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Dr Thomas Burnham

Lecturer in Chinese (E&S)


After receiving language training at Donghua University and graduating from New Mexico State University with a Bachelor of Arts in history and government in 2012, I studied Mandarin and pursued a master's degree in foreign language education at Hebei Normal University from 2012 to 2014. During that time, I continued my language training at Shenyang University and traveled back and forth from Shijiazhuang to Khabarovsk and Moscow. I then lived and worked in Moscow for one year before returning to NMSU in 2015 to write my master's thesis on the Sino-Soviet Split.

For my doctoral research, I studied Sino-Soviet engagement with Africa in the 1960s, focusing on the two Cold War powers' competing aid efforts on the continent. Beginning in the late 1950s, both the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China leveraged foreign aid in Africa to realize their respective foreign policy goals. My thesis examines Soviet and Chinese aid during the first decade of the decolonization of Africa and seeks to understand those efforts both in terms of their negotiation and implementation as well as in terms of their local reception and on-the-ground impact.

Today, I am exploring the legacies of Stalin and Stalinism in the PRC. I am especially interested in the influence of key Stalinist texts on China in the Mao era and beyond.

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Aside from my interests in language education and preparing students to study abroad in China, my primary research interests are PRC history, global history, and comparative communism.

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