History Department
History Department

Ben Yeager

BA History, Centre College

PhD Candidate
Ben Yeager



Maoist China, comparative studies of East Asia, state-building, group politics, intellectuals, propaganda, ideology, totalitarianism, foreign policy


Ben is a historian of East Asia with a research focus on Maoist China, under the advising of Dr. Huaiyin Li. His dissertation, "Knowledge Capital in Socialist China: The Politicking of Intellectuals, Cadres, and State, 1950-1959" explores the political engagement of Chinese intellectuals immediately after the inception of the People's Republic. Drawing from archival research primarily in the city of Shanghai, "Knowledge Capital in Socialist China" suggests that both intellectuals and low-ranking party cadres were able to influence state policy and advocate for their collective interests in spite of the new regime's autocratic character. Ben sees the oppositional relationship between intellectuals and cadres--rather than solely the political whims of national political figures--as a powerful explanation of the political tumult during the first decade of the People's Republic.

Ben graduated with a BA in history from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky. Before coming to UT Austin, Ben spent a year living in Chongqing, China, where he taught English at Chongqing University of Technology while improving his Chinese on the side. He entered the graduate program at UT in the fall semester of 2015, completing his coursework in the spring of 2017 and passing his comprehensive examinations in the spring of 2018. He spent the fall of 2018 in Shanghai on a research trip, returning at the end of the year to begin work on his dissertation. Ben's experiences at Centre have imparted a passion for education that has continued through his graduate work. He has worked in UT's supplemental instruction program, given guest lectures, and conducted informal exam review sessions for students. 

Ben has presented his work at the Southwest Conference on Asian Studies, and is working on writing a number of articles based on his dissertation research.

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