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.

Citizenship Lab Research Project: “Poetry, translation, and world citizenship in the long 1950s.”

Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab proudly funds Professor Alice Xiang’s research project, Poetry, translation, and world citizenship in the long 1950s.

Project members: Professor Alice Xiang & Research Assistant(s) TBD

Project Summary: This project explores the role of poetry as a key force in the production of solidarity between new and emerging nations in the 1950s. From multilateral peace conferences to transnational poetry anthologies, the works of left-leaning poets such as Nazım Hikmet, Pablo Neruda, and Nicolas Guillén were widely disseminated across a range of mediums during this period, making them highly influential in shaping aspirational forms of internationalist belonging and world citizenship. One of Turkish poet Hikmet’s most popular works, Angina Pectoris (1948), for example, opens with the following lines: “If half my heart is here, doctor / the other half is in China / with the army flowing / toward the Yellow River.”

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Citizenship Lab Announces: “The role of citizens in lawmaking in China”

Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab proudly funds Professor Annemieke van den Dool’s research project:

Title: The role of citizens in lawmaking in China
Project members: Professor Annemieke van den Dool, Ph.D. (Public Policy) and UG student (TBD)

Project Summary:
Since the early 2000s, lawmakers in China have started to more formally engage citizens in policy formulation through increased transparency, digitalization, and a public consultation procedure. The Legislation Law (2000) states that “Legislation should embody the people’s will … and guarantee that the people participate in legislative activities through various channels.” However, the question is to what extent the interests of citizens are indeed considered during lawmaking processes by the National People’s Congress.

To address this question, through qualitative content analysis of legislative records and case studies, this project analyses the extent to which NPC delegates draw attention to citizens and citizen concerns during lawmaking processes.

van den Dool, Annemieke
Annemieke van den Dool

Annemieke van den Dool is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Policy at Duke Kunshan University.

Congratulations to Prof Hyun Jeong Ha and Student Researcher Jiin Kim for receiving Citizenship Lab’s Faculty-Student Research Collaboration Grant!

Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab proudly announces recipients of the Faculty-Student Research Collaboration Grant: Professor Hyun Jeong Ha, Ph.D. (Sociology) and Jiin Kim (Undergraduate student researcher)

About the Research Project

Title: Dreaming of “Heavenly Citizenship”: Religious Conversion to Shincheonji (新天地) Among Korean Youths
Project members: Professor Hyun Jeong Ha, Ph.D. (Sociology) and Jiin Kim (Undergraduate student researcher)

Project Summary:
In February 2020, the average number of new COVID-19 cases in South Korea rapidly increased from less than one to hundreds per day. This fast increase at the very start of the spread of the virus in South Korea shocked the entire country. Korean media argued that this large-scale infection came from a new religious group called Shincheonji (新天地; New Heaven, New Earth). Since then, this group has been a target of major public blame and stigmatization, while its leader was imprisoned for over six months for not cooperating with the central government’s COVID-19 control policies. Continue reading “Congratulations to Prof Hyun Jeong Ha and Student Researcher Jiin Kim for receiving Citizenship Lab’s Faculty-Student Research Collaboration Grant!”

Casa Río: Biocultural citizenship and soy extractivism from Argentina to China

Humanities Research Center’s Citizenship Lab proudly presents Casa Río: Biocultural citizenship and soy extractivism from Argentina to China

Project members: Dr. Robin Rodd (Anthropology), Aisha Shen (student researcher)

The intensification of global warming and the slow rate of effective state-led efforts to reconfigure economies and socio-cultural systems away from unequal growth and wasteful consumption, have driven communities around the world to imagine ways of living justly with each other and other life forms.

This project combines ethnographic analysis and creative collaboration with Casa Rio to explore ways that citizenship and justice are being reconceived in biocultural terms. Over the last decade, Casa Río: Laboratorio del Poder Hacer (River House: Building Power Lab, ) has developed a spectrum of projects involving advocacy for social and ecological justice, communication and community building (, policy development, mapping ( and other visual products ( A primary aim of Casa Rio is to develop biocultural forms of civic engagement tied to understanding the coevolution and co-dependence of human, plant and animal ecologies in the Rio Paraná, one of the world’s largest wetlands ( The Paraná wetlands connect people, economies and ecologies in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, and Bolivia, providing irrigation and transport for the largest soy producing region on earth (the so called ‘republic of soy’). The Paraná has also become a flashpoint in Argentina for thinking about the relationship of ecological sustainability to social justice, and both in relation to accelerating climate change and extractive industry.

This DKU-Casa Rio collaborative research project builds on and explores two areas of Casa Rio’s work: mapping extractivism and reconceptualizing biocultural modes of citizenship.

Mapping extractivism: The metabolic circuit of soy from Argentina to China

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