Gong Chen

6th-year Ph.D. student
Jones Hall

I am a PhD student in Department of Near Eastern Studies. My field of interest lies primarily in eastern Anatolia in the late Ottoman Empire. I’d like to explore the establishment and strengthening of direct control from Istanbul, the interaction between central government and local notables, and politics of identity in this multiethnic region. I am also interested in the Ottoman Empire in comparative contexts, the relations between China and Middle Eastern countries, and nationalism in the Middle East.

My interest in the Middle East started when I found an untouched book on Middle Eastern history, The Caliphate: Its Rise and Fall written by the British Orientalist Sir William Muir, in the library of my high school, The Affiliated High School of Fujian Normal University. To know more about this region, I got a BA in history and Arabic from Peking University, China. I subsequently finished my MA program in history at Peking University. Under the guidance of my advisor, Dr. Zan Tao, I gradually switched my interest from modern Arab countries to the late Ottoman Empire and early Republic of Turkey. I was lucky enough to be an exchange student in the Department of Central Eurasian Studies at Indiana University-Bloomington, with the financial aid from the Tang Research Foundation. The incredible four months in CEUS greatly improved my modern Turkish, and made me determined to apply for PhD programs in the US.