HRC Citizenship Lab: Research Assistant Opportunity


Student Job Title: Research Assistant for The Citizenship Lab at the Humanities Research Center
Start date and end date: December 2022 – May 2023 (start and end dates flexible depending on student schedule)
Number of Students to Hire: 1 (open to students from any track)
Stipend: 40 RMB/hour
Workload: Project based, 1-5 hours per week (flexible depending on student schedule)
Reports to: Professor Alice Xiang

Please send CV and cover letter to by November 30, 2022.

Student researcher job description:
This project seeks a research assistant with the ability to read Russian. The student researcher would focus on identifying and translating 1950s Russian sources relating to the Turkish poet Nazım Hikmet, as well as commentary on China’s literary initiatives (in particular its push for ‘yafei wenxue’, or ‘Asiafrican literature’). Examples of such sources include major newspapers and periodicals. This project may be of particular relevance to students with a background in literature, history, or international relations, but is open to any student with advanced Russian reading ability and an interest in the topic.

Project title & description

Poetry, translation, and world citizenship in the long 1950s

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.”

The project takes as its focus the high-profile mutual engagement between Hikmet and the Chinese Communist Party, which lasted throughout the long 1950s. It situates Hikmet’s reception within the context of China’s close but tumultuous relationship with the Soviet Union (which resulted in the majority of Hikmet’s work being translated into Chinese via Russian), as well as the Party’s advocacy for yafei wenxue, or ‘Asiafrican literature’, which was framed as an anti-imperial world literature initiative, and which Hikmet’s poetry later became subsumed and championed under. What can Hikmet’s ‘solidarity poetry’ tell us regarding the relationship between nationalism and internationalism, between world revolution and world citizenship? What does the project of yafei/Asiafrica —the PRC-backed ‘literary supercontinent’ and large-scale translation initiative— reveal about the formations and limitations of transnational solidarity in this period? Through the lens of Hikmet and China, this project is ultimately interested in the relationship between the literary imagination, strategic (mis-)translation, and particularly expansive formulations of affiliation and citizenship.

The student researcher for this project will help identify and translate Russian sources through which Hikmet’s work was mediated from Turkish into Chinese in the 1950s, as well as relevant Russian commentary on the PRC’s literary ‘Asiafrica’ project.


About The Citizenship Lab:

The Citizenship Lab seeks to explore the socio-cultural and political dynamics that drive expansions of and restrictions on diverse political communities, the capacity to participate within these communities, and shifting understandings of the rights and responsibilities of the citizen. The Lab is oriented around three focal dimensions: the spatial, the temporal, and the ecological.