Faculty in the Department of History

Eric Schluessel

Eric Schluessel

Assistant Professor of History and Political Science

Office: LA 263
Email: eric.schluessel@umontana.edu
Office Hours:

T 3:30-5:00 and by appointment

Personal Website
Curriculum Vitae

Personal Summary

Eric Schluessel teaches courses in the history and politics of China. His research focuses on the social history of Xinjiang, a Muslim-majority region in Chinese Central Asia, during the Qing dynasty (1636-1911) and twentieth century.

Professor Schluessel is interested in advising students in frontier history, comparative empire and colonialism, and the histories of China and Central Asia. Upcoming course offerings will include survey histories of East Asia, imperial China, and modern China, as well as specialized courses on rebellions and revolutions and the Chinese intellectual and legal traditions.

Field of Study

Social and Cultural History of China and Central Asia; Empire and Colonialism; Ethnicity; Legal History; Islam


PhD (History and East Asian Languages), Harvard University
MA (Central Eurasian Studies), Indiana University
MA (Linguistics), School of Oriental and African Studies
BA (Chinese Language and Literature; Linguistics), Connecticut College

Selected Publications

"Legal History" in Michael Szonyi, ed., Companion to Chinese History (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2017). (with William Alford)

The Law and the ‘Law’: Two Kinds of Legal Space in Late-Qing China” in Extrême-Orient Extrême-Occident 40 (November 2016).

“Muslims at the Yamen Gate: Translating Justice in Late-Qing Xinjiang” in Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Birgit Schlyter, and Jun Sugawara, eds., Kashgar Revisited: Uyghur Studies in Memory of Gunnar Jarring, (Leiden: Brill, 2016), 116-138.

The World as Seen from Yarkand: Ghulām Muḥammad Khān’s 1920s Chronicle Mā Tīṭayniŋ wāqiʿasi. Tokyo: NIHU Program Islamic Area Studies, 2014.

“Thinking Beyond Harmony: the ‘Nation’ and Language in Uyghur Social Thought.” In Ildikó Bellér-Hann and Trine Brox, eds., On the Fringes of the Harmonious Society: Tibetans and Uyghurs in Socialist China. Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press, 2013, 318-346.

“Language and the State in Late-Qing Xinjiang.” In Birgit Schlyter and Mirja Juntunen, eds., Historiography and Nation-Building Among Turkic Populations. Istanbul: Swedish Research Institute in Istanbul, 2014.


Law Beyond Law: Imperial Geographies of Exception and Morality

In the mid-nineteenth century, the Qing empire (1636/44-1911) was transformed from within. Provincial activists carved out a new zone of sovereignty, not for their Manchu rulers, but for Han Chinese elites who saw China as their own cultural inheritance. Imperial law was suspended. In its place, these activists promoted "law beyond law" — the system of rites and social relations that they considered more fundamental to a distinctly Chinese cosmic and political order.

I am exploring the shifting boundaries of this peripatetic zone of exception by analyzing stacks of official documents on executions and the suspension of statutory judicial procedure in the Qing. The theoretical apparatus draws on both critical geography and the anthropology of law. The idea is, in large part, to point to the relationship between law and law-like systems in imperial expansion and territorialization. In the longer term, I will bring these observations to bear on other non-Western and later European imperial formations.

Towards a Scholarly Edition of the Tārīkh-i Ḥamīdī

The Tārīkh-i Ḥamīdī is a chronicle of nineteenth-century Xinjiang written in the Chaghatay language — and so much more. Mullā Mūsa Sayrāmī's 1908 masterpiece is also a work of Islamic sacred history and a commentary on political theory in an age of Chinese domination of Muslim peoples at the edge of the Islamic world. This work is a critical source for non-Chinese, native perspectives on Qing empire, and yet no translation or even scholarly edition of it exists.

The Tārīkh-i Ḥamīdī Editing Group first convened on a monthly basis in 2015-2016 with the goal of remedying that lack. We established basic standards for foliation of the multiple available manuscripts, annotation, and translation. Now an expanded group of international scholars will convene in Missoula, MT in late May 2017 for a Henry Luce Foundation/ACLS Program in China Studies Collaborative Reading Workshop. I have foliated and annotated fully one-quarter of the dense Chaghatay text, and we will spend a few days at the UM campus plumbing its mysteries and working on a translation for future scholars and students to use.