DKU Humanities Research Center Announces Three New Research Labs

Starting January 2020, Duke Kunshan University will be launching three new research labs. The labs will enhance the research capacity and profile of Duke Kunshan University, and provide opportunities for research training for students. Students will be able to sign up for these labs starting in January and gain first hand research experience working with DKU’s top faculty. 

Freedom Lab

  • Professor Selina Lai-Henderson (Literature)
  • Professor Jesse Olsavsky (History)
Frantz Fanon (1925—1961)

Exploring the relations and varieties of “freedom” and “un-freedom” in the modern world has been a central preoccupation of scholars in virtually every field of knowledge. In fact, many thinkers have seen the relation between freedom and un-freedom as the fundamental paradox, or problem, of the modern world. For instance, W.E.B. Dubois observed that the growth of America’s democratic ideals and practices had been built upon the expansion of African slavery. Frantz Fanon later globalized this thesis, claiming that western notions of “freedom,” “citizenship,” or the “human” coincided with histories of enslavement, colonization, racialization, and dehumanization across the globe. Likewise, post-colonial theorists have explored the further contradictions of freedom that have emerged in the wake of national liberations from otherwise longstanding colonial oppression. Feminist thinkers revealed that the space ofthe most absolute autonomy in modern society—the private sphere—also happened to be the space where women worked for nothing, and where various forms of patriarchal oppression occurred.

The purpose of this lab is therefore to explore notions of freedom/un-freedom, their varied manifestations, and the intricate relations between them. A collaborative and experimental platform designed in part to support signature work in DKU’s U.S. Studies major, the lab welcomes students and faculty with diverse yet intersecting interests to explore and engage with each other in ways that contribute to meaningful global debates within and beyond academia.

Health Humanities Lab

  • Professor Benjamin Anderson (Global Health)
  • Professor Kyle Fruh (Philosophy)
  • Professor Kaley Clements (Digital Media Arts)
The Daoyin tu 导引图, an ancient Chinese chart for exercise (168 BCE)

Health Humanities, which has largely been developed in the last two decades, is a term used broadly to define the use of humanities in the promotion or discussion of human health and well-being. This inclusion of humanities has added significant value to health education and research programs worldwide. For example, clinical training programs are benefiting through the development of important skills for patient care such as observation, empathy,  and reflection. In fact, medical humanities, which incorporates philosophy, ethics, history, literature, and religion, is a formal interdisciplinary field of medicine, with so-named departments and faculty positions housed within many medical schools. The Health Humanities Lab will provide an interdisciplinary space for students and faculty with a broad range of skills and interests to explore the connection between health and the human experience.

Third Space Lab

  • Professor Emmanuelle Chiocca (Language and Culture)
  • Professor Xin Zhang (Chinese Language and Intercultural Communication)
  • Professor Saghar Leslie Naghib (Language and Culture)
“The process of cultural hybridity gives rise to something different, something new and unrecognisable, a new area of negotiation of meaning and representation” Homi Bhabha.

Third Space is the opening of a new field where different cultures converge, contest, and collaborate. It is a place of contact between languages (or “ways of being”), that is, a social and cultural reality co-constructed through discourse among people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The rules for games and expectations for players in this space don’t always conform to the assumptions and norms of the dominant, but are fluid and dynamic. Third Space Lab is grounded in the theme of underrepresented voices (gender, race, ethnicity, socio-economic status, linguistic, sexual orientation) and narratives of cross-cultural Third Space. We examine how the performed stories of the represented and the marginalized co-
construct and transform their multilingual identities in the Third Space.

The lab aims therefore to connect scholarship and practices while engaging faculty, students, staff, and different DKU units as consultants in the lab. The main research project of the lab will be a longitudinal, qualitative multiple case study of Chinese and international students at DKU and abroad.