Duke Kunshan University Humanities Research Center

Duke Kunshan University Humanities Research Center (HRC) promotes research and creative expression in the arts and humanities, and encourages interdisciplinary efforts. Working in close partnership with Duke’s Franklin Humanities Institute, the HRC functions as a key research bridge between faculty and students at Duke and DKU. In addition, the HRC facilitates co-curricular research training, treating the entire DKU campus as a laboratory for humanities research.

The HRC lies at the core of DKU’s mission to reinvent liberal arts and science education in a 21st century global context. We bring students, researchers and faculty together to investigate the fundamental questions of human being, and to bring the power of the humanities to bear on the pressing questions of the present age. In particular, humanities research contributes to DKU’s seven animating principles.

  • Rooted Globalism
    The HRC seeks to interpret the contemporary global context in terms of its relation to the world’s cultures and traditions.
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving
    Through its research into cultural, ethnic, and gender diversity the HRC strengthens collaboration across and within diverse groups of people.
  • Research and Practice
    The HRC trains student researchers so as to enhance their learning experience and develop their capacity to produce capstone signature works.
  • Lucid Communication
    The ability to read, write, and speak with critical rigor lies at the heart of humanistic endeavors.
  • Independence and Creativity
    The HRC fosters research and creative practice in the arts on the DKU campus with the goal of developing the human capacity for creativity and imagination.
  • Wise Leadership
    Through research into the world’s ethical traditions and the practice of contemporary philosophical inquiry the HRC place humane wisdom and ethical responsibility at the heart of the liberal arts and science university.
  • A Purposeful Life
    Research into literature, history, philosophy and religion all provide insight into the fundamental humanistic questions of what a purposeful life consists of, and how it should be pursued.


Humanities Research Center
Duke Kunshan University
8 Duke Avenue
Kunshan, Jiangsu
215316 China

To stay in touch, please join our mailing list.


James Miller: j.e.miller@dukekunshan.edu.cn
Carlos Rojas: c.rojas@duke.edu

Administrative Assistant

Chi Zhang: chi.zhang323@dukekunshan.edu.cn


Whose Karate? Language and Cultural Learning in a Multilingual Karate Club in London

Date: Feb.26, 2021 Time: 8 pm (China time)/7 am (EST)/12pm (UK time) Zoom Meeting ID: 988 6817 2079 This talk aims to explore language learning as a process of cultural translation and translanguaging. The empirical base of the argument draws upon a sociolinguistic ethnography of translanguaging practices in a karate club in east London, UK.  Through examining …

Finding Midori: Being, Becoming and Belonging

By Hajra Farooqui Class of 2022 The literature faculty of the Arts and Humanities division at Duke Kunshan University have organized a Literature Reading Series sponsored by the Humanities Research Center. Throughout this semester, the center will host an array of guest speakers from around the world as they present and discuss their work with …


The Humanities Research Center funds a number of labs and projects from DKU and Duke faculty with a DKU connection. Please see our ongoing call for proposals.

Humanities Labs

Humanities Labs engage undergraduates in advanced research alongside faculty and graduate student mentors/collaborators from DKU and Duke. Organized around a central theme, each lab brings together at least two faculty and students from the humanities and other disciplines in interdisciplinary, vertically integrated research projects. Labs may be co-located at Duke.

Experimental Initiatives

The Humanities Research Center supports a number of faculty-led experimental initiatives through its regular calls for proposals.

Annual Conferences

The Humanities Research Center hosts two annual conferences. A fall conference showcases the research of DKU faculty. A spring conference fosters research capacity among undergraduate students.

Book Manuscript Workshops

Book Manuscript Workshops support DKU professors in the tenure and promotion process.

Research Workshops

Research Workshops support the production of an edited book or special issue of a journal by bringing researchers together for meetings on the DKU campus.


Apply for Funding from the Humanities Research Center


Faculty affiliated with DKU or Duke are invited to apply for funding for projects with a humanistic aspect to be undertaken at DKU or jointly between DKU and Duke.


All students at DKU are eligible to apply for positions as student fellows in a number of activities and research labs at the Humanities Research Center.

Applications are now being accepted for the following projects and activities:


The Humanities Research Center is led by two co-directors, James Miller at Duke Kunshan University, and Carlos Rojas at Duke University. The co-directors work with an advisory board of scholars from both universities. The center welcomes the involvement of all Duke faculty, DKU faculty, and affiliated scholars whose work has a humanistic dimension.


James Miller

James Miller, PhD
James Miller is the inaugural Professor of Humanities at Duke Kunshan University and Associate Dean for Interdisciplinary Strategy. He is co-director of the Humanities Research Center and responsible for fostering interdisciplinary research in the arts, humanities and interpretive social sciences at DKU. His research lies at the intersection of religion, philosophy, culture and ecology, and he is a noted expert on Daoism, China’s indigenous religion. He has published six books including, most recently, China’s Green Religion: Daoism and the Quest for a Sustainable Future (Columbia 2017).

Carlos Rojas

Carlos Rojas, PhD
Carlos Rojas is Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; and Arts of the Moving Image. His research focuses on issues of gender and visuality, corporeality and infection, and nationalism and diaspora studies, particularly as they relate to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the global Chinese diaspora. He works primarily in the early modern, modern, and contemporary periods. He is the author of three books: The Naked Gaze: Reflection on Chinese Modernity, The Great Wall: A Cultural History, and Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation. He is the co-editor of five books: Writing Taiwan: A New Literary History (with David Der-wei Wang), Rethinking Chinese Popular Culture: Cannibalizations of the Canon (with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow), The Oxford Handbook of Chinese Cinemas (with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Chinese Literatures (with Andrea Bachner), and Ghost Protocol: Development and Displacement in Global China (with Ralph Litzinger). He is also the translator of five volumes of literary fiction, including Yu Hua’s Brothers (translated with Eileen Cheng-yin Chow, and shortlisted for the 2008 Man Asian Literary Prize), Yan Lianke’s Lenin’s Kisses, The Four Books, The Explosion Chronicles, and Marrow (of which The Four Books shortlisted for both the 2016 Man Booker International Prize and the 2016 FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Award), and Malaysian Chinese author Ng Kim Chew’s Slow Boat to China and Other Stories.

Lab Manager

Tim Smith

Tim Smith
Tim Smith

Tim serves as a Lab and Projects Manager for the Humanities Research Center. Tim moved to China with his wife Kathy Robertson in August 2017. He has a B.S. in Psychology with Honors from the University of Pittsburgh, with course tracks and honors projects in Computation in the Humanities, Indian History and Culture, Russian History and Culture, Theology, Counseling Psychology, Computer Science, Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience. He has participated in the development and management of several international and interdisciplinary student summer research programs at University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. He has managed research and commercialization projects including NIH (National Institute of Health), DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), ONR (Office of Naval Research). Tim has studied, lived or worked in 35 countries on 5 different continents. He has led education and outreach efforts in Haiti, Panama, Canada, Chile and Ecuador. In research and business, he has initiated and maintained international collaborations in Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, Australia, UK and Canada. He has led long term research installations and training workshops in Singapore, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Austria, Germany and Argentina. He is passionate about education, enriched learning environments and cross-cultural engagement. He has several active areas of research including software environments supporting lifelong, interdisciplinary, associative and integrative learning, augmented learning environments, travel and culture exploration. In addition to his work with the HRC he volunteers at DKU by developing and supporting cross-cultural initiatives and leadership training.

Advisory Board

Ttitas Chakraborty, PhD
Assistant Professor of History at Duke Kunshan University

Chris Chia, PhD (ex officio)
Associate Director of the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University

Michaeline Crichlow,  PhD
Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Duke University

Thomas J. Ferraro,  PhD
Frances Hill Fox Professor of English at Duke University

Ranjana Khanna, PhD (ex officio)
Professor of English, Women’s Studies, and the Literature Program at Duke University, and Director of the Franklin Humanities Institute

Selina Lai-Henderson, PhD
Assistant Professor of American Literature and History at Duke Kunshan University