Egyptian Christians under Sisi: Where Do They Go Now?*

By Hyun Jeong Ha

Assistant Professor of Sociology

The Lebanese film Where do we go now (2011) begins with a procession of dozens of women to a cemetery in a secluded village. The women in black slowly march as a group, each one beating their chest with their hands out of deep sorrow at losing their loved ones. Upon arrival at the cemetery they separate. The Muslim women on the right mourn as they kiss tombstones and the Christians on the left kiss the crosses laid on the graves. The sectarian clashes that killed mostly male villagers is now history, but their grief still remains.

The faces of the village women overlapped with Egyptian Christians grieving the deaths of Christian worshippers caught in a suicide bombing at the Botroseya church (St. Peter and St. Paul’s churches) in December 2016. The film featured clashes between the villagers, while in reality, Christians were attacked by armed militants. This pre-planned attack has become a more frequent type of sectarian violence in recent Egypt with ISIS’s gaining of international prominence in 2014. This bombing was particularly surprising to many Cairenes because attacks on church buildings were something they believed to only take place in other parts of the country – places like Upper Egypt or the city of Alexandria where more radicalized militants or Islamists are based. As one of my interview participants, who lost her old church friend from the aforementioned bombing, said, this event made Christians living in the center of the country more concerned about their safety. Continue reading “Egyptian Christians under Sisi: Where Do They Go Now?*”

Humanities Conference Keynote Report: Oron Catts on Neolife and the HumAnimal

By Anisha Joshi

Class of 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic upturned many plans, one of them being Duke Kunshan University’s second Humanities Research Conference, initially scheduled for the Spring of 2020. Rescheduled for the fall of 2020, the Hum/Animal themed Humanities Research Conference was finally held over the weekend of September 18th, 2020. Thanks to the affordances of modern technology and the power of the internet, the conference saw undergraduate students, faculty and scholars from China and around the world.

‘We often significantly overestimate the likelihood of favorable currencies like winning the lottery, and underestimate the likelihood of relatively unlikely occurrences like unexpected accidents and crises,’ Professor Carlos Rojas, co-director of the Humanities Research Center remarked in his opening speech for the conference, zooming in from North Carolina. And indeed, no one could have predicted the way the covid-19 pandemic has shaken the world. Professor Rojas remarked on how relevant the theme of the conference- Hum/animal- was, given how the covid-19 is a zoonotic virus. Continue reading “Humanities Conference Keynote Report: Oron Catts on Neolife and the HumAnimal”

Humanities Conference Keynote Report: Gabriel Rosenberg on a More-Than-Human History of Sexuality

By Anisha Joshi, 

Class of 2022

Why is there an implicit (and unquestioned) assumption that studying animals does not require you to study sexuality? In his keynote lecture chaired by Professor Vivienne Xu, Professor Gabriel Rosenberg unpacked this question by analyzing and adding to William Cronon’s seminal text in environmental history, ‘Nature’s Metropolis’. Continue reading “Humanities Conference Keynote Report: Gabriel Rosenberg on a More-Than-Human History of Sexuality”

Humanities Conference Keynote Report: Mylan Engel on Animal Ethics, Sustainability, and Commonsense

By Sinan Farooqui

Class of 2022

The second keynote lecture for the Duke Kunshan Humanities Fall Conference 2020: Hum/Animal, was led by Professor Mylan Engel, who is a Professor of Philosophy at Northern Illinois University, specializing in epistemology and ethics, with an emphasis on animal ethics, environmental ethics, and global justice. Accordingly, he spoke on the topic of Animal Ethics, Sustainability, and Commonsense: Doing Right by Animals and by Ourselves. Continue reading “Humanities Conference Keynote Report: Mylan Engel on Animal Ethics, Sustainability, and Commonsense”

CAC:// DKU 2020 Research/Creation Fellowship Winner Announcement

Humanities Research Center is pleased to announce that the CAC://DKU 2020 Research / Creation Fellowship (USD$10,000) has been awarded to the artist GUO Cheng for his project proposal Wind Verification. Guo will start the 3-month residency program at Chronus Art Center (CAC) and Duke Kunshan University.

Jury Statement

The first collaborative initiative between CAC_Lab and Duke Kunshan University’s Humanities Research Center, the Fellowship aims to support and advance research-based artistic practice, with a particular emphasis on practitioners who employ or interrogate technology in the conception and production of their work. The selection was based on the strength of the proposed project, the proposal’s relevance to this session’s topic (“World Wide What”), and its feasibility.

GUO Cheng is set to dispute the relationship between the common perception of social media as altered, selective representation of reality, and art as means for collective “peer-review” of the unverified viral, in an attempt to provide alternative visions to what post COVID-19 “World Wide What” could become. Wind Verification draws on the practices of the likes of Giuseppe Penone and Forensic Architecture in an attempt to further legitimize creative practices not only as means for critical inquiry but as potential tools to bring about change.

Wind Verification is conceptually powerful and technologically ambitious. The project’s technical framework ranges from the computer vision algorithm analysing crowd-sourced footage scraped from mainly East Asian social media, to a physical installation setting that will use fans to recreate ‘verified wind’ realities. GUO Cheng aims to draw new potential functional purposes for social media and elaborate on a range of tools required for such advances to be achievable. Continue reading “CAC:// DKU 2020 Research/Creation Fellowship Winner Announcement”



此次人文学研究大会9月18日下午拉开序幕。人文艺术与自然动物的连结或许在自然之初早已谱写完毕,生命之树从远古的有机体中发芽、生枝、蔓延,人类是其中微小的分叉,但与一切存在过的生命互通,就像Carlos Rojas教授在开幕式上所提到的“成为人类究竟意味着什么,人在某种程度上有变成动物的能力”。世界的概念、人类的起源,科学技术的发展一直在指引我们探寻着人类存在的根本。大会中令我印象最深刻的是在IB1056教室开展的小组讨论会,Oran Catts教授将人文艺术与生命联结,用生命组织书写故事,“当生物学成为工程上的追求,生命成为原材料。在未来我们将见证可以自我组装,自我修复并执行不同功能的智能材料。它们中的部分会脱离我们的管束,蜕变为杂草或是害虫。这就是新型生态学的世界。”当生物变为新材料、构建工程,semi-living(半活状态)裹挟着神秘与新奇冲撞着人类对生命控制的欲望。但人类并不能自私地认为自己站立于食物链的顶端,企图掌握一切自然生灵的命运舵轮。Oran Catts教授用独特而永恒的艺术方式引导人们关注人与自然的关系,这种关系不是控制,而是和谐尊重。用生命创造艺术,并用艺术来强调生命的力量。我们需要去理解生命,而非控制生命。



郭一柯(2024):在听演讲之前,我认为所谓生命仅仅是动物植物微生物,然而这次演讲让我开始重新思考生命的定义:我们究竟应不应该像对待生命一样对待extended body(广延物体),以及如何处理生命与非生命的关系。作为biology art(生物艺术)的“鼻祖”,Catts教授对于extended body有着非凡的见解。在讨论中,他非常耐心地倾听我们的提问,并且给予详细的回答。Catts的讲座为我打开了一扇通向biology art的大门, 通过艺术来展现生物的魅力,也是一种精神的愉悦与享受。


Continue reading “2020秋季学期人文学研究大会小结”

Humanities Research Projects are Recruiting!

Register your interest  by Monday, 26 October, 0800 China time​ for priority consideration

Learn how you can participate in research programs led by the Humanities Research Center. These include our Kunshan Digital Humanities program, our Planetary Ethics and Artificial Intelligence Lab, and other labs and activities. The Humanities Research Center is open to students in all disciplines across the university. Students will gain valuable research experience, work closely with faculty mentors, and can receive funding to carry out projects related to their signature works.

Third Space Lab at SIETAR USA 2020 Conference

Recently, the three co-directors of the Third Space Lab presented at SIETAR USA to discuss the adaptations of their lab (its research agenda, workshops, training of research assistants, etc.) to the online context, in a session entitled Fostering Perspective Transformation in Third Spaces in Virtual Settings.

International education took an undeniable hit with Covid-19 and its consequences on mobility. While many institutions contemplate the possibility of offering in-person courses, others are reflecting on hybrid models or fully online programs to welcome their students this fall. A consequence of the situation is that pre-departure programs for study abroad sojourns and orientation for international freshmen, when not simply canceled, saw themselves reduced to the bare minimum. Rooted in the interventionist paradigm, which challenges the “immersion myth” that simply being abroad leads to positive intercultural growth and other deep changes, this Ned Talk addresses the virtual adaptations to interventions developed by a humanities research lab, the Third Space Lab(TSL) at a Sino-American higher education institution.

In light of uncertainty regarding study abroad semester for Chinese and international juniors to go to the US, as well as the arrival of incoming freshmen on campus in China, the Third Space Lab moved online to optimize students’ intercultural experiences by offering a series of online workshops, a series of online guest lectures, cultural events, and other resources for various cohorts of students. The virtual workshops address a series of topics including (1) learning about the host culture by creating their own research projects abroad, (2) learning how to reflect, (3) learning strategies for meaningful intercultural encounters, and (4) learning strategies for managing conflict experienced in their intercultural encounters. Guest lectures and cultural events showcase translingual and multicultural Third Spaces stories and encourage students to reflect on their own international education experience in cultural hybridity.

Showcasing TSL’s various virtual events, this Ned Talk addressed the conceptual and practical applications of Transformative Learning via intercultural sensitivity and Third Space personae development principles, as well as via conflict resolution.

For more information about these adaptations, you can watch the recording here:

The Memory Project Screening Series

Screenings of:


By Hao Yongbo

Water Pavilion(湖心亭), 2020/10/13, 8PM


By Zhang Mengqi

Water Pavilion(湖心亭), 2020/10/14, 8PM

Main Event:


Water Pavilion(湖心亭), 2020/10/15, 8:30PM

Background – The Memory Project 

Chinese Documentary filmmaker Wu Wenguang launched The Memory Project in 2010 to collect oral histories from survivors of the Great Famine (1958-1961) in rural China. Since 2010, several young filmmakers have joined the project. They have been to 246 villages in 20 provinces and interviewed more than 1,220 elderly villagers. The Memory Project aims to shine light on one of modern China’s most traumatic episodes, the Great Famine of 1958-1961. The project also covers Great Leap Forward of 1958-1960, Land Reform and Collectivization of 1949-1953, the Four Cleanups Movement in 1964 and the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. The amateur filmmakers from Wu’s studio discovered their family histories and identities in the process of interviewing the villagers, reconciling the official history taught in schools with each family’s experience.

Special Forum on Freedom Voices and Struggles Across the Globe

On September 19th, at the Humanities Fall Conference, the Freedom Lab hosted a forum on “Freedom Voices and Struggles Across the Globe.” The forum consisted of presentations and discussions by faculty and student research assistants on their current research projects sponsored by the Freedom Lab. Professor Qian Zhu, along with student researchers Qingyi Yin and Xueyi Liu, presented their ongoing research on the New Village Movement and New Life Movement in Republican China. Professor Jesse Olsavsky as well as Yue Qiu and Henry Stevens presented their work transcribing and editing abolitionist histories of the Haitian Revolution. Professor Bryce Beemer described his new research on the modern history of Burmese temple slaves. Professor Selina Lai Henderson concluded by discussing her work on the Chinese translation of W.E.B. Dubois’s foundational text, The Souls of Black Folk. The Freedom Lab looks forward to the student projects and publications that will emerge from the new research presented at this forum.