Back to About us

Mobility Scheme

One of our main goals is to foster the mobility of staff between our institutions. To that end we have designed a scheme to provide funding for scholarly exchange between Cambridge and the other network partners that leads to joint teaching ventures (primarily but not exclusively at post-graduate level) and builds the basis for new research initiatives which can lead to larger-scale opportunities/collaborations in the future. Applications are normally considered for stays of between two and four weeks. We particularly welcome applications that enable students and researchers to understand and interrogate new ideas and foster a greater plurality of voices in the scholarly community. We had a very encouraging response to the scheme when it was launched in January 2022, and we look forward to seeing it grow and flourish as the Covid pandemic lifts.

  • Satire in a Global Context

    Rebecca Anne Barr (English, School of Art & Humanities, University of Cambridge) and David Currell (English, American University of Beirut)

    This project between English Faculty at the American University of Beirut and the University of Cambridge seeks to examine the roles and forms of satire in a global context. It aims to analyse satire as ‘world literature’: that is, as writing which ‘circulates beyond the country of origin, whether in translation or in [its] original language’ (David Damrosch, World Literature, 4) and which circulates internationally, changing and acquiring meanings beyond those found in its initial cultural and historical context. By bringing together literary specialists on satire, as well as comparatists working in both institutions, this project aims to examine the transformations of satirical texts across diverse linguistic and cultural contexts. The plan of activities proposed for this iteration of the scheme are envisaged as setting the foundations for a longer-term knowledge exchange between the two universities. This will kick start the collaboration by establishing collaborative affinities and exploring points of overlap and contact between Prof Currell’s research on seventeenth-century satire and her own work on humour. As part of the visit, she will give a research seminar on William Hogarth’s afterlives in contemporary digital satire. This talk will develop ideas set forth at a conference on Hogarth’s role in the Humanities and will consider the international resonance that eighteenth-century satire has in the current geopolitical turmoil. This will set the framework for further examinations of satire in global contexts: the deterritoralized space of the internet providing an arena for the exchange and metamorphosis of satirical texts and images.

  • The Diplomatic Writer and the Hospitable Text: how early modern literature adapts the local to the landscape of global modernity

    Jenny Mander (French, Faculty of MMLL at University of Cambridge) and Chengzhou He (English, Drama and Comparative Literature, Nanjing University)

    The European Enlightenment is widely considered as a formative period in the history of Western civilization and is invoked as positive or negative reference point either side of the rhetorical border that divides ‘East’ from ‘West’.  In recent decades, the intellectual and societal transformations during this period have been examined increasingly in global context.  Postcolonial literary criticism has, however, foregrounded transatlantic colonial dynamics and their legacies at the expense of eighteenth-century European/Asian entanglements.  The economic focus of the Re Orient movement, on the other hand, has neglected cultural exchange and the impact of literary texts on East-West global relations during this period.

    This project will consider these relations through the lens of the literary, including historical, philosophical, political, and emerging anthropological discourses, as well as narrative fiction and theatre.  The emphasis will be less on ‘Orientalism’ (or ‘Occidentalism’) and more on the ‘diplomatic’ and ‘hospitable’ functions of literature, exploring the type of work literature does, including through translation, in various social and cultural contexts, in adapting the local to the landscape of the global.  By retracing East-West connections that are inscribed within literary discourse and their impact on contemporary readers/audiences, the aim is to reflect collaboratively upon cultural hospitality in eighteenth-century Europe and Asia, and its contribution to debates about the nature of universal humanity and the legitimacy of enlightened ideas of progress.

  • Variations of the “Hudson River Landscape”: (Re) mediation of Nature in American Modernism

    Weiyi Wu (School of Arts, Nanjing University) and Joanna Page (The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, University of Cambridge)

    Although many scholars have elaborated on historical and aesthetic significances of the Hudson River School, it has been treated as a homogeneous and static object in these studies. Focusing on Thomas Cole and his pupil Fredric Church, this project aims to examine variations of the “Hudson River Landscape” through analysing the cross-fertilization between the emerging American school of landscape painting and Romantic Poetry, artistic photography from the perspective of comparative arts. The paradoxical role of photography is carefully investigated in order to reveal how nature is constructed as an aesthetic ideal through mediation and remediation by geologists, travellers and artists. The relationship between art and technology is thus a central theme of this project, which takes its discussion to a more nuanced layer – the sense of darkness inherent in aesthetic Modernism, thus manifesting the relevance of this project to current theoretic debates on environmental aesthetics, post humanism and Anthropocene.

  • Distributive Epistemic Justice and Public Trust in Science

    Faik Kurtulmus (Political Science and International Relations, Sabanci University) and Stephen John (History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge)

    If science based policies are going to be democratically legitimate and effective, the public has to trust science. Moreover, this trust needs to be well-placed: citizens should trust scientists worthy of their trust and in light of good reasons. However, citizens’ opportunity to enjoy well-placed public trust in science is not equal. This project will examine two sources of inequality and explore what justice requires in response to them.

    The first source of inequality arises out of the inevitable role of values in science. In our inquiries about the world, there is always the risk of error. Given our limited resources, we must decide which errors we’ll prioritize avoiding. This choice reflects value judgments. For instance, research about the effects of different policies in response to a pandemic involve choices about the badness of under or over estimating different risks. How such choices are made impacts citizens’ opportunity to enjoy well-placed trust in science: If scientists are likely to have not factored in a social group’s interests into their value judgments, then it makes sense for members of this group to be less trusting of the scientific advice they give.

    The second issue arises because different social groups have different relationships with science. Some groups, such as African Americans in the United States, have historically been subject to unethical treatment by the medical establishment. In such cases, it is more difficult for members of these groups to trust scientists compared to more advantaged groups. They need to be offered more evidence to enjoy well-placed trust in science.

    Both inequalities of the opportunity to enjoy well-placed trust in science raise complex questions of justice. The project will be an opportunity for the host and the applicant, who have both contributed to the philosophical literature on public trust in science, to explore the complex interaction between public trust in science and the requirements of justice.

  • The Powers of Literature. Alexandre Kojève and The Post-War Literary Scene

    Ovidiu Stanciu (Institute of Philosophy, Diego Portales University) and Emma Gilby (French, Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge)

    Alexandre Kojève is above all known for his seminar on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit, delivered between 1933 and 1939 at the EPHE in Paris, which contributed decisively to the introduction of Hegelian thought into French culture. This research intends to conduct focuses on the relation between Kojève’s philosophical project and literature. Drawing on his published works and on manuscripts available in the Fonds Alexandre Kojève of the French National Library, we will first explore that way in which authors such as Georges Bataille and Raymond Queneau have taken up and worked out in their own literary projects the impulses provided by Kojève’s work. Secondly, we will examine the transforming retroeffect Kojève’s reading of his former students’ literary productions had on his own thought. In particular, we will contend that it is while addressing the challenges raised by the works of Bataille, Queneau (but also Françoise Sagan), that Kojève developed a general theory of literature, absent in his previous works. In this context, literature is to be understood as a particular strategy of sense-making, capable of tearing open the already established frameworks of meaning, interrupting the normative structures in place in order to make room for a surplus of meaning, otherwise inaccessible.

  • The use of cultural toolkits for accepting a child's homosexuality: An analysis of what Chinese mothers say about their children’s homosexuality

    Peiqin Zhou (Sociology, School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Nanjing University) and Heather Inwood (Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, FAMES, University of Cambridge)

    My main areas of research and teaching are gender studies and media studies. In the past few years, I have focused on homosexuality, and specifically on two specific projects: First, I have led a team composed of students from my university to make a 40-minute documentary about a queer choir in Nanjing. The documentary has been accepted by the biennial conference of the Association of Visual Anthropology in China in 2022. Second, I have been doing research on parental responses to their homosexual child’s “coming out.” The methods for this project include participatory observation, interviews and text analysis. I would like to share my research with Cambridge’s people for feedback. I also hope to develop new collaborations.

    In addition, I have taught independently or co-taught at universities in the United States, France and Germany, and actively participated in the international affairs of Nanjing University. At Cambridge, I would like to pursue the following activities.

    1. Screening our documentary about Nanjing’s gay choir. Zai Xu, one of the two directors of the documentary, is currently studying for his master’s degree in Cambridge under the supervision of Professor Sarah Franklin at Sociology Research.
    2. Delivering a talk about my research on homosexuality.
    3. Participate in courses related to my research.
    4. Visiting local organizations for gender equality and diversity.
  • Global Political Thought: India in Context

    Kranti Saran (Philosophy, Ashoka University, India) and Shruti Kapila (History Faculty, Cambridge) 

    Our project encompasses intellectual collaboration and exchange on one of the most cutting-edge innovations in the humanities: the globalisation of political thought. Modern scholarship is awakening to the intellectual depth of figures and texts from the global South and their potential for radically reconfiguring modern scholarship. We will design a short course that will teach novel methods to generate productive readings of neglected texts that will help direct and shape future scholarship and conversation. 

    Our course will be an introductory immersion in selected texts, methods, and key concepts that are reconfiguring political thought today. We will reflect on Indian texts and concepts—excerpts from the Mahabharata epic for instance – and put them in dialogue with western analogues such as excerpts from Thomas Hobbes’s works. However, our method is not comparative. We aim instead at foundational and comprehensive readings that take the intellectual world from which these concepts emerged seriously. We create these readings by integrating diverse approaches such as contextualism, analytic philosophy, and historical methods. Through covering four central themes—the self and its powers, the good ruler, war, and peace—students will be equipped to reconceptualise foundational questions of politics, ethics, and human life. For example, a reading of the nun Sulabhā’s refutation of King Janaka (Mahabharata 12.308) shows how a particular conception of the self and its powers, radically distinct from modern conceptions, produces a discourse sensitive to gender disparities that holds power to account. At the same time, it offers critical perspectives on the social and sexual contract as theorised in the West. 

    The main activity will be a jointly taught weekly seminar spread over a month for graduate students. 

  • Migrant Ecologies

    Martin Crowley (/French, Cambridge University), Subha Mukherji (English, Cambridge University), Jonathan Gil Harris (English, Ashoka University) and Sumana Roy (Creative Writing, Ashoka University)

    This new collaboration grows organically from the overlap between the participants’ research (Mukherji’s on migrant forms and migrant knowledge; Harris’s on the migrancy of personal objects; Roy’s on colonial botany; Crowley’s on migration understood through distributed agency). It creates the concept of ‘Migrant ecologies’ as a tool for students and researchers to analyse the generation of meaning and forms within processes of displacement, and as a basis for ongoing research collaboration between the participants. It focusses on forms of migrancy – human, non-human and aesthetic – as tracing fault-lines where the geophysical, the political, and the imaginary meet. Mapping these, it tracks key encounters where worlds are unmade and re-made: between cultures and mobile populations, the global and the planetary, migrant bodies and formal institutions of power, and human and non-human participants in enforced movement. 

    The project proposes a co-taught graduate module, initially to run for one term/semester. It will examine literary, historical-archival and filmic materials to address topics including: migrant forms (imaginative works responding to the ethical demands of mass dislocation) and moving things (contingent material remnants accompanying displacement); strange encounters and forms of improvised coexistence (between people, and between human beings and materials). Featured sites will include the Black Atlantic, the Francophone Caribbean, the Indian subcontinent, the Silk Roads, the Mediterranean, and postcolonial Europe. Chronological encounters will contrast and connect the early modern and the contemporary as framing and as organized by histories of migration. 

    During the visit, the team will hold eight meetings to design the co-teaching in detail; present teaching plans for graduate student feedback; conduct two research workshops; identify external funding sources and planning future collaborations in a research network, an international colloquium, and co-authored publications.

  • Philosophy of Medicine

    Jie Yin (Philosophy, Fudan University) and Alexander Bird (Philosophy, Cambridge University)

    Our project will initiate collaboration in teaching and research at the intersection of philosophy and medicine. Fudan University has a long-term goal of promoting medical humanities, with Philosophy of Medicine now recognized as a core subject. The project brings together two experts: Jie Yin, whose textbook on the subject was published in 2020 (《医学哲学》/Philosophy of Medicine, 复旦大学出版社/ Fudan University Press) and has been adopted for courses at several universities in China; and Prof. Alexander Bird, a renowned scholar fundamental in the field of philosophy of science and medicine. Our aim is to co-design a philosophy of medicine course for graduate students at Fudan. It is hoped too that the course will be the beginning of future collaborations between both institutions. 

  • National War Image Production in Contemporary Chinese Films

    Junlei Yang (Chinese Language and Literature, Fudan University) and Hans Van de Ven (Asian and Middle Eastern Studies)

    Chinese war films function at different levels and integrate different themes, one of which is the development of the Chinese Communist Party during the War of Resistance against Japan (1937-1945) and its changing leadership role during this war. This project focuses on a series of early war films of the 1950s, which predate the wave of war films that burst unto the scenes in the 1990s and beyond. If these focused on the national character of China’s resistance, the 1950s war films focused on the role of Chinese Communist Party, the nature of the Japanese invasion, and the contribution to the war of various groups in society. 

    The objective is to explore and analyze the “Red China” imagery of 1950s war films by discussing questions such as: “How did these films depict the Party’s history in transnational war scenes” and “How did they impact public memory of China’s war with Japan”. Exploring these topics will help us deepen our understanding of the production of war films at the time, the political contexts in which they operated, and the similarities and differences with war films produced elsewhere in the world. Our study will explore the linkages between the Second World War and the formation of national consciousness in East Asian history. 

  • Global interconnections in the contemporary German-language novels by W. G. Sebald, Ilija Trojanow, Stephan Thome and Christoph Ransmayr

    Li Shuangzhi (German Department, Institute for Foreign Languages and Literature, Fudan University) and Sarah Colvin (German, Faculty of Modern & Medieval Languages, Cambridge University)

    This project will focus on narratives of global interconnections in the German-language novels of W. G. Sebald, Ilija Trojanow, Stephan Thome and Christoph Ransmayr. Their various representations of Asian-European encounters combine historical experiences of cultural otherness and current concerns about the ongoing globalization process. The aim is to explore critical moments in the creative rewriting of global history and to understand the particular world-, self- and other-images developed by German-speaking authors in the present. 

    The contemporary novel contributes to the (re-)production of global visions in a special way and draws attention in the recent literature. Academics note that authors all over the world are writing significant texts that show the global network of relationships, knowledge, signs and images of different cultures, shaped by the changing structure of powers. Their fictive stories elaborately display the colonial desire, the anxiety of identities as well as the constant construction of centres and margins in global dimensions. The latest winner of Nobel Prize for Literature 2021, Abdulrazak Gurnah, is a prominent example. 

    In German literature from the late twentieth century until now, there is also a wide range of novels that deal with globalization and its consequences. One factor in this is the rise of a reunited Germany as a global player. Another is the increasing ethnic diversity of German-speaking countries. It is important therefore to examine the writings of German-speaking authors as literary reflections of global experiences. 

    Through our collaboration, contemporary German-language novels will be closely read and analyzed, with special attention given to issues such as the colonial past of globalization, global injustice and the confrontation of Asia and Europe.

  • French theory on the move

    Xiaoquan Chu (French Department, Institute for Foreign Languages and Literature, Fudan University) and Martin Crowley (MMLL/French, Cambridge University),

    This project aims to explore the conditions under which ideas and concepts move from one social and cultural environment to another with impacts that are only explicable in a larger historical context. We will focus on a particular case constituted by the worldwide propagation of a set of philosophical innovations known collectively as French theory. Since the end of the Second World War, French, or more precisely the Parisian intellectual circle, has been driven by an urge to revolutionize analytical tools for the study of literature, history, politics, society and the human creation in its most varied forms. While all those familiar conceptual labels – existentialism, structuralism, post-structuralism, de-constructionism etc. – might not do justice to the rich variety of the individual approaches by these versatile thinkers, they can serve as convenient indications for a general understanding of these theories and of the inner logic of their developments. Moreover, these different French theories came to be known in other countries and in other languages generally under these labels. In the second half of the twentieth century, French theory was enthusiastically received, notably in North America and mostly in departments of literary studies. 

    While theoretical developments in post-war France manifestly followed a philosophical lineage initiated in Germany, from Hegel and Nietzsche to Heidegger, French theory was at the same time also elaborated as a reaction to social and intellectual challenges faced by French society after the War. In America, these theories were. however, understood and interpreted in a quite different context, and many proponents of French theory in the US are generally motivated by a social and political agenda distinctly different from that of their French counterparts. 

    When the works of these eminent French intellectuals were introduced to China from the 1980s onwards, they were called upon to play yet another role in the transformation of the Chinese intellectual world and society in general. This process provides us with fascinating material for the study of the life of ideas and concepts during times of social and historical change. It is hoped that our project will lead to academic talks, seminars and joint teaching and publications.

  • Impact of technology and construction advancements in urban life and the future of cities

    Elizabeth Wagemann, Nicolás Cabargas and Andrés Briceño (Architecture LCT- MATT, Diego Portales, Chile) with Michael H. Ramage and Ana Gatóo (Architecture (CNMI)

    This collaborative project seeks a joint reflection on the future of cities based on the impact of technologies on the built environment. The way cities have developed at different times in history has been impacted by advances in construction technology. For example, the development of tall buildings in the mid-nineteenth century was a consequence of the development of steel, reinforced concrete, and the invention of the elevator, changing the density of cities and the urban life. 

    New technological developments, such as large-scale 3D printing machines, artificial intelligence, drones, and virtual prototyping, as well as the need to use more sustainable and innovative materials, will have an impact on the design of cities of the future, and therefore, the way we inhabit them. 

    The objective of this collaboration will be to question the impact of technology and construction advancements in urban life, and to reflect on possible visions of the future of cities. This topic is of interest of both departments of architecture, the City and Territory LAB (Diego Portales), Materials and prototypes LAB (Diego Portales), and the Center for Natural Material Innovation (Cambridge).

  • Exploring urban futures. Ideas for tomorrow’s cities

    Elizabeth Wagemann (Architecture, Universidad Diego Portales) and Michael H. Ramage (Architecture, Cambridge University)

    This collaborative project seeks a joint reflection on the future of cities based on the impact of technologies on the built environment. The way cities have developed at different times in history has been impacted by advances in construction technology. For example, the development of tall buildings in the mid-nineteenth century was a consequence of the development of steel, reinforced concrete, and the invention of the elevator, changing the density of cities and the urban life. New technological developments, such as large-scale 3D printing machines, artificial intelligence, drones, and virtual prototyping, as well as the need to use more sustainable and innovative materials, will have an impact on the design of cities of the future, and therefore, the way we inhabit them. The objective of this collaboration will be to question the impact of technology and construction advancements in urban life, and to reflect on possible visions of the future of cities. This topic is of interest of both departments of architecture, the City and Territory LAB (U. Diego Portales), Materials and prototypes LAB (U. Diego Portales), and the Center for Natural Material Innovation (U. Cambridge).