Anna Zhang

Ph.D. Candidate
Job Market Candidates
Dissertation Title
Go West, Young Han: State Agents for Containing Armed Insurgencies in Xinjiang
Anna Zhang

Anna’s dissertation seeks to understand how communist China projects power in its peripheral regions in challenging geopolitical context.

Drawing on her ethnographic fieldwork in Xinjiang and micro-level archival data from 500 historical annals, she shows that the state had been able to contain armed insurgency during the Maoist period (1949-1975) by employing over two million Han Chinese youths from inland China as state agents, resettling them in Xinjiang to suppress insurgent attacks without competing for resources with the noncombatant locals. Key to this ability was the state’s monopoly over the market up to the 1978 market reform, after which the Han agents began to pursue profit-driven activities and shifted away from their initial function of deterring indigenous violence. Her project raises questions about the conventional syllogism between commitment to private property and state capacity.

Anna’s research combines qualitative and quantitative data, and integrates diverse research methods, such as process tracing, quasi-experimental design, and game-theoretic approach. Her works have appeared in International Organization and the Journal of Theoretical Politics.


Research Interests

Fields of Study
Comparative Politics
International Relations