Dr. Smith Finley obtained her BA Honours in Modern Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds in 1991. For three years between 1992 and 1994, she studied Japanese language and culture, and taught English in Kyoto, Japan. She then returned to the UK to pursue an interdisciplinary PhD in Chinese Studies / Social Anthropology at the University of Leeds, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, UK, and including a year of ethnographic fieldwork (informal interviews and direct observation). Her thesis focused on changing identities among the Muslim Uyghur nationality of Xinjiang, NW China, and contemporary Uyghur-Han relations (June 1999). Between 1997 and 1999, she worked as a teaching assistant on undergraduate Chinese language and postgraduate Chinese-English translation modules for the University of Leeds, before joining Newcastle University as Lecturer in Chinese Studies in January 2000.
Within the School of Modern Languages, Dr. Smith Finley is Degree Programme Director for the BA Hons Chinese/Japanese and Cultural Studies degrees (TT41; T190/T290; TT12) and Year Abroad Officer for China. She also sits on the School's Marketing Committee.
Dr Smith Finley was Head of the East Asian Studies section from 2009-2012.
BA Honours Modern Chinese Studies (University of Leeds, 1987-1991) -
Modern Chinese language (Mandarin), documents, history, politics, cultural institutions, and modern Chinese literature. Options in Japanese language and modern Japanese literature.
PhD by Research in Chinese Studies / Social Anthropology (University of Leeds, 1994-1999) -
Thesis title: “Changing Uyghur Identities in Xinjiang in the 1990s.” Supervised by Professor Gregor Benton (formerly of East Asian Studies, University of Leeds) and Dr. Ray Pawson (Sociology and Social Policy, University of Leeds).
Cambridge/RSA CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) (September-October 2000) -
International House, Stowell Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne: Grade A.
January 1997-March 1999:
Teaching assistant - Dept. of East Asian Studies, University of Leeds (Chinese language and modern Chinese history at undergraduate level; Chinese-English translation at postgraduate level.
Researcher/Interpreter for “The Dragon’s Ascent,” - Totem Productions, London SW11. A multi-media project on the history of Chinese civilisation (TV documentary series, book, CD Rom). Responsibilities included research and reconnaissance for films/stills; interpreting for production crews; organising stills shoots; interviewing; fixing; creation of a stills database.
April 1992-August 1994:
EFL instructor - English language schools in Osaka and Kyoto, Japan. Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Japanese nationals of various ages.
Association for Asian Studies (AAS); Central Eurasian Studies Society (CESS); British Association for Chinese Studies (BACS - Council Member, 2011-present).
Spoken and written Chinese, Japanese and Uyghur; written French and German.
Aside from academic activities, Dr Smith Finley writes occasional articles for the UK media and acts as consultant to a number of independent documentary filmmakers, news correspondents, legal firms, refugee support organisations, and governmental and non-governmental organisations. She is a trained classical pianist.
Research interests include the formation, transformation, hybridisation and globalisation of identities among the Uyghurs of Xinjiang, NW China; strategies of symbolic resistance in Xinjiang; alternative representations of Uyghur identities in popular song/culture; the gendering of ethnopolitics in the hostess industry in Xinjiang; and the socio-cultural analysis of gendered Uyghur proverbs.
Dr. Smith Finley recently completed her monograph 'The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur-Han Relations in Contemporary Xinjiang.' This is an ethnographic study of evolving Uyghur identities and ethnic relations over a period of 20 years (from the 1989 collapse of Marxist-Leninist parties in Eastern Europe through the 1997 Ghulja disturbances to the 2009 Urumchi riots).
Together with Professor Zang Xiaowei (Sheffield University), Dr. Smith Finley co-organised an international Publication Workshop titled “Uyghur youth identities in urban Xinjiang” (8th July 2011, White Rose East Asia Centre, Sheffield). Selected papers, together with non-conference contributions, will form the basis for an edited book to be published in the Routledge series: Studies of Ethnicity in Asia.
Dr. Smith Finley has also been working on four research articles: the first, which examines underlying causes of the Urumchi riots of July 2009, was published in Inner Asia in June 2011; a second discusses the promotion and contestation of social harmony in Chinese TV drama, Xinjiang Girls; the third analyses the gendering of (ethno-) national politics in the hostess industry in Urumchi, Xinjiang; and the fourth explores how geo-political territory, identity and cultural ownership in Xinjiang are claimed and contested through the production, transmission and consumption of pop music fusion.
Dr. Smith Finley's next project will involve the socio-cultural analysis of a corpus of over 200 gendered proverbs concerning male and female roles, and male-female interactions among the Uyghurs of Xinjiang. Changes in gender norms over time will be analysed via a series of focus group discussions in which Uyghur men and women of different ages will be asked to respond to the gendered contents of representative proverbs from the corpus.
Lingzhi (Liz) Gu (Occidentalism in the academic discourse of translation studies in China). Graduated 2009.
MLitt students in Chinese Studies:
James Cummings (Homosexual identity construction at the intersection of sexuality and regionalism in Hainan province), 2012-
Farah Lodhi (Ethnic Representation and Social Marginalisation of Uyghur Migrants in Shanghai), 2012-
Anthony Baker (Chinese Conceptions of Warfare and contemporary international relations), 2012-
Dr. Smith Finley was invited to present at the following conferences, workshops and research seminars:
5th November 2012: Talk on the risks of returning Uyghur asylum seekers to China at a bi-annual seminar for Dutch lawyers and legal aid workers in the field of asylum and immigration. Seminar organised by the Dutch Council for Refugees, Congreszal Juliana, Jaarbeurs Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands. http://www.ecre.org/alliance/members/profiles/member/55.html
10th-12th May 2012: 'Return to Kashgar'. International Workshop in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the death of Ambassadør Gunnar Jarring. Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Organised by Dr. Ildikó Bellér-Hann (University of Copenhagen), Dr. Jun Sugawara (Tokyo University of Foreign Studies) and Prof. Birgit Schlyter (Stockholm University). http://asiandynamics.ku.dk/english/activities/archive/kashgar/
15th March 2012: Delivered a lecture to the Centre for Contemporary China Studies at Durham University. Series convened by Mr Mamtymin Sunuodula. https://www.dur.ac.uk/china.studies/events/
3rd-4th November 2011: 'Beyond "The Xinjiang Problem"', International Workshop held at the Australian National University (ANU). See Keynote lecture here: http://iu.edu/~panasia/events/xinjiang/
20-21 May 2011: 'Challenging the Harmonious Society: Tibetans and Uyghurs in Socialist China', International Workshop held at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS), University of Copenhagen, Denmark. http://asiandynamics.ku.dk/english/activities/archive/tibetans_uyghurs/
30th April, 2010: 'Xinjiang and Travel Writing' Workshop held at Liverpool University, organised by Professor Charles Forsdick (Liverpool University) and Professor Alex Hughes (University of Kent). www.liv.ac.uk/soclas/conferences/xinjiang/index.htm
15th April 2010: 'Xinjiang Riots 2009', One-day strategic seminar organised by Dr Uradyn Bulag of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Unit (MIASU), University of Cambridge.http://innerasiaresearch.org/?page_id=235
15th-16th May 2006: 'China-Middle East Connections', a bi-national academic conference (UK-Israel) held at Haifa University, Israel. Organised by Professor Yitzhak Shichor, Haifa University.
Dr. Smith Finley referees articles and reviews books for many leading scholarly journals, including:
She also refereed a monograph for the White Horse Press in Cambridge.
Dr Smith Finley's first published article ‘Four Generations of Uyghurs’ was named as one of the best to appear in the early issues of Inner Asia in a THES review. Her chapter ‘“Ethnic Anomaly” or Modern Uyghur Survivor? A Case Study of the Minkaohan Hybrid Identity in Xinjiang’ was singled out for commendation by Professor Nicholas Tapp (Australian National University) in a 2008 review of her co-edited volume, Situating the Uyghurs Between China and Central Asia (2007).
2012: Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies (CRCEES), University of Glasgow. Funding to support the Annual Nawruz-Noorus Postgraduate Workshop on Central Asia, held at Newcastle University, 21-22 March 2013.
2011: China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies (CIAC-AAS). Funding to support Publication Workshop 'Uyghur Youth Identities in Urban Xinjiang', held at the White Rose East Asia Centre (WREAC), Sheffield, 8th July 2011. Additional funding provided by WREAC.
2004: China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies (CIAC-AAS), in conjunction with the Chiang Ching-Kuo (CCK) Foundation; The British Academy. Funding for international conference 'Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia', 5th-6th November, 2004, co-organised with Dr Ildikó Bellér-Hann; Dr Cristina Cesàro; and Dr Rachel Harris, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Additional funding provided by SOAS.