Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Patricia Ehrkamp


This doctoral dissertation providesa novel perspective on the everyday lives of construction workers in urban China, demonstrating the underpinnings of urban infrastructure and citizenship policy in affective and gendered relations surrounding the construction industry. Drawing on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Shanghai, China, this dissertation makes a series of three related arguments: First, focusing on the role that migrant labor plays in the construction of urban infrastructure in Shanghai, I argue that the physical existence of infrastructure itself is inextricably tied to systems that govern rural-urban migration across China. Second, building from the Chinese concept of suzhi as both a set of standards for embodied conduct and a core element of urban citizenship, this dissertation contributes to citizenship and migration literature by arguing that the exclusionary structure of citizenship is constituted affectively, in the relationship between bodies in space. Finally, I focus specifically on the expressions and experiences of masculinity among low-waged construction laborers. Taken together, these arguments make substantial contributions to research on processes of migration and border-making, as well as providing novel empirical work on men’s migration into the Chinese construction industry.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

This study was supported by the Fulbright Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad fellowship (Award No. P022A180041) in 2019-2020.