Current NYU Shanghai Global Research Initiatives Fellows

Matyas Mervay
PhD Candidate, Department of History, GSAS

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 2 - November 21):

Combining Chinese, Hungarian, German, Dutch, English and Russian sources, Mervay’s project focuses on Central Europeans from the former territories of the Habsburg Empire who lived in China between 1915 and 1931. Careful examination of the ever-changing relationship between former refugee Central Europeans and the Chinese authorities will provide a better understanding of Chinese sovereignty in a period when central power was constantly contested both by internal and external forces. The application of the Beijing government’s initial policy to admit and intern the Austro-Hungarian refugee prisoners of war also sheds light on the rise of a new form of Chinese humanitarianism that sustained cooperation between Beijing and the Northeastern provinces. Thirdly, by focusing on municipal archives (e.g. police records), he will gain a better sense of how these refugees were perceived from the ground up. By examining this hitherto overlooked group, he intends to develop a new lens for exploring Chinese state and society in the Republican era. Three research questions aim to keep Mervay’s project on track as of the current stage of his dissertation proposal draft. First: What happens to stateless people in a semi-colonial context? Second, what happens when a state leaves behind its citizens in a foreign country? Finally: How do we connect this historic experience with the present? Does this instance represent an important precedent in the Sino-foreign encounter?

Naomi Bendu
MA Candidate, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, GSAS

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 11 - October 9) :

Gender rights across cultures and countries, the role of women in societies. How is the “second new wave feminism” affecting nations that have different cultures and traditions? What is expected of them on the world stage as globalization pushes ideas beyond borders? How is feminism taking shape in China, a nation that is heavily protective of its culture and traditions? In what capacity does it allow for “feminism” to take root and shape the view of the younger generations growing up with social media platforms such as Weibo granting access to movements like MeToo and others? China has a lot of history that Bendu would like to use in advancing her research, furthermore, Jeong Min Kim, a teaching fellow at NYU Shanghai, is a gender historian whom she would very much like to have as thesis advisor. Bendu’s research will be greatly improved by spending time in Shanghai.

 
Chencen Cai
PhD Candidate, Department of Teaching and Learning, Steinhardt

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 2 - November 29):

This research project explores pre- and in-service Mandarin teachers’ language ideologies regarding Chinese varieties and language use. In the Han Chinese context, there is a large and complex intersection of languages and cultures subsumed under the single linguistic umbrella of Chinese. However, Mandarin is often referred to as the Chinese language, while other varieties are called dialects or “fangyan”. Indeed, the potential role of Chinese varieties in Mandarin classes remains contested for educational stakeholders. In the current project, through a constructivist grounded theory approach, Cai has conducted semi-structured interviews with 30 pre- and in-service Mandarin teachers studying or working in the New York metropolitan area. The interviews are based on their perceptions and experiences towards language diversity, language use, and Mandarin teaching. The outcome will be a deeper and more nuanced understanding of Chinese varieties and the roles teachers can play in clarifying the sociocultural landscape of Chinese for their students and peers. She is planning to check relevant references and language policy documents at the library at NYU Shanghai. Cai would also like to discuss with professors and researchers the current issues of Chinese language variation and methods of qualitative data analysis. The NYU Shanghai setting is ideal for the study context as the Shanghainese variety is widely spoken side by side with Standard Mandarin.

Alex Ruthmann
Associate Professor, Music and Performing Arts Professions, Steinhardt

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 2 - December 13):

Professor Ruthmann’s main research project - Play With Your Music - is focused on developing interactive learning materials for creative experience design and innovation for the Chinese education and technology markets. Building on the connections he has with the NYUSH Program on Creativity and Innovation (PCI), which has taken the form of a new presence for his research lab - MusEDLab - at NYUSH, and a successful summer 2018 course - Creative Learning Design, he is seeking to spend his year-long sabbatical in residence at NYU Shanghai to be close to current consulting and research projects connected to creative technology startups in Shanghai and Shenzhen, as well as work with Jack Ma's Yungu School in Hangzhou. He has a book under contract which is focused on documenting the creative work process that he has implemented within his Lab the past 5 years at NYU. A potential research project documenting the curriculum development process within Jack Ma's Yungu School is in proposal stage. If approved, that project would take place during the 2019-2020 school year in Hangzhou.

Carlos Yebra Lopez
PhD Candidate, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, GSAS

Synopsis of Research in Shanghai (September 7 - December 4):

Lopez’s research project, provisionally entitled "Metaphors We Kill By: A Critical Metaphor Analysis of (Counter) Jihadist Propaganda in Contemporary Spain (2004-2017)", aims at exposing the propagandistic nature of the current cultural and political uses of the notion of jihad in Contemporary Spain. In the grand scheme of things, however, the significance of his project is much larger: it is about raising awareness on the dangers of State-sponsored ideological manipulation and building peace and understanding at a global scale through the advancement of knowledge. China plays a key role in this in that its recent emergence as a global security actor does affect core European interests, particularly in the field counter-terrorist cooperation in the Middle East and South Asia.

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