Humanities Research Center Current Research Projects

The Humanities Research Center proudly announces the current research projects being conducted by the HRC labs. We invite you stay in touch with updates on each of these projects by checking the news sections of our website and following our weekly newsletter.


Title: The Neganthropocene and Arts (Case studies in China)
Who: Prof. Jung Choi, Meixuan Wang, Yujia Zhai
Project summary: Inspired by the notion of Neganthropocene by a French Philosopher, Bernard Stiegler, the study explores innovative tactics by Chinese emerging artists that challenge the human-centered logic of understanding the world.

Title: DKU Augmented Reality (AR) Campus
Who: Prof. Xin Tong, Prof. Jung Choi, student researchers Qingyang He, Tony Ren, Weiran Li, and Ruiqi Chen
Project summary: In the research, we are creating an AR mobile app, DKU AR Campus, and investigating how augmented reality technology can support spatial digital co-creation and social interaction. We aim to understand multi-users’ social dynamics and examine their co-creation behaviors in an embodied AR context and derive design implications to shed light on future research.


Title: Casa Río: Biocultural citizenship and soy extractivism from Argentina to China
Who: Professor Robin Rodd and student researchers Yi Han & Aisha Shen
Project summary: This project combines ethnographic analysis and creative collaboration with Casa Rio to explore ways that citizenship and justice are being reconceived in biocultural terms.

(Stay updated with Citizenship Lab projects here)


Title: “You Are No Darker Than I Am:” Afro-Asian Encounters and the Afro-Asian Imaginary
Who:  Professor Selina Lai-Henderson, Assistant Professor of American Literature and History at Duke Kunshan University and Co-Director of the Freedom Lab at the Humanities Research Center and Student Researcher, Ruohan Wang (rising junior), who is assisting with archival research and translation of primary and secondary sources on notions and the reception of “blackness” in the Chinese literary scenes.
Project summary: “You Are No Darker Than I Am:” Afro-Asian Encounters and the Afro-Asian Imaginary is my 2nd monograph-in-progress. It stems from the desire to contribute to the burgeoning field of Afro-Asian Studies that illuminates the crossings of pan-Africanism, transnational American Studies, and East Asian Studies. The monograph fills a critical lacuna by probing the complex shifts of Afro-Asian discourses from late Qing through the early Maoist era, and the ways in which “blackness” travels across the literary and cultural landscape in these conflicting historical junctures. Delving into different articulations of an internationalist vision, the monograph activates concepts of race and the nation-state as vehicles of inter-cultural dialogue in the hope of transnational solidarity despite its challenges.

Professor Ira Soboleva and student researcher Chillion Munyiri
Project summary: The project focuses on corporate social responsibility for businesses. Student researcher, Chillion Munyiri is carrying out filed work in Kenya and Rwanda this summer in a study aiming to explore the compensation model of coffee farmers by multi-national coffee companies as part of his greater signature work


Documenting the Sustainability of Localized Organic Farming
Who: Professors Kaley Clements and Chuanhui Gu and Student Research Assistant, YufanGao
Project summary: This project is an episodic documentary video and photo essay that will focus on the Yue Feng Island Organic Farm which is located in Kunshan. The documentary will investigate the sustainability of smart agriculture at the intersectionality of culture, linguistics, economics, ecology, and environmental studies. The documentary will consist of three parts: 1) the regional oral culture: the connection between traditional farming culture and the local Kunshan dialect, 2) the relationship between crop diversity and genetically modified food, and 3) sustainability in smart agriculture: how the farmers and administrators incorporate the idea of sustainability into production and operation.

Spies in the Audience
Who: Professor Stephanie Anderson and Student Research Assistants, Siyuan Wang, Yilin Xu, Weiran Dong, Xiaomeng Yan
Project summary: Student researchers assist with the manuscript preparation of Spies in the Audience, a collection of interviews and resources showcasing the work of women actively engaged with small-press publishing between the 1950s and 1980s, as well as with an accompanying website archive. The project arises from a desire not only to preserve these accounts but also to draw further attention to women editors and publishers, as their work is still underrepresented in literary history.


Title: Motivations and Expectations of International Students at a Sino-Foreign Joint-Venture Institution in China
Who: Professor Xin Zhang and Professor Emmanuelle Chiocca; Chunyuan Sheng, Hong Pham, Aya Lahlou, Cameron Page, Queena Zhong, and Ryan Trombly participated in data collection
Project summary: This longitudinal project addresses the motivations and expectations of international students at a Sino-Foreign Joint-Venture Institution in China. It fills a gap on joint-venture universities in China, but also on the way we look at motivation in international education contexts. While most research has adopted a push-pull model to explain why international students choose to leave their country to study in China, scholars tend to focus on macro-level dimensions rather than integrating macro and micro levels, external and internal factors. This study, by concentrating on psychological dimensions, found that international students who choose to study at a JVU during the Covid-19 pandemic were guided by their desire to distinguish themselves and to change themselves.

Title: Translingual Project
Who: Prof Emmanuelle Chiocca and Prof Stephanie Anderson; Zhixin Gu and Jiayi He (Digital Assistants) so far
Project summary: This interdisciplinary and translingual project is born from the collaboration of Writing Stories for Children (Lit 109) and Beginning French Continued (French 102). Through this project, students in Lit 109 write short stories for children in English, which are then translated into French by French 102 students. The stories are also video recorded. These stories are posted on a website gathering English and French versions, voice recordings, and some language resources (related to the stories) for French 101 and 102 students.

Title: Foreign Professionals in Chinese Workplace
Who: Professor Xin Zhang, Research Assistants: Josh Mantos, Samantha Tsang, and Aya Lahlou
Project summary: Being able to function in a Chinese workplace is what many learners of Chinese as a Second Language (CSL) report as their long-term motivation and the ultimate goal of learning Chinese language and culture. Yet few empirical studies have investigated CSL learners at the most sophisticated level to understand what leads to and constitutes their multilingual experience (identity co-construction) as a foreign professional in modern Chinese workplace. This on-going research project aims to examine foreign professionals or academians with advanced Chinese skills working in a multilingual environment in China where being able to use Mandarin is integral to the subjects’ professional standing and performance.