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​News | Faculty members C.J. Wee Wan-ling (English) and Fang Xiaoping (Chinese) named Fellows of the National Humanities Center 2019

Published on: 17-Apr-2019

Two faculty members from the School of Humanities have been named Fellows of the National Humanities Center, under the Luce East Asia Program, for the Academic Year 2019-2020. The faculty members are Professor C.J. Wee Wan-Ling (English) and Assistant Professor Fang Xiaoping (Chinese).

The National Humanities Center is one of the world's top-notch centres for advanced research in the humanities. Inaugurated in 1978 and located in the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, NHC has been awarding up to 40 residential fellowships every year to top scholars throughout the US and the world through a highly competitive and prestigious fellowship scheme. This year, the National Humanities Center considered 647 applications.

"We are very pleased that NTU has achieved this groundbreaking success," said Professor KK Luke, Chair of SoH. With only three fellowship spots for the Luce East Asia Program, the fact that two of those went to SoH's faculty members is a huge achievement. This is also the first time that faculty members from SoH has been awarded fellowships from the National Humanities Center.

For more information, please visit https://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/nhc-names-fellows-2019-20/?fbclid=IwAR29w5bShdCUMDcW2ihDtq33vvL9cWrPCw6wKN_vtERRHc2RAosm1gT6sLM

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ABOUT THE RESEARCH PROJECTS

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IMAGINING CULTURAL ASIA: ART EXHIBITIONS, POPULAR CULTURE AND A REGIONAL CONTEMPORARY

C. J. W.-L. Wee

The 1980s-90s 'East Asian Miracle' saw a renewal of the idea of 'Asia', now not taken as some backward zone. The so-called 'flying geese' model of economic development, with Japan at the forefront, triggered not only socio-political discourses on the supposed Asian values that underlay dynamic economic growth in East Asia (with Southeast Asia taken as part of that concept of the region), but was also related to a dramatic increase in and circulation of cultural production, which formally or informally sought to define a multicultural intra-Asian culture and consumer. These developments were at least a partial – and unexpected – consequence of 1960s American attempts to bring Cold-War Asia back to 'normality' through the fostering of regional economic exchange, which also took Japanese economic influence back into Northeast and Southeast Asia after Japan's defeat in the Pacific War. The post-war arc of development enables parts of the region to feel less behind the thrust of History's progress: Asians should not now be thought of as less modern or 'traditional', but be taken to be as living in the present as much as the advanced West.

Imagining Cultural Asia covers the period 1980-2005, as it is arguably in this period that the increasingly global process of capital accumulation reaches a level critical enough such that the region's postcolonial nationalisms are reworked, with implications for aesthetic-cultural production. The 1980s onwards are a high-capitalist point in which East Asia becomes part of the diverse energies necessary for capitalism's world-wide reproduction. The project examines, first, visual art exhibitions, one of the most visible cultural sites in which the idea of New Asia is curated into being, given the need of major artistic institutions to facilitate intra-Asian artistic cooperation. Beginning from 1979, and particularly noticeable by the 1990s, select Japanese museums started to document and interpret the historical emergence of modern and contemporary Asian art., terms actually not well understood in the 1970s. The 1990s also witness significant museum and biennale-type events in Australia and Singapore exhibiting and holding forums on contemporary Asian art. I will also consider the increased intellectual-curatorial capacities to conceive of a cosmopolitan-multicultural contemporary Asia with some transnationalising capacity, the beneficiary of both the economically integrating and communicational functions of globalisation. At the same time, visual art curators are acutely aware that the region's cultural diversity and history of political fractures from the colonial era, the Pacific War and the Cold War can make regional cultural cooperation challenging. Globalising Asia becomes both the context for and vexed theme in East-Asian cultural regionalisation.

The project also examines, second, late-1990s, multilingual Hong Kong film and pop music in Japanese (J-Pop) from the late 1980s and, from about 2000, in Korean (K-Pop). The latter two pop-cultural forms surprisingly crossed national boundaries in ways that only pop music from Taiwan and Hong Kong had before: the emerging middle-class in the region manifest desires to consume not only popular culture in the globally hegemonic language, English, but foreign-language cultures requiring subtitling or translated lyrics. Such cultural practices previously were restricted to more self-consciously high-cultural productions. In certain respects, more than art exhibitions, popular culture displays the impact of increased regional economic exchange and interdependency. They constitute a cultural spectacle comfortable with the predispositions of footloose capital, in which there is a debordering first, tentatively, of Hong Kong film, and then, more firmly, of the national-linguistic spaces of J-Pop and K-Pop.

 

GLOBAL PANDEMIC, LOCAL POLITICS: DISEASE AND SOCIAL RESTRUCTURING IN MAO'S CHINA

Fang Xiaoping 

This project investigates the dynamics between disease and social restructuring during the global cholera pandemic in southeast coastal China in the significant transitional years between the three most radical political events of the 1960s: the Great Leap Forward, the Great Famine, and the Cultural Revolution. The study argues this global pandemic was more than just a health incident in China in the 1960s—it was also, more importantly, a significant social and political influence. Disease and its control were not only affected by the social restructuring that began in the 1950s and was strengthened in 1961 and afterwards, but they were also integral components of this and, to some extent, even prompted experimentation with possible alternative social structures. The pandemic therefore significantly contributed to the rise of the emergency disciplinary regime through integrating health governance and political governance in the specific sociopolitical context of the 1960s. Based on the reading and interpretation of rare, reclassified government archival documents and in-depth interviews with the ever-dwindling population of witnesses and survivors of the pandemic, this project presents a nuanced and detailed medical, sociopolitical, and global history of a previously unexplored aspect of Mao's China.

 

 









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