PhD Supervision

Current PhD projects

 Irene Villaescusa

 Hispano Filipino Literature in a Global Context: (Post)Colonialism, Modernity and  Spectrality (2013-2017)

Zapatos, cuchara, platito, puede, gusto, solidaridad … ‘[shoes, spoon, little plate, can, to like,  solidarity]…’ These words are used by most Filipinos in and outside the Philippines, although most people are unaware of their origin, especially young generations, for whom it is simply the way of speaking. Three hundred years of Spanish colonial rule and another fifty of American occupation have produced a complex and interesting process of transculturation in the Philippines that Magellan would have never foreseen when he landed in Cebu in 1521. The impact of global forces have transformed Filipino society into a genuine hybrid of multilingual, multiethnic and pan-religious components embodied in a traditional but modern culture in which the Hispanic holds an intriguing spectral position.

In this study I focus on the political and cultural perspective of Hispano-Filipino writers after Jose Rizal with regard to the configuration of Filipino identity. The main aim of this research is to discover what discourses characterized the heyday of Hispano Filipino literature from 1900 until 1950 and how it positioned (and continues to position) itself in relation to Hispanic and transnational literature. I use the concept of transculturation as a productive term that acknowledges the agency of the local in order to analyze the interplay of multiple cultural influences (Hispanic, European, American and Asian) that the Hispano Filipino literature of this period engaged with. I will assess how Hispano-Filipino literary imagination constructed and mediated local, national and global histories in order to establish a specific discourse governing the imagined communities and the (g)local realities of the Philippines.

Supervision together with Esther Peeren.

Selçuk Balamir

Beyond the commodity-machine: The production of the common in post-capitalist   design cultures (2013-2017)

Design cultures have so far been analysed in separate stages of production, mediation and consumption, or, along the circuit of the ‘commodity-machine’ —an unsustainable configuration vulnerable to multiple crises. Emergent ‘postcapitalist’ design cultures bypassing market mediation require a different framework, based on the production of shared value, as opposed to exchange value. Three ‘commoning’ strategies are distinguished: a) peer production, in the activity of designing subjects, b) open source, in the circulation of design projects, c) digital fabrication, in the making of designed objects. To what extent these practices prefigure a new and sustainable basis for product design, and redirect the production and distribution of material artefacts towards viable, desirable and equitable configurations?

Supervision together with Johan Hartle and Joost de Bloois.

Penn Tsz Ting Ip

Affect and Urbanity: Single Migrant Women’s “Home” in Shanghai (2013-2017)

Part of the HERA project “Creating the ‘New’ Asian Woman: Entanglements of Urban Space, Cultural Encounters and Gendered Identities in Shanghai and Delhi”

Currently, there are 262 million rural-to-urban migrant workers in China. As China’s most cosmopolitan city, Shanghai’s population comprises more than 3 million migrant women.  Central to my project is the study of the mediation, construction and composition of the working-class single migrant woman’s “home”. The project’s objective is to unfold the ways in which this “home” is being mediated and how the single women construct and compose it, thereby not only shaping, modifying, and manipulating their intimate lives (particularly at the affective level), but also allowing for moments of agency and sites of empowerment in the era of precariousness.  In terms of existing scholarship, the topic of migrant women has attracted a fair amount of research, which, however, mainly focuses on these women as economically exploited victims in a global capitalist system.  Their intimate lives and their negotiation of city spaces have been largely neglected.  I employ affect theory to discern, interrogate, and analyse single migrant women as affective / exploring beings.

Supervision together with Esther Peeren.

Simon Ferdinand

Map Art: Alternative Visions of Globalisation (2012-2016)

The use of cartography as the formal and thematic substance of artistic production is an increasingly recognised and widespread tendency that has emerged and established itself over the last century.  Transgressing received boundaries and submitting so constitutively modern a visual apparatus as the map to often withering aesthetic and conceptual play, ‘map art’ has frequently been produced and construed as congruent both with waves of ‘globalisation’ and with the moment of ‘postmodernism’ in culture at large.

My project aims to determine the place of this distinctive and rapidly developing form of practice within the ideological and rhetorical milieu of ‘globalisation’ and related cultural categories, and to thereby tease out, ground and subject some of its prevailing assumptions and formal tendencies to critical scrutiny.  I am particularly concerned to put pressure on the conception of map art as a postmodern disavowal of the power and authority of cartography by emphasising the critical and constructive impulses within the genre: the ways in which artists have deployed cartography as a means with which to produce alternative geo-political visions or generate microcosms of omnipotence.

Supervision together with Esther Peeren.

Hongfei Liao

Filming Contemplation: a Deleuzian Perspective on East Asian Cinemas (2011-2015)

In view of the current studies on Gilles Deleuze and cinema, contemplation is an important term in Deleuze’s context but not yet highly theorized in cinema studies. Furthermore, East Asian cinemas are rarely chosen in Deleuzian cinema studies. Therefore, it is urgent to bridge this gap between Deleuze and East Asian cinemas.

From Difference and Repetition (1968) to What is Philosophy (1991), contemplation is created to depict the first synthesis of time, i.e., the living present. In contemplation, we contract to form our habits so that we can expect the future. Therefore, it contributes to the sense of self and subjective thinking. Following Deleuze’s approach to film and concept, my project will choose films respectively directed by Takeshi Kitano, Ki-duk Kim, Jia Zhang-ke, Wong Kar-wai and Tsai Ming-Liang who come from Japan, South Korea, mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. In those cases study, issues like family, identity, modernity, love and nostalgia will be involved into concrete analysis and discussion.

Supervision together with Patricia Pisters.

Completed PhD Projects

Melanie Schiller

Soundtracking Germany (2008-2014)

Germany is a nation with a particularly traumatic history, and discourses on Germanness are always infused with references to that collective past. In order to understand the workings and imaginations of national identity in conjunction with the issue of social memory, I want to investigate popular music representations and constructions of Germanness from 1945 till today, and analyse how changing notions of the past have morphed into a contemporary new German pride.

Supervision together with Jaap Kooijman.

Adiel Portugali

Marginal Sounds: The Story of Jazz in China – Music, Culture and Space in Contemporary China (2009-2014)

The research intends to unfold the story of jazz in China. The idea is to examine the current jazz scene in China as a case study of an off-center phenomenon, which takes place in the margins of its popular culture and music industry. The research aims to expose the insider’s view of the way jazz is experienced in China, that is to say, the view of the musicians and the individuals who introduced and are introducing it into China. The choice of jazz in this study is a consequence of (1) its specific history and current position in China; (2) the significant role it plays as a marginal musical style and phenomenon; (3) its unique cultural and spatial characteristics. Methodologically, the study is based on empirical-qualitative research methods, such as, in-depth interviews, regular and participatory observations, and on an interdisciplinary theoretical ground, which involves the fields of cultural, spatial, and ethnomusicology studies. Accordingly, by revealing the story of jazz in China the study aims to raise and develop the following key questions: What are the cultural, social and individual significances of jazz in China? Does Chinese jazz enclose unique spatial and cultural characteristics? And above all, what role does jazz in China plays today as an off-center musical and cultural scene?

Adiel Portugali is affiliated to the Department of East-Asian Studies, Tel-Aviv University, Israel, supervision together with Shahar Meir.

Leonie Schmidt

Visions of the future: imagining Islamic modernities in post-Suharto visual culture (2009-2014)

Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population and in the midst of modernization and Islamization. Indonesian Islamic visual culture both displays and constructs Islamic modernities. This is relatively recent, as expressions of religion in popular culture were banned during the Suharto regime (1965-1998). Now, in the post-Suharto era (1998-), Indonesia’s Muslim community takes advantage of the newly liberated public sphere to participate in public discourses related to the alleged path of modernity. Simultaneously, entrepreneurs instill cultural products with spiritual and economic value. The dialectics between a public Islamic revival and a commodification of Islam results in a booming Indonesian cultural sphere, that is a key site to experiment with Islamic modernities. This PhD project analyses how through practices of Indonesian visual and popular culture, Islamic modernities are imagined, negotiated and contested, while global modern urban Islamic futures in a post 9/11 world are projected. Case studies include Islamic rock music (videos), art, cinema, self-help books, urban space and shopping malls. [Link]

Supervision together with Pamela Pattynama.

Guohua Zeng

The Making of China: the Construction of Chineseness in the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics (2009-2013)

Although quite some academic works emphasize the importance of the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics in articulating an “ideal China”, few studies so far have scrutinized what was exactly constructed in the Opening Ceremony and how. I propose that the construction of the ideal China in the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympics both to the world and to the people inside China can arguably be summarized as a strategic construction of a “new” set of Chineseness. In this project, I examine how this new version of Chineseness was constructed and mediated in the context of the rise of China, and how it was perceived, responded, and contested in the media, with a focus on television, in Anglo-America (as examples of media in the global context), Hong Kong and Taiwan (as examples of regional media), and on the Internet in mainland China. With the examination, I reflect on the diversity and borderlines, as well as theoretical and practical limitations, of the concept of Chineseness in the globalized world. Finally, I call for new ways for Chinese identity construction and national image (or soft power) building, and more de-imperialized communication tactics and strategies between mainland China, and Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Western societies.

Supervision together with José van Dijck.

Gladys Pak Lei Chong

China Rejuvenated?: Governmentality, Subjectivity and Normativity. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (2007-2012)

This study of the Beijing Olympics moves beyond the narrowly construed idea of coercive or oppressive power to look at the broader ruling strategies that shape the behavior of individuals. The multifaceted strategies, tactics, and discourses deployed by the Chinese authorities sustain an order of things and values in such a way that it drives individuals to commit themselves actively to the goals of the party-state. This dissertation examines how this process of subjectification is achieved. In other words, I examine the processes under which individuals become self-directed subjects of their own and whereby they internalize state-defined norms/ideals in their belief to embrace the nation’s dream. In such processes of subjectification, media play a key role. A number of studies have highlighted the instrumentality of the media for the party-state as well as the centrality of new and old media to the Chinese population. In addition, through engaging with Foucaultian concepts and analyses, I also seek to reflect upon the questions of what China means for Foucault, what Foucault means for China, and what this interrogation adds to knowledge-production in China studies. In this research, I combine various qualitative research methods with theoretical insights. The five case studies are informed by theorists ranging from Walter Benjamin and Judith Butler to Michel Foucault and Ackbar Abbas. Meanwhile, my analysis draws upon ample empirical data I collected during my extensive fieldwork. [Link]

Supervision together with Stefan Landsberger.