Dr. Daniel Prior

Professor of History 

PHONE: 513-529-7148
270 Upham Hall

Degrees and Institutions 

Ph.D. (History) Indiana University
M.A. Indiana University
B.A. Yale University 


Daniel Prior first began researching Kirghiz oral traditions on a horseback expedition in the Tian Shan mountains in 1994. After he completed his bachelors at Yale, Dr. Prior received his Ph.D. from Indiana University in 2002. He joined the Miami University faculty as an Assistant Professor in History and Executive Director of the Central Eurasian Studies Society, which moved to Miami University from Harvard University in Summer 2007. In 2012, he was a co-curator of the Grass Routes: Pathways to Eurasian Cultures exhibition at the Miami University Art Museum.

Dr. Prior's research interests are inner Asian history, nomadic culture, and oral heroic poetry. Dr. Prior is currently working on two projects: a translation of the Kirghiz epic Manas, and a comparative study of circumpolar peoples' relations with reindeer and caribou (the result of his participation in the 2012-2013 Altman Fellows program, "The Human and the Non-human: Exploring Intersections between Science and the Humanities").

Dr. Prior's awards and fellowships include the American Council of Learned Societies International and Area Studies Fellowship (2010), Individual Advanced Research Opportunities grant from the International Research and Exchanges Board (2008), First Annual Indo-Eurasian Paper Prize from the International Association for Comparative Mythology (2007), and a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Humanities (2006-07).

Daniel Prior has been awarded research appointments to work on an abridged translation of the “classic” version of the Kirghiz epic Manas written down from oral performances by the bard Sagymbai Orozbakov in the 1920s: a Committee for Faculty Reseach (CFR) Summer Research Appointment in summer 2015, and the following fall as a Foreign Visiting Fellow at the Slavic-Eurasian Research Center, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Japan. Dr. Prior has been researching the Kirghiz epic tradition for more than twenty years.

Dr. Prior taught previously at The Ohio State University and Indiana University, and was head of the library of the Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies at Indiana University. He has lived in China, Japan, and for three and a half years in Kyrghyzstan, before and after its independence from the Soviet Union.

REEES Related Courses 

  • HST 230A Mongols and their World
  • HST 324 Eurasian Nomads and History
  • HST 670B Tribes, States and Empires
  • ATH/HST 436/536 /POL 440/540/REL 470/570/RUS 436 Havighurst Colloquia

Selected Publications

  • "High Rank and Power among the Northern Kirghiz: Terms and Their Problems, 1845-1864," in Paolo Sartori (ed.), Explorations in the Social History of Modern Central Asia (19th-Early 20th Century) (Brill's Inner Asian Library 29; Leiden/Boston: Brill, August 2013)
  • The Šabdan Baatır Codex: Epic and the Writing of Northern Kirghiz History, edition, translation and interpretations, with a facsimile of the unique manuscript (Brill's Inner Asian Library 28; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2013
  • "Sparks and Embers of the Kirghiz Epic Tradition," Fabula 51/1-2 (2010)
  • "Travels of Mount Qāf: From Legend to 42º 0' N 79º 51'," Oriente Moderno 89/2 (2009)
  • “Heroes, Chieftains, and the Roots of Kirghiz Nationalism,” Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism, 6/2 (2006)
  • "Tonyuquq's Humiliation and an Old Turkic Etymology," in Stéphane Grivelet, Ruth I. Meserve, Agnes Birtalan, and Giovanni Stary (ed.), The Black Master: Essays on Central Eurasia in Honor of György Kara on His 70th Birthday (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 2005)
  • The Semetey of Kenje Kara: A Kirghiz Epic Performance on Phonograph, with a musical score and a compact disc of the phonogram; edited, translated and with an introduction and commentary (Turcologica 59; Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz), 2006
  • "Patron, Party, Patrimony: Notes on the Cultural History of the Kirghiz Epic Tradition," (Papers on Inner Asia 33; Bloomington: Indiana University, Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 2000)
  • "Bok-Murun's Itinerary Ridden: Report on an Expedition through Kirghiz Epic Geography," Central Asiatic Journal 42/2 (1998)