Student Report on “Buried in the Red Dirt: Race, Reproduction, and Death in Modern Palestine”

Reported by Lia Smith, Class of 2026

This lecture and workshop was a part of the Gender Studies Initiative’s event series. Each event connects gender to a range of topics where gender, sexuality, and feminism are discussed.

On March 29th, 2024 this event brought Professor Frances Hasso from the program in gender, sexuality and feminism at Duke University and 14 event attendees for a discussion of Professor Hasso’s most recent book, Buried in the Red Dirt. This book brings together a myriad of sources to tell a story of life, death, and reproduction, and missing bodies and experiences, during and since the British colonial period in Palestine. The discussion was based upon chapter 3, which focused upon the eugenic practices of both the British and Zionist colonizers of Palestine.

British colonial authorities blamed Palestinians for poverty, hunger, and disease, conveniently sidestepping the harsh realities of colonial extraction. This perspective, deeply rooted in gendered and racialized dynamics, perpetuated inequities in healthcare provision for Palestinians.

Central to the discourse was the exploration of demographic anxieties and eugenicist ideologies that tainted British and Zionist approaches to birth control in Palestine. Despite legal constraints, contraception and abortion emerged as vital methods of birth control for women across all communities, challenging simplistic explanations based solely on religion or culture.

The event unveiled the fallacy of portraying Palestinians as hyper-reproductive, offering a nuanced understanding of their reproductive desires and practices. Contrary to popular belief, Palestinian demographic competition with Jews has been largely irrelevant since 1948, with Palestinian fertility rates shaped by multifaceted factors beyond Zionist anxieties of demographic competition.

DKU faculty and students raises numerous questions throughout the discussions. Many questions tackled methodology, in particular Professor Hasso’s creative use of both archival sources and oral testimonies. Other questions pertained to the modalities of colonial rule, from the level of collaboration/conflict between British and Zionist colonizers, to the ways religious and racial differences were simultaneously deployed by the British to govern Palestine. Finally, questions concerning the contemporary situation in Gaza were raised, such as the differing positions towards the war amongst various Middle East and North African States, to the effect of the war in Gaza on US domestic politics.

Superdeep Nighthawks: Lost in Translation (Coppola 2003)

8:04pm  |  IB 1008

Even if by now you’ve gone way Superdeep & already mastered all the languages spoken at DKU, join the Nighthawks & Sofia Coppola to get Lost in Translation (…& food & drink). Thu Apr 11  |  8:04pm  |  IB 1008.


Superdeep Nighthawks meet on Thu eve (~8pm till late); more info here. To propose a screening, follow this link; for more info on Superdeep generally, follow this one.

Superdeep is sponsored by DKU’s Humanities Research Center.

The 2nd Gender Studies Initiative Student Conference Program

Date: Friday, April 19th, 9 AM – 3 PM

Venue: AB 2107

9-9:15 AM: Keynote Speech by Professor Selina Lai Henderson

Session 1 – Challenges to Heteronormativity

9:15-10:15 AM Presentations and faculty discussions

10:15-10:45 Q&A

Heteronormativity in Korean Boys Love Comics: A Case Study of Chinese Queer Women’s Gender Discourse – Shuzhe Wang

Faculty discussant: Keping Wu (Zoom)

Masters tools: Oppression, Representation, Stereotype, and Heteronormativity – Sadey Dong

Faculty discussant: Hwa Yeong Wang

A Queer Metamorphosis: Animal Narratives and Lesbian Love in Contemporary Chinese Cultures – Ruohan Wang

Faculty discussant: Nathan Hauthaler

Session 2 – Gendered Economy and Environmental Challenges

10:50-11:50 AM: Presentations and faculty discussions

11:50-12:20 PM: Q&A

The ‘Invisible’ Female Riders in Food Delivery: Exploring the Impact of Platform Algorithms on Female Workers in the Gig Economy – Hanyang Zhou and Yixin Gu

Faculty discussant: Megan Rogers

Gender, Health, and Catastrophe: The Impact of Patriarchal Gender Dynamics on Tribal Women’s Health Outcomes amidst Pakistan’s 2022 ‘Superfloods’ – Arabela Iggesen Valenzuela

Faculty discussant: Hyun Jeong Ha

Gendered Dimensions of Climate Change: A Critical Analysis of Women’s Vulnerability and Representation in Global Environmental Governance – Manal Bidar

Faculty discussant: Jaehee Choi

12:20-13:30 PM: Lunch

Session 3 – Feminist Critiques to Culture and Society

1:30 – 2:30 PM: Presentations and faculty discussions

2:30 – 3 PM: Q&A

A Feminist Triumph or Flop?: Exploring Public Perceptions of Barbie- Yihan Chen, Ni Zheng, and Hsuan-kai Liao

Faculty discussant: Lindsay Mahon Rathnam

The Ornamental Personhood: A Reparative Reading of K-Pop Femininity – Vicky Yongkun Wu

Faculty discussant: Titas Chakraborty

Navigating Ideologies Rifts in the Digital Age: Understanding Relationship Dynamics Amidst Gender Discourse Polarization in China – Wenjing Xu

Faculty discussant: Qian Zhu

Climate Emergency and the Future of Democracy

Date: Monday, April 15th

Time: 5:00PM CST

Location: Zoom – 922 1935 5842 

On Monday, April 15th, Professor Robyn Eckersley will have a seminar on Climate Emergency and the Future of Democracy. This seminar tracks the rise of climate emergency claim making as a global discourse, and takes stock of the criticisms from those who argue that the emergency frame should be abandoned because it will necessarily undermine democracy. Against these critics, Professor Eckersley offers an alternative and more sympathetic democratic critique of the grammar of climate emergency claim making, and then poses and critically explores two questions that have been ignored by the critics: what might happen to liberal democracy if the climate emergency movement fails in its demands upon the state? Could the climate emergency movement be a potential saviour of democracy because it seeks to build legitimacy for measures that would safeguard the fundamental socio-ecological conditions for the survival of democratic states?

Robyn Eckersley is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor in Political Science in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne, and a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. She has published widely in the fields of environmental political theory and International Relations, with a particular focus on ecological democracy, the greening of states, and the ethics, politics and governance of climate change. She received a Distinguished Scholar Award (Environmental Studies Section) at the International Studies Association Annual Convention in Toronto 2019.



Register for the 2024 Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference

The Humanities Research Center is pleased to announce its annual Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference, Superdeep, which will be held in person at Duke Kunshan University from April 26-27, 2024. The conference will feature approximately 40 undergraduate research papers and 4 keynote addresses. Students who register for the conference may attend an exclusive seminar with one of the keynote speakers, as well as a gala dinner with all the presenters.

Register to attend the conference here by April 19

View the draft program here

Keynote Speakers

Roger T. Ames 安樂哲 is Humanities Chair Professor at Peking University, Senior Academic Advisor of the Peking University Berggruen Research Center, and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Hawai’i. He is former editor of Philosophy East & West and founding editor of China Review International. Ames has authored several interpretative studies of Chinese philosophy and culture, and his publications also include translations of the Chinese philosophical classics. His most recent monograph is Human Becomings: Theorizing ‘Persons’ for Confucian Role Ethics (2021). He has most recently compiled the new Sourcebook in Classical Confucian Philosophy with its companion A Conceptual Lexicon for Classical Confucian Philosophy, and is committed to writing articles promoting a conversation between pragmatism and Confucian philosophy.

Ru YE is an associate professor at Wuhan University. She works on epistemology, more specifically, epistemic permissivism, higher-order evidence, and pragmatic encroachment. She is also interested in formal epistemology and the intersection between ethics and epistemology.  She received her PhD from Cornell University in 2016, and before that, she did undergraduate work at Wuhan University. 

Seth Jaffe is Associate Professor (Research) of the History of Political Thought at Luiss Guido Carli University, Rome (LUISS). His PhD is from the University of Toronto, his MSc from the LSE, and his BA from Bowdoin. He has worked on U.S. foreign policy, been a postdoc at FU Berlin, and is a regular Senior Associate of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. He has research interests in Greek and Roman political philosophy, the history of international political thought, and how classical frameworks can enrich contemporary debates. His first book, Thucydides on the Outbreak of War, was published in 2017 by Oxford UP, and he is working on a book on Polybius. He recently co-edited (with Guillermo Graíño Ferrer) a double special issue of The Review of Politics on populism in the history of political thought.

Hao TANG is Professor of Philosophy at Tsinghua University. He received his MA and PhD from the University of Pittsburgh after graduating with a BSc in Material Science from Fudan University. He is interested in Wittgenstein, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of action.

Student Report on “Chinese Female-Only Script: Unveiling the Stories and Influence of 女书 (Nvshu)”

Reported by Yixin Gu, Class of 2027

The event was jointly sponsored by the HRC Gender Studies Initiative and the CSCC Meanings, Identities and Communities Cluster.

On March 20, 2024, guest speaker Xiuyuan You was invited to the campus to conduct a lecture and workshop on the Chinese national intangible cultural heritage– Nvshu. Ms. You is the Jiangsu Nvshu Cultural Ambassador, Dean of Wuxi Nvshu Academy, and Associate Researcher of the Chinese Nvshu Research Center at Wuhan University.

Continue reading “Student Report on “Chinese Female-Only Script: Unveiling the Stories and Influence of 女书 (Nvshu)””

Superdeep Nighthawks: Synecdoche, New York (Kaufman 2008) | Fri Apr 5, 8:04pm

8:04pm   |   IB 1008

Join the Nighthawks for a Superdeep blurring of all the lines & breaking of all the walls of real life & real death & real stages & real warehouses of Charlie Kaufman‘s 2008 Synecdoche, New York (…& food & drinks). Fri Apr 5, 8:04pm  IB 1008. (Note that, observing Tomb Sweeping Day, this week the Nighthawks converge on Friday, not Thursday.)


Superdeep Nighthawks meet on Thu eve (~8pm till late); more info here. To propose events or screenings, follow this link; for info on Superdeep generally, follow this one.

Superdeep is sponsored by DKU’s Humanities Research Center.

Superdeep #25: “On Polyamory and its Viability” (Yixuan Cao) | Fri Apr 5, 6:04pm

6:04pm | IB 2026 | Zoom 6979897969

What’s not to love about our next Superdeep Workshop by Yixuan CaoOn Polyamory and its Viability” — Friday 6:04pm IB2026. (Note that, to observe Tomb Sweeping Day, we are meeting Friday this week, not Thursday.)

Snacks & drinks will be served at the 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.