Taiye Selasi once said in a great speech, "don't ask where I'm from, ask where I'm a local". Here I will tell you both.
I come from Harbin, a little pocket of Russian heritage inside northeastern China. But "I'm a local" in Berkeley, California - the home of my alma mater - and in Berlin, where I got my first job and lived the freest, wildest year of my life. At one point or another, I have either lived in, or traveled to almost fifty countries around the world. Whether this has begotten my restless streak or the other way around, I can no longer tell.
Right now I'm pursuing a PhD in History at Stanford University, where I study totalitarianism in the 20th century. My research focuses on the interface between state and individual under totalitarianism, as well as how economic organization and material culture influence political consciousness and identity. My dissertation traces the end of socialism in China in the late 70s and early 80s, as it was experienced and shaped from the ground up. Alongside academic work, photography is my greatest passion. To me they are both ways of encountering the world - people especially - in a state of creative contemplation.
I believe in joie de vivre, in ordinary people, in having adventures and indulging the senses. When I'm staying put in one place, I drink heavily, scour the earth for pungent and runny Brie, and find excuses to go on long drives.