Caught between fact and fantasy

For me, writing is both a profession and a passion. I write about my ethnographical research, as well as crafting speculative fiction and heavy metal lyrics.

In 2017 I published a book based on fifteen years of interviews and research on China’s borders with the former Soviet Union. The lands between China and Central Asia have always been in flux and, today, they are militarily, economically and geographically more important than ever before. I follow over thirty villagers, smugglers, border guards and local politicians to show how border control and nationality is experienced by individuals, and how people ‘use’ borders for their own political and economic purposes. Through this I also formulate a critique of traditional approaches to ethnopolitics and the quality of Eurasian flows for far-removed audiences.

In late 2021, Finnish black metal band Darkwoods My Betrothed released Angel of Carnage Unleashed (Napalm Records), a thematic narrative album on the eighteenth century’s Great Northern War (1700-1721) for which I composed all lyrics and social media marketing. It is a unique blend of brutal, fast driven black metal and epic anthems, where eerie screams merge with heroic clean vocals, monumental choirs and majestic keyboards along with gory stories of famine, war, plague and the inescapable brutality of Finland’s nature.

My current Work in Progress is one that entangles fact and fiction by speculating on the drama that unfolds between revolution, death and anthropology. This work of literary science fiction follows a small group of reluctant explorers who find themselves far from the northern Russian lands they call home, ground down by the moral choices demanded by an unwelcome and hostile environment.

The manuscript of this book will soon be ready for beta-reading, and I am actively seeking to expand my group of critical readers before I tackle the issue of literary representation and publication. Please do not hesitate to contact me for further details.

In the near future, I will also be embarking upon a new non-fiction book project on lives and livelihoods in China’s remarkable and mysterious second-tier cities.

“The aim of this book is to do away with overly imaginative accounts of factors (the Uighur factor, the Taliban factor, etc.), actors (China, Russia but, tellingly in a world view dominated by global capital, never Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan), and flows (in pipelines, of extremists or narcotics).”
Introduction, China’s Borderlands


“Steven Parham’s illuminating book […] offers an invaluable insight into the factors that have shaped the lives, loyalties and identities of people in these regions during a period of great political change.”
– Nick Holdstock, journalist and author


“The album is inspired by […] the horrors endured by both Finnish soldiers and civilians. The acidic ‘In Evil, Sickness And In Grief’ is as staunch an anti-war song as you’ll find, unflinching in part, but melody-driven and sorrowful in spirit.”
– Steve Beebee for Kerrang! magazine




Teaching, research, consultancy and
coaching that will change your


Explore my books and articles, from
social science to science fiction

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