Research

Current Fellows

2017-2020

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Dr Nathanel Amar

Nathanel Amar is a graduate from Sciences Po Paris (BA, MA, PhD) in political science, and Sorbonne University Paris 1 (BA, MA) in philosophy. His PhD, defended in December 2015, focused on the making of a counter-cultural sphere in contemporary China, with the help of an ethnographic fieldwork among Chinese punk and independent filmmaker communities. His primary research areas include pop culture and cultural hegemony, the relationship between Chinese counter-culture and mainstream culture and identity politics. 

Nathanel Amar taught Chinese sociology, cultural studies and international relations at Sciences Po Paris from 2015 to 2017, and worked as a research assistant in the Sino-French Center for social science at Tsinghua University (Beijing) from 2013 to 2015.

As a postdoctoral fellow at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Hong Kong, Nathanel Amar’s research focuses on popular music at China’s peripheries, mainly in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia. In the short term, this postdoctoral research aims at understanding how ethnic minorities in China reinvent their musical traditions and use it as a tool to produce and negotiate their identities. In the long term, this research, combined with his doctoral research on Chinese punks, will lead to a better understanding of Chinese popular culture and strategies of resistance against the State’s cultural hegemony.

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Dr John Gabriel

John Gabriel is a musicologist who seeks to understand the role of music and sound in the cultural history of Central Europe and the United States from the fin-de-siècle to the early Cold War. His interests include the productive collisions of art and popular idioms, of old traditions and new technologies, and of competing socio-political ideologies. 

As a fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong, Gabriel’s primary research project is a book on the music theater of the Neue Sachlichkeit in Weimar Republic Germany (1919-33). The composers of the Neue Sachlichkeit sought to create a new kind of avant-garde music that was accessible, relevant, and appealing to mass audiences without sacrificing artistic quality. A central tenant of their aesthetics was to create music that was of the “now.” How exactly music theatre could be of the “now,” however, was up for debate. Gabriel analyses music, stagings, and discourse to show how the aesthetics of the “now” played out, from superficial representations of the present-day on stage, to structural reflections of the jarring experience of modern life in musical form and dramaturgy. His investigation spans multiple genres of music theatre, including dance and marionette theater, opera, semi-staged oratorios and cantatas, and the radio music play.

Before coming to the University of Hong Kong, Gabriel was a visiting faculty member at the Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. He completed his Ph.D. in Historical Musicology with a secondary field in Germanic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University in 2016. His work has appeared in edited volumes in English and German, and he has presented at conferences across North America, Europe, and Israel, including the annual meetings of the Modern Languages Association, German Studies Association, and Society for American Music.
 

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Dr Harriet Hulme

Harriet Hulme holds a BA Hons in English and French from the University of Leeds (2007)
and both an MA (2010) and a PhD (2016) in Comparative Literature from University College London. During her doctorate, she spent three months as a fully-funded Visiting Assistant in Research at Yale University. Her PhD research focused upon the ethical theories of translation offered by Benjamin, Deleuze, Derrida and Ricœur as part of an interrogation of ethical as well as political thought within the work of three bilingual European authors; the monograph arising from her thesis, entitled Ethics and Aesthetics of Translation: Exploring the Work of Atxaga, Kundera and Semprún, is due to be published by UCL Press in 2018. Her work has also appeared in the peer-reviewed journal Comparative Critical Studies and in two edited volumes.

Harriet’s research project at HKU is entitled On the Threshold: Locating an Ethics of Hospitality Between Home and Homelessness. Inspired by her academic interest in issues of cultural and linguistic exchange and by her 16,000 km cycle trip across Europe and Asia, this is a strongly interdisciplinary project, focusing upon a range of twentieth and twenty-first century texts from a variety of cultures and languages. Taking a geoliterary approach, which maps questions of physical location and movement onto questions of textual location and movement, her research explores the ways in which the tension between home and homelessness informs our contemporary response towards hospitality. The project is conceived as a three-year venture, during which Harriet expects to produce three articles and prepare a second monograph for publication.
Harriet’s research interests are strongly comparative and are centred around the ethics of literature, with a particular focus upon issues of translation, bilingualism, migration, hospitality and nomadism. 

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Dr Robert Kramm

Before joining HKU’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Robert Kramm was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, University of Konstanz. In 2015, he earned his PhD in history at ETH Zurich with a thesis titled Sanitized Sex: Regulating Prostitution, Venereal Disease and Intimacy in Occupied Japan, 1945-1952, forthcoming with University of California Press (2017). From 2010 to 2012 he was a lecturer at the Department for Chinese and Korean Studies at Eberhard Karls University Tuebingen, and received his M.A., also in history, from the University of Erfurt in 2009. 

At HKU Robert Kramm works on his second book project tentatively titled Radical Utopian Communities: A Global History from the Margins, c. 1890-1950. It analyzes communes in Jamaica, Japan, South Africa, and Switzerland, cases ranging from religious sects to secular socio-political communes from the radical left to the far right. The project approaches them as significant hubs for the meeting of people across national and imperial boundaries. The selection of cases thus deliberately encompasses spatially and ideologically separated people and movements in different cultural, political and social contexts. The project’s aim is to stress the interplay of diversity, difference, and similarity in the modern world. In sum, radical utopian communities offer an ideal opportunity to analyze the range and limits of actors of globalization and the circulation of knowledge. And it allows new vantage points to narrate a decentered, non-Eurocentric global history of the early twentieth century from the margins of the geographical, political and social spectrum.

The research project incorporates many of Robert Kramm’s research interests, which are global history of the 19th/20th-centuries with a regional focus on modern Japan/East Asia, cultural history of the body and the intersectionality of race, class, gender and sexuality, history of everyday life (Alltagsgeschichte), and postcolonial studies.

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Dr Yu Zhang

(Emma) Yu Zhang’s research interests include modern and contemporary Chinese literature and culture, Chinese diaspora, socialism and postsocialism as well as the intersection of technology and modern culture.

As a fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong, she is working on a project focusing on the cultural practices and representations of “going to the countryside” in China (1915-1965). This spatial move refers to the ways intellectuals, reformers, revolutionaries, and idealistic youth crossed an urban-rural divide, geographically and culturally. With the increasing gap between the city and the countryside, “going to the countryside” brought new experiences of space and time, initiated new ways of human communication and interaction, generated new forms of cultural production, and ultimately created a new cultural, social, and political landscape. “Going to the countryside” in modern China has long been framed as the relationship between “the intellectuals and the folk/the peasants.” This project aims to go beyond the current pattern to explore the capacities of the category of the rural in (re)conceptualizing the Chinese modern experience. This project canvasses a variety of materials, including fiction, journalistic writings, political and sociological essays, film, illustrations, rural plays, and storytelling.

At HKU, she is also developing a new project examining the flows of overseas literature, intellectual writings, films, and TV dramas from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore into mainland China (late 1970s–early 1990s). She received her Ph.D. from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at Stanford University. Her essays have appeared in journals like Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, Twentieth-Century China, and Journal of Chinese Cinemas. Her research has been supported by a junior scholar grant from the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and other fellowships.

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