Student Report on Citizenship Lab Research Symposium

Reported by Cody Schmidt, class of 2025

This symposium was hosted by HRC’s Citizenship Lab. The Lab provides funding and resources to various research projects exploring manifestations and expressions of citizenship throughout the world.

The Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab hosted a research symposium on November 24th, providing students and faculty an opportunity to present and solicit feedback on their work. Multiple disciplines were represented across the three convened panels, each of which involved Q&A sessions to foster dialogue among participants and audience members.

The Citizenship Lab’s co-directors, Professor Quinlan Bowman and Professor Robin Rodd, began the symposium by providing opening remarks regarding the Citizenship Lab’s mission, including understanding the citizen’s role in mobilization for resistance and activism.

The first panel of the symposium, “Equality, Belonging, and Solidarity,” was moderated by Professor Rodd. Professor Hyun Jeong Ha began the panel with her research into a South Korean religious group, the Shincheonji. Her research to date has featured interviews with 20 Koreans to analyze their experiences with the group and explore how their identification with this religious movement shapes their sense of belonging in Korean society. The second presenter for this session was a senior student, Jiyuan Sun. He provided an overview of his signature work project on autonomy-based conceptions of democratic equality.

Jiyuan reflected on his experience, saying, “I feel glad to have the opportunity to present my signature work at the point where a full draft is coming into shape, and to jump out of philosophy’s ‘armchair’ and engage with faculty members and students approaching citizenship topics from diverse disciplinary vantage points.”

“Nature, Culture, and Citizenship” was the overarching theme of the second panel. Assistant Professor of Behavioral Science Claudia Nisa served as the moderator, and also presented her work on the use of reclassification of farm animals as domestic pets and the subsequent effect it has on individuals. Julián Bilmes from Universidad Nacional de La Plata/Fudan Development Institute examined the Chinese-Argentinian relations in the area of natural resource governance. An iMEP student Lingyu He closed the session, presenting fieldwork she undertook in Tibet concerning religious artifacts and their commodification in modern consumer markets.

The final session was entitled “Power and Social Movements.” Professor Coraline Goron moderated and presented first on the panel. Her fieldwork explored citizen science projects in China and how they play a role in expanding citizen capacities in the country. Tanya Torchylo, a senior student, followed. She presented her insights into the way in which Information and Communication Technology facilitated the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine in 2014.

“The symposium provided a fantastic opportunity for me to contemplate the progress of my signature work. Given that my research is ongoing, this reflection allowed me to organize the theories I’ve already explored, pinpoint weaknesses, and develop a clearer vision of how I want to shape my key argument,” Tanya said of the symposium.

Fellow undergraduates, Cody Schmidt and Lucas Chacko, presented next. Like Tanya, they focused on their signature work projects. They explained the meaning of “degrowth” and its connections to current political movements in Colombia. A PhD student at James Cook University, Helena Lopez Anderson, closed the symposium. She led the audience through a digital tour of Perth, Australia, describing how architecture throughout the city reflects the different stories and perspectives of citizenship for white and Indigenous groups.

Superdeep #19: “Defying Displacement: The Case of Philadelphia Chinatown” (Caroline Aung) | Tue Oct 24, 5:30 & 6pm

5:30pm IB 1008 (IB Auditorium)
6:00 pm IB 2028 | Zoom 6979897969

The Superdeep Workshop returns on a chord of high notes: on Tue Oct 24, Caroline Aung of Philadelphia’s Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) will join us for a presentation and interactive workshop for “Defying Displacement: The Case of Philadelphia Chinatown“. The event is Superdeep first collaboration with DKU’s HRC Citizenship Lab and the Center for the Study of Contemporary China (CSCC) Meanings, Identities, & Communities Cluster.
As an auftakt to the event we will screen the Philly Chinatown documentary “Look Forward & Carry on the Past” (Dornfeld, Kodish, & Wei’s 2002; accessible here).

Screening: Tue Oct 24, 5:30pm IB 1008.
Workshop: Tue Oct 24, 6:00pm IB 2028.

Snacks & drinks at the screening & 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.

Citizenship Lab Calls for Grant Applications for Faculty-Student Research Collaboration

The Citizenship Lab invites applications for funding from faculty, Class of 2024, and Class of 2025 students working on or developing Signature Work (SW) projects related to citizenship.

Citizenship Lab Faculty Grants

The Citizenship Lab, part of DKU’s Humanities Research Center, invites proposals from faculty working on projects related to citizenship (broadly construed). The Lab will provide funding of up to 10,000 RMB, and the call will remain open until the available funds are exhausted. Grants may be used to cover any research expenses so long as the project involves collaboration with student researchers. Projects leading to or involving Signature Work (SW) are encouraged but not mandatory. If required, the Lab can assist in identifying students interested in conducting SW in a related field.

Applications should include an abstract-length proposal (300-500 words), a brief statement explaining the anticipated role of the student(s) in the project, and a proposed budget. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please submit your application, or any queries, to by 15 November 2023.

Citizenship Lab Student Grants

The Citizenship Lab invites Class of 2024 and Class of 2025 students working on or developing Signature Work (SW) projects related to citizenship (broadly construed) to apply for funding of up to 5,000 RMB. Grants may be used to cover any research expenses including those relating to field-based and experiential learning activities. Proposals must indicate whether you have or are seeking a mentor.

Applications should include an abstract-length proposal (300-500 words). Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Finalists may be asked to provide additional information, including a proposed budget and budget justification. Please submit your application, or any queries, to by 15 November 2023.

Addendum: Potential Research Topics

The Citizenship Lab welcomes applications on projects relating to the following topics. (This is a non-exhaustive list of topics that the Lab will consider funding.)

  • Political participation or active citizenship
  • Historical formation of political communities
  • Extending rights beyond the human
  • Environmental justice and activism
  • Climate change and social justice
  • Indigenous social movements
  • Memory and responsibility for (in)justice
  • Including future generations in present citizenship practices
  • The future of citizenship
  • Democratic innovations
  • Digital civic participation and engagement
  • Citizenship in non-democratic regimes
  • Struggles for and over the rights
  • Gender, racial, or class inequality
  • AI, Big Data, and citizenship
  • Surveillance capitalism, privacy, and freedom
  • Democratizing transnational and/or global governance
  • Planetary or cosmopolitan notions of citizenship
  • Refugees, borders, and walls
  • Home and belonging
  • Global health and citizenship

Citizenship Lab Presents: “The Pandemic Within: Policy Making for a Better World”

Date/Time: March 28th, 5:30pm
Zoom ID: 954 6231 1016
Guest Speaker: Hendrik Wagenaar and Barbara Prainsack

Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has starkly revealed the fault lines in the current, neoliberal political-economic order. While we are obviously not the ones to have noticed this, our take on the problem differs in a number of important ways from the usual political economy analyses. The aim of the book is to provide an evidence-based, practically feasible, vision of a more sustainable and more just political economic order. We use utopian imagination as a systematic method (Levitas 2013). Specifically, the purpose of the book is twofold: 1) to provide the ideas and vocabulary for a different narrative of a better society, and 2) to suggest concrete solutions, each one of them grounded in practical experience and/or scientific evidence.

Student Report on The Climate Emergency and Tuvalu’s Escape to the Metaverse: Challenging the Complicity of Design in Technological Solutionism

Cody Schmidt, class of 2025 

This event was hosted by HRC’s Citizenship Lab. The Citizenship Lab seeks to understand the transformation of citizenship and the ways in which citizenship is expressed through ecological, temporal, and spatial terms. The full event can be viewed here.

Dr. Nick Kelly and Professor Marcus Foth from the Queensland University of Technology joined Professor Robin Rodd from Duke Kunshan’s Citizenship Lab on March 9th to discuss the role of the metaverse in the politics of climate change. Based on their article published in The Conversation, the two began by explaining Tuvalu’s attempt to save their nation that has turned towards metaverse technologies.  Continue reading “Student Report on The Climate Emergency and Tuvalu’s Escape to the Metaverse: Challenging the Complicity of Design in Technological Solutionism”

Citizenship Lab Presents: On (Self-Destructive) Resistance

Date/Time: Fri, Mar 17, 4pm China time
Zoom ID: 989 6560 8865
Guest Speaker: Prof. Candice Delmas

Abstract: Acts of self-destructive resistance, such as self-neglect, self-immolation, hunger strike, and lip-sewing, which involve self-directed violence, have not caught philosophers’ attention. This neglect makes sense given the methodological assumptions that underwrite philosophers’ approach to resistance, including the tools they use, the goals they set out for their investigation, and what they view as paradigms of resistance. I identify five such methodological assumptions and show that they do not only constitute an obstacle to theorizing self-destructive resistance, but also distort understanding of the very phenomena that philosophers intend to capture, including civil disobedience and violent and non-violent resistance.

Biography: Candice Delmas is an associate professor of philosophy and political science at Northeastern University in Boston, MA, specializing in social, legal, moral, and political philosophy. In 2022-2023, she is a Fellow-in-Residence at the Collegium de Lyon (a French Institute for Advanced Study).

Citizenship Lab Research Project: “Relational Egalitarianism and Economic Liberty”

The Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab proudly funds Jiyuan (Dmitry) Sun’s Signature Work project

Student: Jiyuan (Dmitry) Sun, Class of 2024, Ethics and Leadership/Philosophy

Mentor: Joseph Mazor, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics

This project centers on two concepts in contemporary political philosophy: relational egalitarianism and economic liberty. It will investigate the place of economic liberty within the theoretical framework of relational egalitarianism. By revealing the incompatibility between existing conceptions of economic liberty and relational egalitarianism, it strives to reconcile the two concepts by redefining economic liberty. It will ideally reach the conclusion that economic liberty is not only compatible with relational egalitarianism but an essential constituent of the latter. It takes a pragmatic concern with carving out an institutional design in which people are both economically free and equal in socio-political relations under democratic citizenship, and a further theoretical concern with the fluid interactions between freedom and equality.

This project is expected to start during summer 2023 and conclude during spring 2024. Its research process will involve (i) literature reviews of Elizabeth Anderson’s (1999) conception of relational egalitarianism, including Value in Ethics and Economics (1995) and “What is the Point of Equality?” (1999); (ii) comparative studies of multiple existing theories of economic liberty; (iii) independent argumentation on the relationship between relational egalitarianism and economic liberty; (iv) potential interviews with renowned scholars concerning relational egalitarianism and economic liberty; (v) peer-review seminars coordinated with the DKU Citizenship Lab.

Citizenship Lab Research Project: “Familial Love or Social Justice? Confucian Dilemmas of Ethics and Politics”

The Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab proudly funds Xiaoliang Yang’s  Signature Work project.

Student: Xiaoliang Yang, Class of 2023, Ethics and Leadership/Philosophy

Mentor: Lincoln Rathnam, Assistant Professor of Political Science

In this project, I consider Classical Confucians’ treatments of ethical dilemmas, as reflected in Confucian classics (especially the Analects and Mengzi). I respond to current scholarly debates, including where scholars (e.g., Fan Ruiping and Liu Qingping) frame Confucian ethics as “familial favoritism,” which means that familial interests possess higher priority than social goods. I argue that their account of Confucian familial favoritism is entirely based on Confucians’ compliments of those who prioritize familial interests in ethical dilemmas between family vs. society. But the acceptance of one choice does not necessarily lead to the refutation of the other, since Confucians might also praise those who prioritize social interests. In the latter parts of the thesis, I provide theoretical reasons for why I support an ethically pluralistic interpretation of Classical Confucianism and analyze why Confucians will also credit those who prioritize social interests where there are conflicts between family and society. Some of the sources I will incorporate in my research include primary and secondary literature in Classical Confucianism, such as the Analects, Mengzi, Xunzi, works of the New Confucian Mou Zongsan, Stephen Angle’s Contemporary Confucian Political Thought, and Joseph Chan’s Confucian Perfectionism. Ultimately, this project rejects the commonly held notion of “familial favoritism” ascribed to Confucianism by unveiling the underappreciated dimension of Confucianism in which social interests can be prioritized as well. This research also seeks to reconstruct Classical Confucianism as a system encompassing high tolerance of diversified solutions for the same problem. It aims to demonstrate the internal complexity and flexibility of Classical Confucianism, deepening our understanding of Confucian responses toward ethical dilemmas.

Student Report on Ghost Rivers in the Urban Anthropocene

Reported by Cody Schmidt, class of 2025

This talk was hosted by HRC’s Citizenship Lab. The Citizenship Lab seeks to understand the transformation of citizenship and the ways in which citizenship is expressed through ecological, temporal, and spatial terms.

Professor Kregg Hetherington from Concordia University joined Duke Kunshan’s Citizenship Lab on February 17th to deliver a presentation titled “Ghost Rivers in the Urban Anthropocene.” Moderated by Citizenship Lab co-director Robin Rodd, the lecture recounted the story of the St. Pierre, a river that once ran through Montreal and nourished the city in its foundation, now considered a “ghost river.” Continue reading “Student Report on Ghost Rivers in the Urban Anthropocene”