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Michael Long (2015)

Michael Long (2015)

Research Title: Discovering Epic, Constructing Culture: Culture-Politics on China’s Western Frontier

Supervisor: Professor David Sneath


My path to anthropology was a long but rewarding one. First receiving my undergraduate training at Pennsylvania State University in Political Science and International Studies concentrating on Chinese Energy Policy, I then undertook research for a Master of Law degree at Fudan University in China regarding Chinese FDI policy and its influence on ‘State Identity Construction’. In 2014, I found an intellectual home at the University of Cambridge Department of Social Anthropology.  Continuing my China related research, I chose to focus on China’s ‘western frontier’ region–Xinjiang. Beginning with my MPhil thesis regarding the relationship between the construction of ‘extremism’ and sartorial presentation in the city of Urumqi, my research attempts to engage with and expand upon contemporary social-political questions in seemingly unlikely places. 

My Ph.D. research brought me back to Xinjiang, but this time to a small Mongol dominated county on the border with Kazakh.  My thesis discusses the complex negotiation of national, regional, and local interests in county ‘Culture Construction’ policy, much of which is centered on what has been named one of the ‘Three Great Epics of China’ and recently added to the National Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage—the Heroic Epic Jangar.  This program focuses on the conceptual evolution of Jangar as ‘excellent minority culture’ and the highly politicized social performance of ‘culture’ so as to construct ‘Jangar Culture’ in a unique minority dominated border region of China.

I am always looking for new and exciting areas to cooperate and am particularly open to interdisciplinary collaboration.  Please contact me directly at:

Research Interests

Chinese Studies; Chinese Social Theory; East/Inner Asian; Political Discourse; Anthropology of Bureaucracy; Politics of Performance; Nation Building; Minzu studies; Heritage Studies; ‘Cultural Development’