Yixuan Li

My Research

My PhD thesis sets the mass-produced chicken as the object and investigates the history of its transformation from backyard/individual farming to industrial farming in China. From traditional livestock domestication to modern intensive farming, this project believes that the modern chicken has already become not only a hybrid of selective breeds but also a hybrid of the nonhuman body and human intentions, having been transformed from a pure animal to a technoscientific artefact. This project will analyse the social issues that have arisen in the production and consumption of broilers. The research focuses on the social problems that have occurred in the production and consumption of broilers (related to food security), such as the antimicrobial resistance (AMR) problems in both animals and humans arising from the drug use in feed, the public debate on the safety of fast-growing chickens, and the biopolitical and biocapital intentions behind the genetic modification of chicken breeds.

This PhD project will specifically study the intensive farming and commercial production of broilers in contemporary Chinese contexts, where the goals and pathways of national agricultural development differ from those of Western countries. In doing so, it will consider the nation’s dual requirements of both developing ecological agriculture as well as increasing commercial value, and it will research the problems of the modern broiler industry in China. For example, what are the political and economic implications behind the vigorous development of local chicken production and how could it contribute to the improvement of food security? How did farmers react to the changing policies? 

About me

I started my PhD programme at CHSTM in the summer of 2021, and my current PhD thesis is an extended study based on my previous studies. I got the BA in Philosophy, and the dissertation is an ethical discussion about the chicken we’re eating today. I completed the MA in Philosophy of Science and did a historical study on the year after the publication of Rachel Cason’s Silent Spring through the lens of STS. I then did my second master, MRes in Science and Technology Studies, at the University of Edinburgh, and researched the genetic change and improvement process of the chicken and interpreted it by using the Actor Network Theory (ANT). 

Research Interests

Science and Technology Studies (STS); The Sociology of Scientific Knowledge (SSK); Animal Studies and Human & Animal Relationships; Philosophy of Science; Environmental History.