Jomo R. Smith

Research Affiliate


B.A. East Asian Studies and Computer Science, Johns Hopkins University
M.A. Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Jomo Smith is a PhD candidate in Chinese History at The University of California, San Diego. His current work, and the subject of his dissertation, is  titled, “Empire in a Corner: Muslims and Tibetans on the Chinese Frontier”. In his project, the Chinese frontier is southern Gansu province during the 1890s to the 1940s, a region of shared and contested space where Tibetans, Chinese Muslims and Han Chinese often jockeyed for power or mere survival. China experienced tremendous changes during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the Qing empire fell and a burgeoning nation-state struggled to maintain territorial integrity in regions where the immediate ethnic affiliation was not clearly Chinese. While Jomo is interested in deconstructing national identities, he is also interested in  nation-state formation, particularly for those who have had to forge a polity with the albatross of history on their shoulders and the winds of strife buffeting their every attempt. Outside of China, Jomo has spent two years living in Korea and traveled to Japan at least seven times for academic and related work. Jomo’s appreciation, knowledge and teaching experience in East Asian history has given him a sensitive ear for the historical issues that still gnaw at the relationships between China, Japan, and Korea. It is always his hope that history will be used less as a tool of political football and more as a mirror of our interconnectedness.

Prior to his appointment as visiting scholar at MIT, Jomo has been a visiting scholar at Minzu University in Beijing, China and National Tsinghua University in Hsinchu, Taiwan. He has also studied at Nanjing University and National Taiwan University. Jomo has also worked for the National Science Foundation’s REU program in China on an environment and development research project. His publications include a portion of his Master’s thesis titled, "Christianity with Chinese Characteristics: The origins and evolution of the Adventist mission in a Chinese province". Journal of Adventist Mission Studies 8/1 (Fall 2012). His research to date has been graciously funded by UCSD’s Cota Robles Fellowship, the Jacob Javits Fellowship, the NSEP Boren Fellowship, the China Scholarship Council and the Association for Asian Studies CIAC mini grant.