Interdisciplinarity and the Future of Knowledge

Tuesday April 14: 10am Eastern, 10pm China
Zoom: 695-290-0771

Interdisciplinarity lies at the heart of Duke Kunshan University’s innovative curriculum for the 21st century. Recently DKU appointed James Miller, Co-Director of the Humanities Research Center to be its first Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary Strategy. Join Professor Miller and students from the HumanSpace+ research group as they embark on a series of conversations with leading theorists and practitioners of interdisciplinarity in the world today to explore how interdisciplinarity is tied to innovation and future of knowledge.

Simon Goldhill

The first conversation in this series is with Professor Simon Goldhill from Cambridge University. Professor Goldhill was the first director of CRRASH,  the Centre for Research in Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge University. During his tenure as director, CRRASH  became the world’s leading interdisciplinary research institute of its kind, employing over 40 postdoctoral researchers on a number of groundbreaking collaborative projects. Continue reading “Interdisciplinarity and the Future of Knowledge”



3月3日,在昆山杜克大学人文研究中心与杜克大学富兰克林人文学中心共同主办的在线谈论会“新冠病毒带来的人类、社会和政治意涵”上,杜克大学政治学教授梅勒妮·马尼恩 (Melanie Manion) 谈到了媒体公信力的问题。来自昆山杜克和杜克大学的师生以及《南华早报》美国分社社长参加了讨论。 Continue reading “中国官方媒体正在失去公信力吗?”

Report on The Coronavirus: Human, Social, and Political Implications

By Sarah Rogers, Franklin Humanities Institute, Duke University

This post originally appeared on the Franklin Humanities Institute website.

In February 2020, after Duke Kunshan University closed its campus and shifted to online instruction in order to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19, a group of DKU faculty became residents at Duke University. These included two new residents at the Franklin Humanities Institute: James Miller, Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary Strategy and Co-Director of the Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University, and Tim Smith, the Humanities Research Center Lab Manager. Continue reading “Report on The Coronavirus: Human, Social, and Political Implications”

Is China’s official media losing its authority?

By Xiaoxi Zhu
Student Media Center fellow

The story of Wenliang Li, the so-called whistleblower of the coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis, was widely spread on Chinese social media when he died from the disease on Feb. 7. He was an ophthalmologist working in the Central Hospital of Wuhan, Hubei province, where the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed, and he was reprimanded for spreading “fake news” about the contagion in a WeChat group. Continue reading “Is China’s official media losing its authority?”

Humanities Research Center Continues Online

Due to the recent COVID-19 outbreak, Duke Kunshan University is transitioning to online learning until the situation returns to normal. During this online period, the Humanities Research Center will take advantage of the high tech infrastructure developed at Duke University and Duke Kunshan University to continue its activities, ensuring that students and faculty can continue to advance the research mission of the university. Continue reading “Humanities Research Center Continues Online”

The Coronavirus: Human, Social and Political Implications

(Image By Hao Zheng)

On Tuesday March 3, please join the Duke Kunshan University Humanities Research Center in partnership with the Franklin Humanities Institute for a panel on the human, social and political implications of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The seminar presents an opportunity for Duke Kunshan University and Duke University faculty and students to collaborate in a discussion about COVID-19 and share perspectives from China and around the world.


  • Benjamin Anderson, Assistant Professor of Global Health, Duke Kunshan University
  • Benjamin Bacon, Associate Professor of Digital Media, Duke Kunshan University
  • Chen Chen, Duke University Undergraduate Student
  • Robert Delaney, US Bureau Chief, South China Morning Post
  • Ralph Litzinger, Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University
  • Andrew MacDonald, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Duke Kunshan University
  • Melanie Manion, Vor Broker Family Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Duke University
  • James Miller, Associate Dean of Interdisciplinary Strategy and Co-Director of the Humanities Research Center, Duke Kunshan University
  • Yanping Ni, Duke University Graduate Student
  • Carlos Rojas, Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; and Arts of the Moving Image, Duke University; and Co-Director of the DKU Humanities Research Center
  • Denis Simon, Executive Vice Chancellor, Duke Kunshan University


Tuesday March 3

0800-0930 Eastern time / 2100-2230 China Time: Online Forum

The online forum will take place via Zoom: 272-114-035. DKU students and others are warmly invited to participate in the forum.

0930-1000 Coffee and Light Refreshments

Franklin Humanities Institute, Bay 4, Smith Warehouse, Duke University

1000-1130 Seminar

The seminar will take place in the Ahmadieh Family Lecture Hall in the Franklin Humanities Institute, Smith Warehouse Bay 4, Duke University.

Africa: Migration, Culture, Conflict

The Humanities Research Center at Duke Kunshan University is pleased to announce a three day event Africa: Migration, Culture & Conflict featuring three keynote scholars:

  • Fati Abubakar Gangaran, Duke University
  • Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town
  • Charles Piot, Duke University.

Wednesday 15 January, 7-9pm

Opening Reception and Photography Exhibition, “Bits of Borno,” with Fati Abubakar Gangaran.

Welcome by Professor Scott MacEachern, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs.

IB Lobby. Light refreshments provided.

Thursday 16 January, 6:30-8:30pm

Student Discussion Panel with keynote speakers hosted by the Society of Black Global Scholars: What Does It Mean to Be A Migrant?

Water Pavilion. Light refreshments provided.

Friday 17 January, 10am-2:30pm

Keynote Lectures in AB1087

10am: Shamil Jeppie, University of Cape Town

Introduced by Professor Selina Lai-Henderson

Writing, Timbuktu

The great Malian writer, Amadou Hampaté Bá, is reported to have said that, “In Africa, when an old man dies, it’s a library that burns.” But what happens when a library really disappears, especially in the world from which this writer has emerged? In recent years this has become an actuality in some places and remains a possibility in various parts of Africa as conflicts entail destruction of lives and things like books. This should take us back to the history of writing and books, in this case in West Africa. How and when did writing spread and libraries get formed? This talk will reflect on the question of writing as a technology and book learning and collecting as cultural forms of expression in the region around Timbuktu in West Africa.

11am: Coffee Break

11:30am: Fati Abubakar Gangaran, Duke University

Introduced by Professor Kaley Clements

Bruised, Not Broken

Since Boko Haram, literally meaning ‘Education is Forbidden,’ a terrorist group, launched  its first attack on a quiet morning in 2009 in Maiduguri, Borno State, North East Nigeria, there has been a media frenzy. From 2009 till date, there have been attacks, suicide bombing, abductions, silent killings. And mainstream media covered everything as ‘Breaking News’. There were no other stories besides the numbers, the blasts. The state is currently being plagued by the images of turmoil and despair with a total neglect of its resilience. Our hometown has been reduced to statistics: 20,000 died, 400,000 malnourished. We have become numbers. There are no faces to the conflict. No survivors. And it is as importance to document death as it is resilience. What is life like for the people left behind? What is like after the breaking news and bombs?

Bits of Borno is a photography project that chronicle the lives of people in the communities around Borno. It is the faces of the people who have survived Boko haram. An everyday life.  It is a story of a resilience people who are thriving in the midst of adversity. The project which has been ongoing for three years has also been documenting the humanitarian crisis in the state.

12:30pm: Lunch

1:30pm: Charles Piot, Duke University

Migration Stories: The US Visa Lottery and Global Citizenship

Introduced by Professor Jesse Olsavsky

More Togolese per capita apply for the US Diversity (Green Card) lottery than those from any other African country, with winners attempting to game the system by adding “spouses” and dependents to their dossiers.  The US consulate in Lomé knows this gaming is going on and constructs ever-more elaborate tests to attempt to decipher the authenticity of winners’ marriages and job profiles – and of their moral worth as citizens – tests that immediately circulate to those on the street. This presentation explores the cat-and-mouse game between street and embassy, situating it within the post-Cold War conjuncture – of ongoing crisis, of an eviscerated though-still-dictatorial state, of social death and the emptiness of citizenship under such conditions, of a sprawling transnational diaspora and the desires and longings it creates, of informationalism and its new technologies, of surveillance regimes and their travails, and of the way in which mobility/immobility and sovereignty are newly entangled and co-constitutive in the contemporary moment.

Keynote Speakers

Fati Abubakar Gangaran

Fati Abubakar Gangaran

Fati Abubakar Gangaran is a documentary photographer, photojournalist, public health humanitarian health worker from Nigeria was born and raised in Maiduguri, Borno State. She has a Bachelors degree in Nursing and a Masters degree in Public health and Health Promotion. She specializes in documenting cities, towns highlighting both the positives and negatives of each location. She focuses on health perspectives, using photography as a medium to highlight the problems at community level. She also has an interest in documenting cultures, conflict, urban poverty, rural development and humanitarian issues. She has a special interest in counter narratives for underrepresented communities. In 2015, she embarked on a personal project to showcase her hometown of Borno State, Nigeria at the time of Bokoharam. A project which has been titled ‘Bits of Borno’ on social media  has gained critical acclaim and has been published in media outlets including The New York Times, BBC, Reuters, CNN, Voice of America, Newsweek Europe, Africa is a Country blog, Nigerian newspapers such as ThisDay and the Blueprint. She has been commissioned to work with UNICEF, International Alert, Action Aid and more.

Shamil Jeppie

Shamil Jeppie

Shamil Jeppie received his PhD from Princeton University and is currently is Associate Professor of History at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He has worked on aspects of the social history of Cape Town and Durban, South Africa, and 19th-century Sudan. Shamil founded The Tombouctou Manuscripts Project in which he explored the formation of a culture of collecting in Timbuktu. He also led a National Research Foundation study group on history and the humanities in South Africa today. He has been the chairperson of the South-South Exchange Programme in the History of Development (Sephis), and is now the Director of HUMA, Institute for Humanities in Africa. Shamil serves on various platforms concerned with the development of the humanities, history and heritage in Africa and the global South.

Charles Piot

Charles Piot

Charles Piot is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University, where he has a joint appointment in African and African American Studies.  His area of specialization is the political economy and cultural history of rural West Africa.  His first book, Remotely Global: Village Modernity in West Africa (1999) attempted to re-theorize a classic out-of-the-way place as within the modern and global.  His second book, Nostalgia for the Future: West Africa after the Cold War(2010), explored shifts in Togolese political culture and sovereignty during the 1990s, a time when the NGOs and charismatic churches take over the bio-political, organizing social and political life in the absence of the state.  His recently-published book, The Fixer: Visa Lottery Chronicles, is about Togolese who apply for and attempt to game the US Diversity Visa lottery.

*Header photo, Eid, (c) Fati Abubakar



Drawing Workshop With Edén Barrena

By Yinan DU

During the second weekend of the fall semester, DKU welcomed its first drawing workshop and it turned out to be a huge leap towards the growth of Arts and Humanities o n our campus. The Spanish visual artist Edén Barrena is invited to instruct this three-days’ drawing workshop. She is fully experienced in interpreting the world around us and able to transmit the message she perceived to the audiences through various media forms. This drawing workshop aimes to help students do their research profile by integrating the creative practice. Through working with Edén , students were given abundant chances to explore arts and themselves and they start to develope a new spectrum for communication: talking through arts. Continue reading “Drawing Workshop With Edén Barrena”

Poster Drawing Workshop with Edén Barrena

September 6-8, 2019 in DKU Water Pavilion

Edén Barrena is a Spanish visual artist based in Shanghai who has exhibited her work internationally. Join her in a drawing workshop aimed at integrating creative practice to your research profile. The workshop will include tips on accessing the archive, interpreting your research into a visual medium, and critique from an experienced artist.

Register online. Continue reading “Poster Drawing Workshop with Edén Barrena”