She specializes in the pre-modern and early modern history of China, particularly the Qing empire (1644–1911), with a focus on frontiers and borderlands, inter-polity relations, STS (science, technology, and society), and the ways in which these issues informed empire-building projects. Using the paradigms of transnational history and empire studies, her research goes beyond the limits of modern nation-states and examines the position of the trans-Himalayan region in global history through a framework of comparative imperialism. Her research draws on materials in multiple languages, including Chinese, Manchu, Tibetan and Nepali, collected through extensive archival research in Beijing, Taipei, Lhasa and Kathmandu. She is currently completing her first book project, "The Limits of Empire: The Qing-Gurkha War, China's Borderlands, and the Trans-Himalayan Paradigm, 1788-1850."
Her research has been generously funded by the American Historical Association, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard Asia Center, the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, the Fung Foundation, and the Henry Luce Foundation.
Lin has a double-major B.A. in history and economics from Renmin University of China, and an M.A. in regional studies of East Asia from Harvard University.
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