In conversation with Jonathan Chatwin
Did you always have an interest in Chinese history?
My first degree was actually nothing to do with history; it was in librarianship, which has been hugely useful in preparing me to do archival research – I walk straight into the archives and know where to start! When I came to the UK, my academic interest was more around the history of religion, in particular Judaism. Through that I met a group of Jewish people who were born in Manchuria and became interested in their story. I initially wanted to pursue a PhD on the subject, but as I started, I changed my mind as I came across a vast amount of material on Chinese perception of the Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries; it was this that really began my interest in modern Chinese history.