pervasive identity. This book should be read not only by specialists on China, Central Asia, and the Islamic world, but by all historians, for its insights into alternative but vital modes of historiography on the limes of Eurasian empire and the cusp of colonial modernity. (James A. Millward, Georgetown University)
Refusing to reduce his "biography of history" in Altishahr to a simplistic binary of oppression and opposition, Thum instead leads readers beyond the familiar ideologies of modern times toward older ways of knowing and belonging. The empathy and magnitude of this humanist project show the experience of the past in a society few have tried to understand in its own terms ... This is Uyghur history as everyman's history.
(Nile Green, Los Angeles Review of Books)A pioneering work. The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History ... provides a new perspective on the study of the history of the region. (Ildikó Bellér-Hann, University of Copenhagen)
In this groundbreaking work, Thum not only rewrites the history of the Uyghurs, but in the process also shows how history has been and can be written...by offering us this historically sound and theoretically sophisticated work, Thum has brilliantly laid the groundwork for what he calls a global comparative historiography.
(Johan Elverskog, Religious Studies Review)