Assistant Professor of History
Office: 4121 Mosse Humanities
Mailbox: 4011 Mosse Humanities
Curriculum Vitae (pdf)
Office Hours: TBA
I am a historian of modern China. But I am particularly interested in the ways that natural resources define and often limit state power in Chinese border regions. My book, Natural Resources and the New Frontier: Constructing Modern China’s Borderlands, which will be published by the University of Chicago Press in spring 2018, offers a new material-centered perspective on the development of institutions of state power and authority in China’s far western province of Xinjiang. I focus in this book on the efforts of a motley assortment of state and non-state, Chinese and non-Chinese actors to find, exploit, process, and transport various natural resources in 20th century Xinjiang, including gold, petroleum, wool, and rare minerals, among others. In the end, my work offers a unique perspective on the development of Xinjiang’s connections to the modern Chinese state, the roots of ethnic tensions and unrest in the region, and provides a framework for thinking about the integration border regions more generally.
Building on my interests in natural resources and the material world along China’s borders, I have begun research on my second project, which focuses on the Trans-Pacific material exchange of American industrial goods and Lend-Lease equipment for Chinese raw materials during the 1940s. My work reveals the power of these weapons, industrial goods, and raw materials that were traveling between the United States and China during the wartime and civil war periods. My early research finds that the movement of these goods shaped a number of institutions and infrastructures central to modern China, and helped create networks of exchange that continue to serve as the economic and institutional foundations of Cold War East Asia.
I have published articles on gold mining, roads, and geological surveys and, broadly speaking have research and teaching interests that center around environmental history, borderlands, material centered histories, and political economy. I am currently accepting graduate applications for students of Chinese history with interests in any of these areas.
Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 2012
M.A., Washington University in St. Louis, 2005
B.A., Macalester College, 1999
- Forthcoming Book: Natural Resources and the New Frontier: Constructing Modern China’s Borderlands (University of Chicago Press, In Production, expected date of publication, April 2018)
- With Agnieszka Joniak-Luthi (researcher, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Ludwig Maximilien University, Munich, Germany) “Territory, Border, Infrastructure: Imagining and Crafting National Borderlands in 20th Century China” in Crossroads Asia Working Paper Series 36 (December 2016)
- “The Spatial Legacy of Informal Empire: Oil, the Soviet Union, and the Contours of Economic Development in China’s Far West,” Twentieth Century China 40, no. 3 (October, 2015), 220-237
- With Jia Jianfei (research fellow, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences) “Xinjiang and the Promise of Salvation in Free China” in 1943: China at the Crossroads, Matthew Combs, Joseph Esherick, eds. (Cornell University East Asia Series, 2015)
- “Crisis and the Development of China’s Southwestern Periphery: the Transformation of Panzhihua, 1936-1969,” Modern China 38, no. 5 (Sept. 2012) 559-584
- “Turning Prospectors into Settlers: Gold, Immigrant Miners and the Settlement of the Frontier in Late Qing Xinjiang” in Paul Pickowicz and Sherman Cochran, eds. China on the Margins (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University East Asia Series, 2010)
- 2018 Research Grant for Foreign Scholars in Chinese Studies (funded by the Center for Chinese Studies, National Central Library, Taiwan, Republic of China)
- 2017-2018 Madison Teaching and Learning Excellence Fellow (funded by the University of Wisconsin, Madison, Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning)
- 2016 Crossroads Asia Fellowship (funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich, Germany (Summer)
- 2013-2014 American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) China Studies/Henry Luce Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship
- 2012 Dryden Hull Endowed Award for Best Dissertation, University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
- 2009-2010 Fulbright Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Award (DDRA)
- Shiyi Xiang