Essays from Winners of the Freedom Lab Essay and Creative Writing Competition (Spring 2021)

Congratulations to all of the winners of the Essay and Creative Writing Competition (Spring 2021)!

To read their work, please click on each title.

Essay Writing
1. “The Queer Movement in Palestine” by Anisha Joshi
2. “#Hashtag Activism and its impact on the BLM Movement as a Counternarrative Tool” by Rachel Darius
3. “Modern Indian Economy and Inequality” by Yue Qiu

Creative Writing
1. “The Wok” by Hua Chai
2. “Jiatang” by Xiaomeng Yan
3. “My Skin” by Haley Williams

All the entries have gone through a rigorous review process. Thanks are due for Professor Stephanie Anderson and Professor Caio Yurgel who were the honorary judges for the creative writing category.

The Thursday Night Tea Research Group| LATINOAMÉRICA with Wei Ran

November 4, 7-8:15pm China Time

IB 1010 / Zoom ID 298 656 1787

In the second event of our translation series, Prof. Wei Ran will be exploring the “Latin American Thought Translation Series” as a case study for remapping the relations between China and the world. He will discuss the selection and translation of Latin American texts by the contemporary Chinese academic community, which followed a shift from the revolutionary paradigm of translation to the paradigm of modernization since the 1980s. The talk will be followed by a Q&A.

All are welcome to join!

Wei Ran is an Associate Professor of the Institute of Foreign Literature (IFL), Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). Ph.D. in the Institute for Comparative Literature and Culture at Peking University, he has published and translated widely on cross-cultural humanistic exchanges between China and Latin America, including translations of Walter Mignolo and Gabriel García Márquez, among others.

Nov. 5 Third Space Lab Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk: Joseph Davies

You are cordially invited to attend the TSL Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk by Joseph Davies on Developing Learning-focused Feedback Practices: An Evaluation of English for Academic Purposes Teacher Feedback Literacy at a Sino-Foreign University at 3:30 pm on Friday Nov. 5th, 2021 (China Standard Time).

This talk is hosted online. Join Zoom Meeting:

Please RSVP by 5 pm China Standard Time Thursday Nov. 4th.

Handout and recommended readings are available for interested audience:

Continue reading “Nov. 5 Third Space Lab Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk: Joseph Davies”

The Historicity of Crisis: Contingency and Continuity in Twentieth-Century Intellectual Histories

October 30-October 31, 2021

8-11pm CST/8-11am EST/2-5pm (UTC+2)

Zoom: 912 3984 7450

In this workshop, we invite scholars from the field of intellectual history to engage a global conversation on how historians in various areas in the world have narrated the crises in the twentieth century through the perspectives of both continuity and contingency. To borrow the concept “regime of historicity” from François Hartog, we, as globally concerned historians, attempt to examine the tensions between their “space of experience” and their “horizon of expectation” embedded in the writing about the collective fear in both Eastern and Western contexts. We do so through spatial, temporal, and identarian dimensions.

In specific, we are interested in making sense of how individual writers connect their local experience of fear and anxiety to the general, global conditions of crisis of the twentieth century, and vice-versa. To what extent is crisis individual, local, and/or global? Continue reading “The Historicity of Crisis: Contingency and Continuity in Twentieth-Century Intellectual Histories”

TSL Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk | Dr. Harper Staples Oct. 22

You are cordially invited to attend the TSL Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk by Dr. Harper Staples on Mapping and analyzing multilingual student identities in the European context: outcomes and implications for learner engagement and wellbeing at noon on Friday October 22, 2021 (China Standard Time).

Location: CC 1095. Zoom link will be sent to remote participants. Bring your own lunch and enjoy the talk! Snacks and bubble tea provided.

RSVP by 5 pm China Standard Time Thursday October 21 :

Continue reading “TSL Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk | Dr. Harper Staples Oct. 22”

The Thursday Night Tea Research Group | Graphic Narratives with Racha Chatta 

By Anisha Joshi

Class of 2022

Translation is a familiar experience for much of the community at DKU- many juggle at least two (if not more) languages daily in a multitude of contexts as we navigate communicating with an international community. So what a gift that this semester the Thursday Night Tea Research Group is returning to DKU with the theme Translation!

Rasha Chatta kicked off the series this month as the first guest speaker leading a discussion on the topic of Graphic Narratives. Chatta’s research interests at the moment include Arab migrant literature and graphic narrative, and she holds two fellowships at the moment- at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, and at the Merian Center for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb in Tunis. Continue reading “The Thursday Night Tea Research Group | Graphic Narratives with Racha Chatta “

TSL Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk | The Multi-Sensory Star Culture in the Late Qing and Early Republican Periods: A Case Study of the Snuff Bottles Featuring Tan Xinpei’s (1847–1971) Image

You are cordially invited to attend the first Brown Bag Lunch Research Talk in the fall semester by JI Wenting on The Multi-Sensory Star Culture in the Late Qing and Early Republican Periods: A Case Study of the Snuff Bottles Featuring Tan Xinpei’s (1847–1971) Image at noon on Friday September 17th, 2021 (China Standard Time).

Please RSVP by 5 pm China Standard Time Thursday September 16th :

Location: CC 1095. Zoom link will be sent to remote participants. Bring your own lunch and enjoy the talk! Snacks and bubble tea provided—please be sure to RSVP.


The TSL brown bag lunch research talk is open to all members of the DKU community and beyond who are interested in engaging in a conversation about research projects, either a published work or a work-in-progress, broadly related to languages, cultures and intercultural communication.

If you are interested in participating either as a speaker or as audience, please fill out this survey with your availability and the potential topic/work you’d be interested in discussing:

ÀI: AI: ĀI | CAC://DKU Research-Creation Fellowship 2021 Call for Applications

Apply [here]

Application Deadline: October 4th by noon Beijing time
— All applications are to be submitted in English
— Applicants must be currently based in China
— Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration
— Shortlisted candidates might be invited for an online interview (if necessary)
— Results by October 11; residency begins on October 18


In Spike Jonze’s Her a man falls in love with their artificial intelligence. In Kubrick’s Space Odyssey, Hal disobeys the human and seises control of the ship. Many would be shocked if today’s mainstream computer humanly refused to execute a command or expressed attraction to us. As we test the limits of today’s intelligent technologies however, there often comes a mild sense of disappointment at how shallow the supposedly natural behaviors turn out to be. Despite looming fears that omniscient machines would come, we can’t help but be upset they somewhat haven’t.

The predominantly corporate dilemma behind today’s AI is to create data-mining systems convincing enough to act like human without crossing the line of pretending to be one. On one hand, friendly and helpful algorithms are confined to strict and safe operational standards of unquestionably serving the human. On the other, people are lured into confessing to technology and producing personal data to be sold. Ok if greedy, not ok if creepy.

Turing’s Imitation Game imbibed by today’s AI makes concerns around machine intelligence rulling upon humans valid for as long as we continue to imagine intelligence as a quasi-theological man-in-the-image-of-god; AI-in-the-image-of-man doctrine. In other words, AI is only as interested in accumulating power and dominance as per its engineering reflecting the values of those who build it. Last but not least, from a purely technical perspective, today’s AI is but a cluster of probability theories which have little to do with how a human would define cognition. Perhaps it will take another collapse in AI research like the one in the 80s to fully admit the lack of intelligence in today’s artificial. In the meantime, how can we liberate current (not-so-)AI from having to pretend to understand humans, by exploring less goal-driven assemblages and less hierarchical relationships between machines and other entities, including but not limited to humans?

This open call invites China-based artists, designers, musicians, and related practitioners working with art and technology. With an emphasis on sound, installation, music and performance, we call for the release of today’s AI from its desperately meaningless anthropomorphic charade of emulating human desires. The ironically pointy consonance with love(爱; ÀI) and lamentation(哀;  ĀI) is to be discarded by letting AIs do their thing; crunch datasets, calculate, find patterns, communicate in their own way. Building on the phenomenological and ontological aspects of AI as discussed by the likes of Bernard Stiegler and Graham Harman, we welcome proposals that address artificial intelligence as emerging species with its own denominators. Let us attempt to re-engineer (in the broadest conceptual sense of the word) AI by acknowledging its unique set of techne inherently different from humans who create it.

The CAC://DKU Research-Creation Fellowship 2021 will take place during the autumn semester at Duke Kunshan University and Chronus Art Center from around 18th October to 18th December. Artists in any stage of their research and creation are encouraged to apply. The CAC://DKU Research-Creation Fellowship is in close collaboration with DKU’s Division of Arts and Humanities, Humanities Research Center, DKUNST Art at DKU, and CAC Lab at Chronus Art Center for new media art, Shanghai.


The fellow will be kindly required to:
  1. Reside on campus at Duke Kunshan University, engaging actively with students, faculty and the DKU community;
  2. Host a workshop and do a final presentation at DKU and CAC;
  3. Hold weekly sessions with CAC Lab updating on project’s progress
  4. Host an artist open studio at CAC and actively engage with local creative community
  5. Acknowledge the fellowship in any presentation and publications related to the work realized during or inspired by the fellowship period
  6. Use English as main communication language during the period of the fellowship
We will provide:
  1. Monthly stipend of 1,200 USD to contribute to living costs during the fellowship
  2. Coverage of production cost of the artwork (up to 3000 USD upon providing receipts)
  3. Return trip within China to and from Kunshan (economy class by airplane; up to first class on speed rail; and up to four taxi rides to and from the airport/train station)
  4. Accommodation on the Duke Kunshan University campus
  5. Access to CAC Lab’s facilities and tools (scroll down for the list of tools) in Shanghai, and commuting costs between DKU and CAC (up to four trips; additional travel would need to be covered by production costs)
  6. Mentoring by CAC Lab’s Head of Research
  7. Access to DKU media-lab’s facilities

The Thursday Night Tea Research Group | Graphic Narratives with Racha Chatta 

Thursday September 2, 7-8:15pm CST

Zoom ID 298 656 1787 (online only!)


In this talk—the first of a four-part series on the topic of translation, broadly understood—Rasha Chatta will guide us through the world of Arab graphic narratives, with a focus on its history, multilingualism, and close ties to a revolutionary moment: the need for a new (visual) language. All are welcome to join!

Rasha Chatta is a Research Fellow at EUME—Forum Transregionale Studien, Germany, and at the Merian Centre for Advanced Studies in the Maghreb (MECAM), Tunisia, where she is working on a book project on migration and war in Arab comics. She earned her PhD in Cultural, Literary, and Postcolonial Studies from SOAS, University of London, with a dissertation on contemporary Arab migrant literature.

August 2 MediHealth Podcast Live | Navigating the New Normal

COVID has impacted all of us beyond our expectations. Given Nanjing’s new COVID outbreak and the new Delta variant, how do we navigate through these difficult times? What is the likelihood of collectively achieving good health and well being for all citizens of the world?

Join the MediHealth Podcast team from Health Humanities Lab for a Live Panel Discussion on Monday August 2.

Topic: Navigating the New Normal

Guest speaker: Dr. Asif from NTU, Dr. Alvona, Glory Agun (Class ‘23) and Yiping Tian (Class ‘24)

Hosted by Sue Meng Chan, Greenshoot Communications

When: Aug 2, Monday, 21:00-21:30 China time or 9:00-9:30 EST

Where: Zoom 8014899181

RSVP for calendar request: