Asian Research in the Fog of Pandemic

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Friday, March 5th, 2021

Friday, March 5, 20212:00PM - 4:00PMOnline Event, Online Event
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Dr. David Chu Distinguished Lecture Series



In recent years, researchers have highlighted the importance of using “Asia” as a site to develop new research tools and methods to rethink the global world. The outbreak of Covid-19, in many ways, has only heightened this call. Beyond the Asian stories of “failures” and “successes” in dealing with the ongoing public health crisis, the pandemic has exacerbated the existing geopolitical tensions, dispossession, as well as state violence against minorities and political dissidents, all against the backdrop of a series of ever-growing planetary crises.

With the pandemic still evolving, how should specialists of Asia begin to examine their “field” when the field itself is mutating, and when there is no clear sense of how to go about documenting and knowing the unknown? In this conversation, distinguished Asia scholars working from a variety of interdisciplinary contexts, including anthropology, cultural studies, history, and media studies, will reflect on the challenges of conducting research into the unknown in a politicized, racialized, sensationalized, and emotion-laden environment.

MICHAEL BERRY is a translator and author who is Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies and Director of the Center for Chinese Studies at UCLA. He has written and edited eight books on Chinese literature and cinema, including Speaking in Images: Interviews with Contemporary Chinese Filmmakers (2006) and A History of Pain: Trauma in Modern Chinese Literature and Film (2008). He has served as a film consultant and a juror for numerous film festivals, including the Golden Horse (Taiwan) and the Fresh Wave (Hong Kong). A two time National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellow, Berry’s book-length translations include The Song of Everlasting Sorrow: A Novel of Shanghai (2008) by Wang Anyi, shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, To Live (2004) by Yu Hua, a selection in the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read library, and Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City (2020) by Fang Fang.

BISHNUPRIYA GHOSH is Professor of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she teaches environmental media and global postcolonial studies. Much of her early scholarly work interrogated the relations between the global and the postcolonial; area studies and transnational cultural studies; popular, mass, and elite cultures. Apart from works that address global mediascapes, in the last decade, Ghosh turned to risk distributions and their relationship to media. She has written several essays on the subject and has co-edited collection (with Bhaskar Sarkar), The Routledge Companion to Media and Risk (2020). She is completing a single-authored , The Virus Touch: Theorizing Epidemic Media which considers how mediatic processes detect and compose epidemics as crises events.

RALPH LITZINGER is Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University. He is the author of Other Chinas: the Yao and the Politics of National Belonging (Duke University Press, 2000), and, more recently, with Carlos Rojas, Ghost Protocol: Development and Displacement in Global China (Duke University Press, 2016). He has published in leading cultural anthropology and Asian studies journals. He directed Duke’s Asia/Pacific Studies Institute from 2001-2007, and the Duke Engage Migrant Education Project from 2008-2015. His new research concerns questions of planetary futures, digital labor and platform capitalism, human and post-human techno-imaginaries. His most recent publication, with Fan Yang, is “Eco-Media Events in China: From Yellow Eco-Peril to Media Materialism,” Environmental Humanities, May 2020.


Michael Berry
Professor of Contemporary Chinese Cultural Studies, Department of Asian Languages & Cultures; Director, Center for Chinese Studies, UCLA

Bishnupriya Ghosh
Professor of English and Global Studies, UC Santa Barbara

Ralph Litzinger
Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Duke University

Tong Lam
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Toronto; Acting Director, Dr. David Chu Program in Asia-Pacific Studies at the Asian Institute

Main Sponsor

Asian Institute


Dr. David Chu Program in Asia Pacific Studies

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