Student Report on “Unpacking Civil Warfare: The First Indochina War, 1945-1954”

Reported by Zhenan Xie, class of 2026

During the mini-term session, on March 11st, the DKU Humanities Research Center invited Professor Edward Miller as the guest speaker of an insightful discussion focusing on his research topic about the first Indochina war. The lecture invited and guided nearly 40 participants to examine the ignored facts of this war usually defined as decolonization or part of the Global Cold War, revealing its essence as a civil war instead. Prof. Miller also used this case to help participants learn about the conclusional features existed in civil warfare.

Prof. Miller first introduced and summarized a few commons often applicable to sovereignty in civil wars, featuring divisible, fragmented, and layered. It was also pointed out that the behavior of claiming legitimacy often played significant role shaping such circumstance of sovereignty in civil wars as multi-level conflicts, including Civil wars: multi-level conflicts consisting of conflicts between warring parties, warring parties and civilian populations, and within local populations and communities. Then Prof. Miller led participants to go through the life experience of Colonel Jean Leroy, founder of UMDC, who was born in and excluded by Ben Tre Province. The story of Leroy helped prove that these existed phenomenon of Vietnamese-led army under command of French imperial governance, proving Prof. Miller’s view about The First Indochina War as a civil warfare. By this lecture an insightful topic was proposed that different understandings might be applied to a same historical event or period, depending on the aspects focused on and interpretations implemented from different perspectives. While exploring and unveiling the untold stories behind common view can help historians and the public have a more complete cognition of history.

The second stage of Q&A session involved enthusiastic participation by both students and professors in attendance. Various questions about the class topic and suggestions regarding the research content were put forward and Prof. Miller answered each of them in detail with extensive supplement of presentation to help participants better understand this complex chapter of history.

We’d like to express our sincere appreciation to Prof. Miller’s impressive presentation and engagement by every participant in attendance. With the loosened COVID policy, this lecture would be an exciting start of continuous activities held in person coming up in 2024. This discussion and insights shared in it is believed to contribute to laying the foundation of a series of lectures. We look forward to holding more activities on humanities research and engaging more students and faculties in the future.

Unpacking Civil Warfare: The First Indochina War, 1945-1954

Join us for an eye-opening discussion with Edward Miller as he unveils the untold stories behind Vietnam’s turbulent history. Discover how the conflicts from the 1940s to the 1970s were more than just wars of decolonization or part of the Global Cold War—they were brutal civil wars. Explore the intriguing intersection of colonial violence and civil warfare in Bến Tre, Vietnam, and gain a deeper understanding of this complex chapter in history.

Event Details:

  • Date: March 11, Monday
  • Time: 5 – 6 pm
  • Venue:IB 1047

Abstract: The wars that convulsed Vietnam and the rest of Indochina from the 1940s to the 1970s have long been narrated either as wars of decolonization or as components of the Global Cold War.   Recently, however, some Vietnam Studies scholars have pointed out that these conflicts were also bloody civil wars in which Vietnamese and other Indochinese groups inflicted enormous violence on each other. What, exactly, does it mean to treat these complex conflicts as civil wars? In this talk, Edward Miller explores the intersection of colonial violence and civil warfare in one part of Vietnam: the province of Bến Tre in the Mekong Delta.

Don’t miss out on this enlightening event! Join us and broaden your perspective on Vietnam’s past.


Professor Stephanie R Anderson Unleashed a Thrilling New Poetry Chapbook titled “Bearings”

Congratulations to Prof. Stephanie Anderson on her recent publications!

Bearings contains epistolary poems written to proliferating addressees between 2016 and 2019, a period when everything seemed to be accelerating and timezone-syncopated. The poems consider bearings that are alternatively affective, geographic, physical, and more.

Stephanie Anderson is an Assistant Professor of Literature & Creative Writing at Duke Kunshan University. Her research focuses on twentieth-century poetry, small-press publishing, and cultures of circulation. She is the author of three books of poetry, most recently If You Love Error So Love Zero (Trembling Pillow Press), as well as several chapbooks. She is also the editor of a book of interviews, Women in Small Press Publishing (forthcoming from the University of New Mexico Press in Fall 2024), and co-editor of All This Thinking: The Correspondence of Bernadette Mayer & Clark Coolidge (University of New Mexico Press). Her essays, poems, and interviews have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Chicago Review, Fence Steaming, Gulf Coast, Post45, Women’s Studies, and elsewhere. You can read more of her work at

Valery Pereleshin and the Russian Poetry Circle in Wartime Shanghai

Date: Tuesday, February 27Time: From 3 to 4 pmVenue: CCT E4011Speaker: Katya Knyazeva (Novosibirsk, Russia), is a historian and a journalist focusing on urban form, heritage preservation, and the Russian diaspora in Shanghai. She is the author of Shanghai Old Town. Topography of a Phantom City (Suzhou Creek Press, 2015 and 2018), among other publications. She is a Research Fellow at the University of Eastern Piedmont, Italy.

Gender + Feminism

Join us for a faculty workshop on Gender + Feminism led by Prof. Lindsay Mahon Rathnam and Qian Zhu. Explore diverse gender topics and feminist theory. Open to all interested in contemporary discourse and social movements. See you there!

Time: Feb 27, 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Venue: Water Pavilion

Snacks & drinks will be served at the workshop.

Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference 2024 Information Session

The deadline for submitting abstracts for the Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference is March 22, 2024. To help students prepare their abstracts, Professor James Miller, co-director of the Humanities Research Center, will give a information session on Tuesday, March 19, from 8-9pm (Zoom 6952900771).

In the information session you will learn

  • advantages of participating in the conference
  • advantages of presenting a paper at the conference
  • the rules for which types of papers will be accepted and which will be rejected
  • how the selection process works
  • how to write a good title and a good abstract

All students who are considering participating in the conference are strongly encouraged to attend.

Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference, April 26-27, 2024

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, 2023. The conference will feature approximately 40 undergraduate research papers and 4 keynote addresses. Students who are selected for the conference will also attend an exclusive seminar with one of the keynote speakers.

Continue reading “Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference, April 26-27, 2024”

Superdeep #23: “Gender Orientation” (Nathan Hauthaler) | Feb 22, 8:04pm

6:04pm   |   LIB 2001


Join Superdeep for our first Workshop collaboration with DKU’s Gender Studies Initiative: Nathan Hauthaler will present on his research on “Gender Orientation”. Thu Feb 22, 6:04pm LIB 2001.

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.

Superdeep Nighthawks: The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Buñuel 1972) | Feb 22, 8:04pm

8:04pm   |   IB 1008

With New Year’s & Spring Festival relishes still fresh in your memories, join us this week for Luis Buñuel‘s very topical 1972 Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie; …& food & drink).  Thu Feb 29, 8:04pm IB 1008.


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.

Student Report on “The Disenchantment of Love: Dating in the Digital Age among College Students in Beijing”

Reported by Lia Smith, Class of 2026

This lecture and student workshop were 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 February 1st, 2024, this event brought together Professor Xiying Wang from Beijing Normal University and 29 event attendees for a lecture on how her new focus group data on dating culture in the digital age among college students in Beijing uncovers a new form of emerging culture and perspective on love and dating.

Following the development of communication technologies, digital media has become a mediator in all sorts of relationships, one of them being dating. This is evident in how young single people are making friends and finding dating partners through the digital world. However, through the standardization of communication technologies, perspectives on love and dating, relationship categorization, and the ways in which relationships start and end begin to take on different forms from our traditional understanding.

The May 4th movement symbolized new forms of modernity including love, freedom, democracy, and science. Professor Wang proceeds to explain how the growing process of intellectualization and rationalization has resulted in a belief that we are no longer ruled by mysterious, unpredictable forces. So, does technology make love a more concrete and predictable force? Does it disenchant love?

Professor Wang continues her lecture by introducing the data from her study, focusing on what words are used to address dating, ranging from traditional terms to playful, uncommitted phrases. These different ways of describe and address their dating situations show that college students have diversified dating experiences.

Some relationships start and end online, often referred to 恋爱永远在线 in Chinese. They use online chats to go on dates, they confess feelings and love online, and when the relationship is made official, they announce their dating partner on online platforms. Major milestones and relationship building all happen online. Additionally, when there are issues in these types of relationships, they seek help or quarrel in public online forums. Following the pattern, these relationships also break-up online as well. These individuals see every app as a potential dating app, since the internet is an unlimited space to get to know people.

These online relationships have massive benefits of anonymity, mobility, flexibility. However, there are those who argue that technology has added a false touch to dating. With online interactions, the interactions could be inauthentic. This is seen with heavy photoshop usage and online exchanges that are misinterpreted.

These changes in interactions and relationship developments have also altered the ideal of love. People seem to no longer believe in the idea of romantic love; instead, the emphasis is on communication, tolerance, mutual pursuit and growth.

After the lecture, the student workshop offered students who attended the lecture the opportunity to discuss their different perspectives and observations on Professor Wang’s new research with her. Students shared how the DKU community environment, with its mesh of both the international and domestic population, created a different dynamic and perspective of love that could potentially be relevant to her research. Additionally, Professor Wang and students talked about how money and status play into both on-online and in-person romantic relations, with an example being only daughters from the Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai areas. Finally, students shared some of the research projects and received feedback and suggestions from Professor Wang.