Scholars praise the contributions of historian Nabijan Tursun on his 60th birthday

by Anne Kader





On April 15, 2023, the Almaty branch of the Uyghur Ethno-Cultural Center of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Council of Scholars, and the Uyghur Youth Union of Kazakhstan held a virtual international conference dedicated to the 60th birthday of Nabijan Tursun, a well-known Uyghur scholar and historian.


More than 20 Uyghur scholars, intellectuals, and journalists from Kazakhstan, the United States, Russia, Germany, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Japan participated in the conference, praising Dr. Tursun for his monumental contributions to Uyghur history and culture through his years of extensive research and writing. 


The conference organizers, Dolkuntay Abduhelil, the president of the Uyghur-Ethno Cultural Association, and Professor Masimjan Velamov, the Chairman of the Council of Scholars, sincerely congratulated Dr. Tursun for his achievements and contributions to Uyghur history researches. Dr. Rakhmatjan Yusufov, a researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Kazakhstan, and Professor Ablet Kamalov shared a presentation on Dr. Tursun’s life in research and academia. 


Abdulakhat Khojayev, a professor at the Institute of Oriental Studies in Uzbekistan and a well-known historian, praised Dr. Tursun’s creativity and dedication to Uyghur history through his 13-volume General History of Uyghurs. “It is a miraculous contribution not only for the Uyghurs but also for the whole of Central Asia and the Turkic world,” said Professor Khojayev.


Mamatjan Juma, the Deputy Director of Radio Free Asia’s Uyghur Service, discussed his long-term working relationship with Nabijan Tursun, emphasizing Dr. Tursun’s contributions to the Uyghur history research and contributions to the Uyghur Service as a senior editor since 2009. Mr. Juma emphasized Dr. Tursun’s impact on RFA’s Uyghur Service through his ideas and works.


Dr. Joshua Freeman expressed his heartful congratulations to Dr. Tursun on his 60th birthday through video, sharing his recognition and respect for Dr. Tursun and his achievements in academia.


Tahir Imin, an Asian American advancing justice in Washington DC and beyond and the founder of the Uyghur News Agency, explained the success of Nabijan Tursun from 9 points: He claimed that Dr. Tursun had a strong influence in the Uyghur region in the strengthening of national ideas among Uyghurs, bridging the gap between Central Asian Uyghur diaspora with Uyghurs in Uyghur region and Western countries. 


In addition, Dr. Ablet Semet, a researcher in Uyghur culture in Germany, and Professor Alimjan Khamrayev in Kazakhstan emphasized the academic value of Dr. Tursun’s work in Uyghur history and its wide use of them. Erkin Emet, a professor at Ankara University, recalled his 40-year relationship with Dr. Tursun, sharing more about Dr. Tursun’s extensive knowledge and contribution to the study of Uyghur history. 


Dr. Maghpirat Kamal, an associate professor at Beykent University in Istanbul, praised Dr. Tursun’s research, calling him a “star in Uyghur historiography.”


Mr. Rafkat Sadikov, the head of the Russian Uyghur Cultural Society in Moscow, stressed that Dr. Tursun’s work has made a lasting impression on Russian scholars in Moscow. Mr. Sadikov witnessed Dr. Tursun’s commitment to history during his doctoral studies from 1990-1996 at the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. Dr. Tursun was respected by Russian scientists for his commitment to Uyghur history, playing a pivotal role in connecting Russian scholars with Uyghur culture and society. 


Written by Dr. Nabijan Tursun, the 13-volumed General History of Uyghurs is in the process of publication. As of April 2023, a total of 8 volumes have been fully published, including multiple volumes dedicated to the history of the East Turkestan Republics from 1944-1949 and 1933-1938 in Uyghur Arabic and Cyrillic in Ankara, Turkey, and Almaty, Kazakhstan. Additional translated publications in Russian, Turkish, and English are currently in progress.


Dr. Nabijan Tursun has published more than 300 articles on Uyghur history and culture. He is the author of The Uyghur Reader, which was published by Dunwoody Press in 2007. He also authored The Issues of Uyghur Ethnogeny in Chinese Historiography in Russian in Moscow 1998, as well as The Issues of Political History of Uyghur in Chinese Historiography. 

  1. Tursun is also one of the co-authors of Xinjiang: China’s Muslim Borderland, edited by S. Frederik Starr and published in 2004, and The Uyghur Community: Diaspora, Identity, and Geopolitics which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018.






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