To what extent can Xinjiang / Eastern Turkestan during the late imperial and modern eras be described as a

^ “proto-national entity”?
some reading you may refer to, or using other references is also fineBenedict Anderson, Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, London: Verso, 2016.Adrienne Lynn Edgar, Tribal nation: The making of Soviet Turkmenistan, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004.Theodore Evergates (transl. & ed.), Feudal society in medieval France: Documents from the County of Champagne, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993 (e-book)Ernest Gellner, Nationalism, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1997.Lawrence Paul, Nationalism: History & theory, Harlow: Pearson Education, 2004.Hira Lal Shukra, Tribal history: A new interpretation, Delhi: B.R. Publishing Corp., 1988.Rabindranath Tagore, Nationalism, London: Macmillan & Co., 1917.Nicola Di Cosmo and Dalizhabu Bao, Manchu-Mongol relations on the eve of the Qing Conquest: A documentary history, Leiden: Brill, 2003.Mark Elliot, The Manchu way: The eight banners and ethnic identity in late imperial China, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.Mark Elliot, “Manchu figurations of historical process in the early seventeenth century”, in: Lynn A. Struve (ed.), Time, temporality, and imperial transition: East Asia from Ming to Qing, Honolulu: AAS/University of Hawai’i Press, 2005.Johan Elverskog, Our great Qing: The Mongols, Buddhism and the state in late imperial China, Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2006.Valerie Hansen, The Silk Route: A new history, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.Ray Huang, 1587 – a year of no significance: The Ming dynasty in decline, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981.Julia Lovell, The Great Wall: China against the world, 1000 BC-AD 2000, London: Atlantic Books, 2006.Edward J. M. Rhoads, Manchus & Han: Ethnic relations and political power in late Qing and early republican China, 1861–1928, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000.