I’m Yuexin Rachel Lin, a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Exeter. Although my expertise is in Russian history – particularly the late-imperial and early-soviet periods – I’m always the inconvenient person at the back of any gathering of Russianists who asks: “What about Asia?” I started posing this question in 2011, while pursuing an MPhil at Oxford in Russian and East European Studies, and carried on posing it through a History DPhil, also at Oxford. Unfortunately, I have not stopped since.
My research deals with the cross-border history of the Russian Far East and Northeast Asia, where multiple empires jostle for position. I’m especially interested in questions of trade, the flow of people and ideas, and the rise of competing modernities. In my doctoral thesis, I explored the issue of diaspora nationalism in the Chinese community during the 1917 revolutions and Russian Civil War, framing the prevalence of nationalist language as a source of cohesion and opportunistic activism across multiple social groups. Further projects include the Chinese response to the post-revolutionary Russian refugee crisis, in which new ideas of humanitarianism were explored; the involvement of Chinese workers on the Eastern Front of World War One; and the fate of the “rublezone” in the Russian Far East, Xinjiang and Manchuria.
As a Singaporean of Chinese descent, I am also interested in the global Chinese diaspora as a whole, from which the Russian narrative has often been omitted. My linguistic background has allowed me to focus on Chinese-language sources, both archival and from scholars working in the Sinosphere. In future, I hope to be able to include Japanese voices to the cacophony that is “mainstream” Russian historiography.
My articles have appeared in Revolutionary Russia and Historical Research, with another forthcoming in Kritika. I was also honoured to receive a grant from Université Sorbonne Paris Cité and the National University of Singapore to hold a two-day conference at Yale-NUS College, Singapore, on The Asian Arc of the Russian Revolution: Setting the East Ablaze? The experience of being in a room full of fellow Russo-Asian enthusiasts was quite exhilarating.