Ph.D. in History (2021)
Eisenberg Postdoctoral Fellow
Xiaoyue Li graduated in 2021 from the History Ph.D. program of the University of Michigan. His areas of specializations are modern Middle Eastern history, global history, postcolonial studies, and science and technology studies. His recent article has been featured in the International Journal of Middle East Studies.
Xiaoyue’s research focuses on the interplay of infrastructure, political economy, and everyday politics in colonial Egypt. His current book project emerges from my doctoral dissertation at the University of Michigan Taming the Iron Horse: Austerity, Subversion, and Revolution in Colonial Egyptian Railways, 1876-1924. The manuscript in preparation exemplifies the making and perpetuation of colonial structural violence through the reshaping of technological materiality, financial systems, global and regional economies, and grassroots social organizations. Specifically, he examines how critical yet vexing colonial ideas of balanced budget, public security, and rationalized management played into the social categorizations of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. Additionally, by exploring non-elite voices preserved in Arabic archival materials, his work features peasants, nomads, bandits, labor activists, female passengers, and their intersectionality. He argues that although subaltern Egyptians were situated at discursive margins, they played central roles in constructing colonial anxieties, which were displayed prominently in state-generated archives. Rather than viewing subaltern populations as passive receivers of technological modernity embodied in infrastructural programs and reinforced by centralized regulations, the manuscript contends instead that subalterns articulated their heterogeneous desires to redistribute social wealth, repurpose the technological promise of modern railways, and confound the intentions of colonial governance.
Xiaoyue's harbors a wide range of scholarly interests, including technology-/infrastructure-induced social inequality, invigoration and melancholy of the global left, and the (de)construction of the Third World.
Personal Website: https://sites.google.com/a/umich.edu/xiaoyueli
Fields of Study
• Modern Middle East and Africa
• Science and Technology Studies (STS)
• Infrastructure Studies
• Political Economy
• Global History
• Colonialism and Nationalism
• Postcolonial Theory