Shiqi Ma

Graduate Student


I am a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Politics with a minor in American politics. My main research agenda centers on slum governance with a regional focus on China. Methodologically, I combine the extraction of satellite imagery, spatial statistics, text analysis, and qualitative methods. I am also interested in (i) civil society in the Chinese context and (ii) China’s new wave of nationalism and propaganda tactics.

Research Focus

My dissertation examines the political reasons that drive authoritarian governments’ demolition of slums and eviction of migrant workers. The research stems from three puzzles: the myth of slum-free China, the discrepancy between recent empirical patterns and preexisting explanations, and the lack of understanding of low-paid migrants’ political rule under non-electoral regimes.

I argue that Chinese autocrats use demolition and eviction as preemptive and coercive tools to reduce illegibility. To test this argument, I will generate an original database about slums in Beijing and Shanghai, examine the variation across Chinese cities, and trace the timeline from development-oriented demolition to legibility-oriented demolition.