Students and Alumni
XIE Xin, Ryan
XIE Xin, Ryan

PhD Candidate

Educational qualification B.A. in History, Sun Yat-sen University
Master 2 in Modern and Contemporary History, Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3
MPhil in Sociocultural Anthropology, the University of Hong Kong
Home town Zhuhai, China
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I am an historian and anthropologist of science, technology, and informal economy with a regional focus on China and East Africa.

Curious with academic discourse in globalization studies which too often frame Africa as a “problem” if not completely neglect it in discussions of transnational mobility of knowledge and people with expertise, I conducted seven-month fieldwork in south China during my MPhil studies to explore business strategies of transnational sub-Saharan African women traders. My MPhil thesis examines the rich market knowledge and active agency of these women in making use of the proliferating transnational infrastructures to expand their business networks, and to negotiate social mobility as well as gender hegemony in their home communities.

The fascinating stories I encountered and the rich narratives of people in making sense of their meaningful lives make me determined to bring in more perspectives of people from Africa into academic discourses of globalization, development, and STS studies. My interlocutors also inspired me to choose hydraulic infrastructures and transnational engineering practice as a starting point for this intellectual pursuit, because almost all my interlocutors from sub-Saharan Africa share the anxiety and aspiration for infrastructures having noticed the asymmetry in infrastructure development between China and their home countries in Africa.

Using Uganda as a point of departure, my tentative research project looks to decipher how China-built water distribution infrastructures are designed, modified, approved, assembled, monitored, and maintained in the hands of local, national, and global stakeholders, while this engineering practice travels from China to Ugandan local communities. I take engineering as both a technical and social practice, and focus on its constant dialogue with natural, social, and cultural complex.   

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