Mark Elliott's interest in East Asia began at Yale, where he earned his BA and MA. After several years of study and archival research in Taiwan, the PRC, and Japan, he earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in the history of the last imperial dynasty, the Qing. A leading figure in what is sometimes called the "New Qing History," he is among the very few historians in the United States trained in the use of Manchu-language sources, upon which his first book, The Manchu Way (Stanford, 2001), is largely based. His second book, a biography of the Qianlong emperor, was published in 2009. He is at work on a new book examining the connections between the Manchu empire and modern China.
His research on the Manchus has led to an interest in the construction of ethnicity as a comparative historical problem, especially in the context of other conquest dynasties (Liao, Jin, Yuan), but also elsewhere around the world. His other teaching and research interests include relations between China and Inner Asia, the comparative history of the frontier, and the Silk Road. Professor Elliott also oversees the Department's instruction in Manchu, Mongolian, and Uyghur. A member of the Committee on Inner Asian and Altaic Studies, Professor Elliott is Chair of the PhD Committee on History and East Asian Languages.