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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.

  • 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).