Superdeep #19: “Defying Displacement: The Case of Philadelphia Chinatown” (Caroline Aung) | Tue Oct 24, 5:30 & 6pm

5:30pm IB 1008 (IB Auditorium)
6:00 pm IB 2028 | Zoom 6979897969

The Superdeep Workshop returns on a chord of high notes: on Tue Oct 24, Caroline Aung of Philadelphia’s Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) will join us for a presentation and interactive workshop for “Defying Displacement: The Case of Philadelphia Chinatown“. The event is Superdeep first collaboration with DKU’s HRC Citizenship Lab and the Center for the Study of Contemporary China (CSCC) Meanings, Identities, & Communities Cluster.
As an auftakt to the event we will screen the Philly Chinatown documentary “Look Forward & Carry on the Past” (Dornfeld, Kodish, & Wei’s 2002; accessible here).

Screening: Tue Oct 24, 5:30pm IB 1008.
Workshop: Tue Oct 24, 6:00pm IB 2028.

Snacks & drinks at the screening & workshop.


The Workshop is Superdeep‘s venue for philosophical work-in-progress research & practice. For more info or to submit proposals for the Workshop, follow this link; for more info on Superdeep more generally, follow this one.

Superdeep is sponsored by DKU’s Humanities Research Center.

Superdeep Nighthawks: “La Panthère des neiges (The Velvet Queen; Amiguet & Munier 2021) | Thu Oct 19, 8pm c.t.)

IB 1008 (IB Auditorium)

Finals week is peak Nighthawks week! A special treat recommended by distinguished guests, join us for Marie Amiguet & Vincent Munier‘s 2021 La Panthère des neiges (aka The Velvet Queen). Thu, Oct 19, 8pm c.t., IB 1008 (Auditorium).

This screening Superdeep‘s first collaboration with DKU’s budding Animal Protection Academic Club, who will also have the floor at the event.


Superdeep Nighthawks meet on Thu eve (8pm till late). For more info, or to submit proposals for the Nighthawks, follow this link; for info on Superdeep more generally, follow this one.

Superdeep is sponsored by DKU’s Humanities Research Center.

Health Humanities Initiative September Report

The Health Humanities Initiative has started a weekly meeting series since this Fall, to get faculty and students from different backgrounds together to discuss how health issues interact with the human experience.

Sept 6, 2023: Ice-break and theme exploration

In the first meeting, students each gave a brief introduction about their major background and potential topics they would like to explore in HHL. It was quite exciting that we had students from different fields: global health, anthropology, history, religion & philosophy, and biology. Students proposed several topics they were interested in, including how death is perceived in history and religions, the development of hospice in China, bereavement education, as well as the anthropological perspective of health’s definition. Considering students’ overlapped interests in death, we decided to mainly focus on death-related topics. We started our activity with students’ facilitation each week with no limitation on the forms and discussion between students and professors in order to explore different topics for further investigation.

Sept 13, 2023: Documentary Screening: My Last Summer

In this session, facilitated by Dong Ding, a sophomore student from Global Health major, we watched the first episode of My Last Summer, a BBC documentary that recorded the fears and hopes of five individuals diagnosed with terminal illnesses, with less than a year to live. They are brought together to spend four unforgettable weekends and share their thoughts and emotions about pain, religious beliefs, and the afterlife.

In the discussion, we talked about how different people’s attitudes are when facing death. One student mentioned this documentary provided us with an opportunity to gain a dynamic, holistic view of the dying ones as normal people with hobbies, passions, and emotions instead of being generalized as a group that can only perceive pain and pity. We also discussed the difference between dying and death with dying being a lengthy process while death happens instantaneously. In addition, we mentioned the essentialness of support from the secondary group, namely “similar others” when an individual is approaching death. As their closest family members and friends may not fully understand their feelings, having someone in similar situations to share their thoughts with can be very helpful in improving their well-being, which can be a part of hospice care.

Sept 20, 2023: Documentary & Lecture Screening: Death in Tibetan Buddhism and Philosophy

In the first section of our third meeting, facilitated by Jiachen Wu, a sophomore student in religion & philosophy, we watched a documentary about the Tibetan Book of the Dead and a lecture about death in philosophy. The documentary features the process of a Buddhist master trying to guide the soul of a dead man to achieve nirvana. It displays how death is optimistically perceived as a chance to escape from the circle of reincarnation and become a Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism. We discussed how death as an inevitable and positive component in Buddhism can help people learn about and accept the death of themselves and their loved ones. We also talked about the definition of compassion in Buddhism. Additionally, we compared the rituals for dead people, such as cremation, in diverse religious beliefs.

In the second section, we watched a lecture about philosophical questions about body and soul taught by Prof. Shelly Kagan from Yale University. Descartes’s argument is that if one can imagine the soul as an independent figure, then the soul can be independent of one’s body. However, in the video, Prof. Kagan argues that based on the phenomenological differences and dependence, which is the imagination of the dependent soul out of the body, should not be a valid and complete support for the duality of body and soul. He applied the example of morning stars and evening stars to further demonstrate this issue. The morning star and the evening star could appear independently, and actually only independently, while they are the same single planet. Therefore, Prof. Kagan proclaims that he himself doesn’t believe in the existence of the soul, no mention the rebirth based on that. In our discussion, we talked about the relevance between Descartes’s theory and Tibetan Buddhism. We also mentioned Venus and Aphrodite, the Roman and Greek forms of the same deity, an example of one soul in two bodies as a possible counterpoint of Descartes’s theory.

Sept 27, 2023: Presentation and discussion: Health Ethical Principles and Hospice

Ethan Tung, a sophomore student in Global Health/Public Policy, facilitated the discussion session and shed light on several ethical principles specifically applied in the medical field and the principles in a broader context. For medical ethics, the four pillars are autonomy (self-decision), beneficence (trying to improve the overall well-being and achieve the best outcome), non-maleficence (doing no harm and ensuring the treatment/decisions align with the patient’s interest), and justice (fair and equitable distribution). A shared characteristic of them is patient-centered. In broader ethics, the three major principles are utilitarianism, deontology, and absolutism. Utilitarianism is a type of consequentialism that focuses solely on the outcome of the decision. Deontology, the study of duty, applies laws to define what is right and wrong, does and don’ts. Absolutism emphasizes things that are unconditionally wrong regardless of the context and the consequence of the action, which is similar to non-maleficence in medical ethics. Ethan used stealing food to feed one’s hungry family members as an example. From the utilitarianists’ perspective, it is morally right because it can help the food feed more people and achieve better outcomes. However, to deontologists and absolutists, it is wrong because stealing causes harm to other people and is an illegal action. In our discussion, we compared the principles in two fields. We also looked into the international codes ethics of hospice care and found the interaction between the two theories. Codes ethics, as a result of the materialization of the ethical principles, is a linkage between application and the fundamental theories.

Citizenship Lab Calls for Grant Applications for Faculty-Student Research Collaboration

The Citizenship Lab invites applications for funding from faculty, Class of 2024, and Class of 2025 students working on or developing Signature Work (SW) projects related to citizenship.

Citizenship Lab Faculty Grants

The Citizenship Lab, part of DKU’s Humanities Research Center, invites proposals from faculty working on projects related to citizenship (broadly construed). The Lab will provide funding of up to 10,000 RMB, and the call will remain open until the available funds are exhausted. Grants may be used to cover any research expenses so long as the project involves collaboration with student researchers. Projects leading to or involving Signature Work (SW) are encouraged but not mandatory. If required, the Lab can assist in identifying students interested in conducting SW in a related field.

Applications should include an abstract-length proposal (300-500 words), a brief statement explaining the anticipated role of the student(s) in the project, and a proposed budget. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please submit your application, or any queries, to by 15 November 2023.

Citizenship Lab Student Grants

The Citizenship Lab invites Class of 2024 and Class of 2025 students working on or developing Signature Work (SW) projects related to citizenship (broadly construed) to apply for funding of up to 5,000 RMB. Grants may be used to cover any research expenses including those relating to field-based and experiential learning activities. Proposals must indicate whether you have or are seeking a mentor.

Applications should include an abstract-length proposal (300-500 words). Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Finalists may be asked to provide additional information, including a proposed budget and budget justification. Please submit your application, or any queries, to by 15 November 2023.

Addendum: Potential Research Topics

The Citizenship Lab welcomes applications on projects relating to the following topics. (This is a non-exhaustive list of topics that the Lab will consider funding.)

  • Political participation or active citizenship
  • Historical formation of political communities
  • Extending rights beyond the human
  • Environmental justice and activism
  • Climate change and social justice
  • Indigenous social movements
  • Memory and responsibility for (in)justice
  • Including future generations in present citizenship practices
  • The future of citizenship
  • Democratic innovations
  • Digital civic participation and engagement
  • Citizenship in non-democratic regimes
  • Struggles for and over the rights
  • Gender, racial, or class inequality
  • AI, Big Data, and citizenship
  • Surveillance capitalism, privacy, and freedom
  • Democratizing transnational and/or global governance
  • Planetary or cosmopolitan notions of citizenship
  • Refugees, borders, and walls
  • Home and belonging
  • Global health and citizenship

Superdeep Nighthawks: “Free Solo” (Vasarhelyi & Chin 2018) | Thu Oct 12, 8pm

IB 1008 (IB Auditorium)

A week 7 screening of Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi & Jimmy Chin‘s 2018 Free Solo (& food & drink) is the Nighthawks‘ way of saying: hang in there… ✊  Thu, Oct 12, 8pm c.t., IB 1008 (Auditorium).


Superdeep Nighthawks meet on Thu eve (8pm till late).
2023 Session  1 theme: the Mind.

For more info or proposals for the Nighthawks follow this link, for Superdeep more generally this one.

Superdeep is sponsored by DKU’s Humanities Research Center.

Congratulations to Titas Chakraborty on her recent publications

Congratulations to Titas Chakraborty on her recent publications!


“Nederlandse slavernij in Zuid-Azië “(Dutch Slavery in South Asia) in Staat en Slavernij, eds, Rosemary Allen, Matthias van Rossum, Esther Captain, Urwin Vyent (Athenaeum, 2023) 

This chapter provides an overview of the nature and impact of slavery and slave trade as carried out by the Dutch East India company in South Asia. The chapter was part of a book commissioned by the Dutch Ministry by the Ministry of Interior and Kingdom Relations (BZK), as a direct result of a motion filed by Dutch parliamentary Don Ceder which asked the Dutch government to present the results of independent national research into the history of slavery and into “what took place at the time of slavery, on behalf of whom and how” before the end of 2023. The publication of the book accompanied the King of Netherlands’ public apology for the Dutch state’s involvement in slavery and slave trade.

“Slavery in the Indian Ocean World” in The Palgrave Handbook of Global Slavery, eds, Damian Pargas and Juliane Schiel (Palgrave MacMillan 2023)  

This chapter provides a comprehensive history of various forms of slavery in what came to be known in historical works as the Indian Ocean World, or a specific zone of multi-regional connections through maritime practices. It explores the dynamics of enslavement including the trade in slaves, the range of work that enslaved men and women performed, and the possibilities of social mobility for slaves and ex-slaves. In doing so, the chapter familiarizes readers with three major historiographical debates in the field, namely, who/what constituted the figure of a slave; the relationship between slavery in the Indian Ocean world and other forms of bondage such as the Atlantic slavery and indentured servitude; and the relationship between abolition and colonialism in the Indian Ocean world. 


Titas Chakraborty is Assistant Professor of History. Her work focusses on slavery, labor, migration and gender in South Asia and the Indian Ocean World.