Humanities Research Center Current Research Projects

The Humanities Research Center proudly announces the current research projects being conducted by the HRC labs. We invite you stay in touch with updates on each of these projects by checking the news sections of our website and following our weekly newsletter.


Title: The Neganthropocene and Arts (Case studies in China)
Who: Prof. Jung Choi, Meixuan Wang, Yujia Zhai
Project summary: Inspired by the notion of Neganthropocene by a French Philosopher, Bernard Stiegler, the study explores innovative tactics by Chinese emerging artists that challenge the human-centered logic of understanding the world.

Title: DKU Augmented Reality (AR) Campus
Who: Prof. Xin Tong, Prof. Jung Choi, student researchers Qingyang He, Tony Ren, Weiran Li, and Ruiqi Chen
Project summary: In the research, we are creating an AR mobile app, DKU AR Campus, and investigating how augmented reality technology can support spatial digital co-creation and social interaction. We aim to understand multi-users’ social dynamics and examine their co-creation behaviors in an embodied AR context and derive design implications to shed light on future research. Continue reading “Humanities Research Center Current Research Projects”

Congratulations to Jesse Olsavsky on his new book “The Most Absolute Abolition Runaways: Vigilance Committees, and the Rise of Revolutionary Abolitionism, 1835–1861”

Jesse Olsavsky

Congratulations to Jesse Olsavsky, Assistant Professor of History and Co-Director of the Freedom Lab at the Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University!

His new book, The Most Absolute Abolition, “tells the dramatic story of how vigilance committees organized the Underground Railroad and revolutionized the abolitionist movement. These groups, based primarily in northeastern cities, defended Black neighborhoods from police and slave catchers. As the urban wing of the Underground Railroad, they helped as many as ten thousand refugees, building an elaborate network of like-minded sympathizers across boundaries of nation, gender, race, and class.

Continue reading “Congratulations to Jesse Olsavsky on his new book “The Most Absolute Abolition Runaways: Vigilance Committees, and the Rise of Revolutionary Abolitionism, 1835–1861””

Congratulations to Recipients of the 2022 Shirley Graham and W.E.B Du Bois Award!

Freedom Lab is thrilled to announce the following 9 recipients of the 2022 Shirley Graham and W.E.B. Du Bois Award. The Award (5000 rmb per recipient) will help with our DKU juniors on their Signature Work projects, including book purchasing, art installations, photo printing and exhibits, archival research, and field work.

Congratulations to all! Continue reading “Congratulations to Recipients of the 2022 Shirley Graham and W.E.B Du Bois Award!”

Freedom Lab: Call for Faculty Research Projects

The Freedom Lab is excited to announce that it will support two to four faculty-student research projects. All faculty members are welcome to apply.

Research projects should relate very broadly to the Lab’s theme of “freedom” and “unfreedom.” Please see the Freedom Lab Website for a sense of the kind of work the lab does All research projects must include student researchers, as the funding will be primarily allocated in the form of student research assistantships. Apart from maintaining their research agendas, Faculty and student RA’s must actively participate in the lab’s activities.

To apply, please send a one-page proposal briefly describing your project, the kind of research it requires, and the kind of work student RAs will do.

Proposals can be sent to Selina Lai Henderson ( and Jesse Olsavsky ( by Monday, April 25th.  

So far, the Freedom Lab has funded four faculty projects and eight student RA’s, leading to conference presentations, student Signature Work projects, and publications. We hope to continue this support of student and faculty research!

Freedom Lab Calls for Student Signature Work

Freedom Lab is excited to announce the W.E.B. and Shirley Graham Du Bois Award to DKU juniors whose Signature Work projects examine themes related to Freedom Lab. The Lab will fund up to ten projects, 5000rmb each, in order for students to explore their work in the spirit of WEB Du Bois and his wife, Shirley Graham Du Bois—two of the most consequential figures of US history who had left behind a legacy of human freedom and justice across the globe.

Students who pursue projects in relation to notions of freedom and unfreedom on any of the topics below are encouraged to apply: Continue reading “Freedom Lab Calls for Student Signature Work”

Translating Blackness―A Brief History of African American Literature in Post-WWII Japan

The recording is now available here:

Presented by HRC Freedom Lab

February 22, 2022 @ 10am Beijing Time
Join Zoom

Speaker: Michio Arimitsu (Keio University)


For the publishers, translators, and general readers of kokujin bungaku [black literature] in post-WWII Japan, African American struggle for freedom and autonomy and their resilient cultural production have served as a provocative mirror, a self-reflexive textual space through which they have explored the interrelated questions of race and national identity. This talk will examine the historical and cultural significance of the formation of the Association of Negro Studies [the A. N. S., now renamed as Japan Black Studies Association] in the Western port city of Kobe in 1954 and the compilation and publication of the 13-volume Kokujin bungaku zenshu [The Complete Anthology of Black Literature] in Tokyo from 1961 to 63.

Continue reading “Translating Blackness―A Brief History of African American Literature in Post-WWII Japan”

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.

Black or black?

This event has passed. You can now watch the recording here:

Presented by Freedom Lab

Friday, December 3rd
Time: 9PM (China Time)
Zoom: 261 330 4845

Speaker: Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw

Elizabeth Walcott-Hackshaw is a Professor of French Literature at The University of the West Indies (St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago). She is both an award-winning fiction writer as well as widely-known scholar of the French Caribbean. Her fiction books include such titles as Four Taxis Facing North (2007) and Mrs. B (2014). She has edited such books as Border Crossings: A Trilingual Anthology of Caribbean Women Writers (2011), Echoes of the Haitian Revolution (2008), and Reinterpreting the Haitian Revolution and Its Cultural Aftershocks (2006). In 2021, she published a biography of the poet Aime Cesaire.


Continue reading “Black or black?”

Africa for the Africans: A History of Self-Determination before Decolonization

This event has passed. You can watch the recording here:

Presented by Freedom Lab

Friday, November 26, 2021
Time: 7:30 PM
Location: CC1103
Zoom: 261 330 4845

Speaker: Prof. Adom Getachew

Adom Getachew is the Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago. She has published numerous academic articles on topics related to political sovereignty, the Haitian Revolution, Pan-Africanism, and postcolonial/anti-colonial thought. Her work has also appeared in such famous periodicals as Dissent, Boston Review, the Nation. Her most recent book is titled World Making After Empire: The Rise and Fall of Self-Determination (2019). A highly acclaimed rethinking of the Pan-African movement, the book won the W.E.B. Du Bois Distinguished Book Award from the National Council of Black Political Scientists as well as the Best Theory Book Award from the International Studies Association.

Freedom Lab Essay / Creative Writing Competition

To celebrate the end of an incredibly challenging, and nonetheless fruitful, academic year, the Freedom Lab is inviting DKU students to submit essays or creative writing pieces for consideration of various prizes with topics related to the themes of the Lab (more information about the lab and its research themes can be found here

Topics could range from the recent conversations on Covid-19/Black Lives Matter/Anti-Asian Hate, the legacies of slavery and imperialism, Afro-Asian engagements in the age of Cold War, feminist voices, the histories of women suffrage, labor and migration, environmental history and settler colonialism, to any other forms of inequality that have continued to inform and shape our human experience.

Students are invited to submit writing pieces of a maximum length of 5000 words to Chi Zhang ( by May 25. There will be two competition categories: essays and creative writing. Essays can take a variety of forms; they can be papers from classes or based on signature work projects. Creative writing pieces can be poems, personal reflections, short stories, or a mix of multiple forms.

Three essays and three creative writing pieces will be selected for a first prize of 500 RMB, a second prize of 450RMB, and a bronze prize of 400 RMB respectively.

Results will be announced by the end of May.