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Wielding the 'Sharp Sword': Petroleum and State Power in China's Far West, 1955-1961
University of Michigan Center for Chinese Studies hosts a talk with Judd Kinzley on the relationship between oil and state development in Xinjiang.
Focusing on the efforts to pinpoint, extract, process, and develop petroleum in China's westernmost province of Xinjiang this talk seeks to offer a new resource-centered perspective on the process of state formation in the early People's Republic. In this talk, Professor Kinzley will reveal the often overlooked connection between the development of Chinese political institutions, coercive apparatus, infrastructure, and immigrant communities in the 1950s and early 1960s with the larger effort to gain access to Xinjiang's rich oil wealth. This approach not only corrects the historical record on the Chinese process of state formation, but also uncovers the roots of indigenous unrest and violence in this border region.
Judd Kinzley is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a historian of modern China with research and teaching interests that include environmental history, state power, industrial development, and wartime mobilization. His research tends to center around understanding the connections that exist between state power and the natural world in various Chinese peripheral and border regions, and is currently working on a manuscript on mining and the extension of the Chinese state into Xinjiang province in China’s far west during the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.