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Susan Whitfield is an English historian and librarian who worked at the British Library in London, England. She obtained a PhD in historiography from SOAS, University of London in 1995, with a dissertation entitled Politics against the Pen on the Tang dynasty poet Liu Zongyuan. She now specialises in the social and intellectual history of the Tang dynasty and the history of the Silk Road.[1]

Whitfield was the first director of the International Dunhuang Project, a position which she held for 24 years, from 1993 until July 2017.[2] In this capacity she was involved in research and cataloguing of Central Asian manuscripts at the British Library. She has a particular interest in identifying forged manuscripts from Dunhuang.[3] In an interview at the University of Minnesota in 2013, she talks about how she came to her interest in China and Central Asia and ways in which her interest in Central Asia has made her rethink Chinese history, regarding it as rather more fragmented and diverse than unitary narratives might have us believe.[4]


  • Whitfield, Susan (2018). Silk, Slaves and Stupas - Material Culture of the Silk Road. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-28178-3.
  • Whitfield, Susan (2015). Life along the Silk Road. University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-96029-9.
  • Whitfield, Roderick; Whitfield, Susan; Agnew, Neville (2000). Cave temples of Dunhuang: art and history on the silk road. British Library.
  • Whitfield, Susan (2002). Dunhuang Manuscript Forgeries. British Library. ISBN 978-0-7123-4631-3.
  • Whitfield, Susan (2004). The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith. Serindia Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-1-932476-13-2.
  • Whitfield, Susan (2004). Aurel Stein on the Silk Road. British Museum. ISBN 978-0-7141-2416-2.


  1. ^ "Staff Research Profiles : Dr Susan Whitfield". British Library. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  2. ^ Whitfield, Susan (2017). "Farewell from the IDP Director". IDP News. International Dunhuang Project (49–50): 15. ISSN 1354-5914.
  3. ^ "IDP Research Profiles : Susan Whitfield". International Dunhuang Project. Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  4. ^

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