From the APSI Director

最重要的一点是,作者在他的著述里贯穿了一种方法论:在考虑话语—主体—制度这三者对历史的建构时应该加入许多外来事物和偶然因素,因为参与主体和主体性构成的不仅有话语,还有外来事物;而由主体构建的制度还应包括制度本身的逻辑和偶然性 。

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Prasenjit Duara
Prasenjit Duara
Oscar Tang Family Distinguished Professor, Department of History

During my first full year as Director of the Asian/Pacific Studies Institute (APSI), I have found immense satisfaction in collaborating with an exceptional team of staff members, a conscientious executive, and, as I like to say, ‘learnful’ students in our Master's cohort. Within the institute, we extended a warm welcome to Heidi Rodeffer, our new staff member, and Jieun Cho, our postdoctoral fellow.

In addition to our Speaker Series, addressing relevant themes within the APSI community, we successfully hosted the popular East Asian film series, drawing enthusiastic participation from both within the university and the broader community. We also embarked on several innovative projects that engaged the wider university community.

One notable initiative was a collaborative program with the Middle Eastern Studies Center, featuring Peter Hessler, a distinguished journalist specializing in China and the Middle East, who conducted discussions and was interviewed by renowned China podcaster Kaiser Kuo. Another milestone was the launch of our Environmental and Climate Change project and the associated website, APSI and the Environment, which aligns with the sustainability efforts outlined in the Duke Climate Commitment.

Under the leadership of Jieun Cho, we organized a symposium titled The Politics of Dwelling in the Anthropocene, convening a selective group of Duke and non-Duke researchers to dive into this timely theme. A significant focus for this year was the initiation of a collaborative project seeking to bring together APSI scholars with Asian researchers on pertinent environmental issues. We are building the APSI Environmental Futures in Asia Network, including a series of annual workshops to fostering knowledge exchange and collaboration. The inaugural workshop is scheduled to take place at Jeju National University in South Korea in July 2024.


By the numbers

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Funding for students

APSI offers multiple funding opportunities to support students engaged in collaborative as well as individual research, supplement travel expenses to present at conferences, and recognize merit through academic-year scholarships.

This support has enabled students to pursue a wide range of academic objectives and led to departmental as well as national awards for students such as Huiyin Zhou (Trinity '24), who received the Paul Farmer Award for Justice and Social Responsibility as well as the Benenson Award, and Cole Walker (Trinity '23), who was named a 2023-24 Schwarzman Scholar.

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Academic year scholarships

During the academic year, APSI supports high-achieving undergraduates and graduate students through competitive scholarship awards.

Students enrolled in the Master of Arts in East Asian Studies (EAS-MA) program are eligible to receive merit-based fellowships supporting the first and second year of their studies. Second-year fellowship recipients have demonstrated academic achievement during the first year of their program and are endorsed by Duke faculty.

The Sirena WuDunn Memorial Scholarship is given annually to the students(s) who best embody the ideals of Sirena WuDunn, a member of the class of '84 majoring in computer science who was aboard Korean Airlines flight 007 when it was shot down by Soviet fighters in 1983.

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Supporting faculty

Duke faculty receive support for Asia-focused research clusters, course development grants, research project grants, presentation travel, and conference hosting. APSI also supports all faculty at Duke through library grants that fund purchase of essential reference materials, database access, and subscriptions.

In 2023-24, research clusters included:

  • Archival Research for East Asian Studies 
  • Digital Asia Research
  • East Asian Language Pedagogy Research
  • East Asian Religions Research

APSI students

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APSI offers comprehensive coverage of East Asian politics, societies, history, and cultures, with particular strengths in literature; modern history; comparative history and culture; anthropology; film, media and visual studies; comparative studies of capitalism; and religious studies.

The MA in East Asian Studies provides rigorous interdisciplinary training for students seeking careers in academia or professional fields that require regional specialization. The program introduces key area studies methodologies while providing flexibility for students to specialize in specific modes of inquiry.

Students enrolled in any of Duke’s graduate degree programs may document their area specialization by earning a certificate in East Asian Studies. Certificate students are integral members of our scholarly community.

A note from our Director of Graduate Studies

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Eileen Cheng-yin Chow
Eileen Cheng-yin Chow 周成蔭, Associate Professor of the Practice in Chinese and Japanese Cultural Studies

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There is nothing easy about being a graduate student. Whether you thought this was going to be a walk in the park, or whether you thought this was going to be insurmountable, this program can be a culture shock and a linguistic shock.

We are grateful for the faculty. APSI is not a department, it is a program. All of the APSI-affiliated faculty and scholars are stalwart supporters of our students and go above and beyond to contribute to their success.

I am proud of each and every one of our students.

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Two Duke students, David Junquan Zong (EAS-MA '24) and Danni Xu (CAH-MA '24), spent a semester abroad in Japan through the Meiji University Exchange Program.

Read about their experiences
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For the second year in a row, students from Duke University attended the annual meeting of the Southeast Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (SEC-AAS). Six second-year EAS-MA students presented their work on five different panels.

Learn about their trip
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Graduates of the MA in East Asian Studies program at Duke are talented individuals who take the research and analytical skills they hone during their time at Duke into academic and professional careers. This alumni spotlight focuses on Jackson Herndon (EAS-MA '24) who was accepted as a PhD student in history at NYU and is the first Blakemore Freeman Fellow selected from Duke University in over 10 years.

Get to know Jackson Herndon, EAS-MA '24

APSI faculty

APSI faculty are interdisciplinary scholars who are experts in the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, history, art history, language, law, literature, performing arts, political science, policy, religion, and sociology. They teach graduate and undergraduate courses, engage in collaborative research, and mentor students in APSI’s MA in East Asian Studies program.

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APSI faculty are interdisciplinary scholars who are experts in the fields of anthropology, cultural studies, history, art history, language, law, literature, performing arts, political science, policy, religion, and sociology. They teach graduate and undergraduate courses, engage in collaborative research, and mentor students in APSI’s MA in East Asian Studies program.

Meet APSI's 2023-24 Postdoctoral Associate

Jieun Cho: APSI Postdoctoral Associate

In this interview, Dr. Jieun Cho delves into her current work and discusses the joy she has found in the scenery around Durham.

Dr. Cho earned her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from Duke University, specializing in gender, environment, and disaster. As a postdoctoral scholar at APSI, she seeks to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on social reproduction, toxic ecologies, and environmental futures from the perspective of post-Cold War East Asia.

Collaborative Gallery Exhibits

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October–November 2023: “Hilabana: Espasyo Temporal” + Mural Project

Filipina street muralist Venazir Martinez visited Duke's campus for the opening of an exhibition in the John Hope Franklin Center art gallery featuring selections from her work. The event was part of a celebration of Filipino American History Month, co-sponsored by APSI, the John Hope Franklin Center, and the Asian American & Diaspora Studies (AADS) program with support from Duke Pamilya.

Read about her visit

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April - June 2024: Celebrating the Life and Work of Corky Lee

For over 50 years, Corky Lee photographed the daily life of Asian Americans alongside chronicling their participation in movements for social justice. On April 11, after a conversation between Eileen Chow and Columbia University historian Mae Ngai, the audience moved downstairs for the opening of an exhibition of 15 of Lee’s prints, sponsored by APSI and the John Hope Franklin Center.

Read about the exhibit

Event highlights

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Uncovering connections across cultures, Peter Hessler engages communities at Duke

In a two-day residency at Duke (Nov. 9-10, 2023), internationally-renowned journalist and author Peter Hessler provided insightful comparisons of human connections across histories and cultures while elucidating his singular method of finding the story.

The events, which included a public keynote, a writing workshop, and a live taping of the Sinica Podcast, were organized and co-sponsored by APSI and the Duke Middle East Studies Center (DUMESC).

Read about Hessler's residency

December 7-9: SEAREG winter conference

Established in 2013, the Southeast Asia Research Group (SEAREG) highlights the best new research by young social scientists working on Southeast Asian politics and fosters a network of scholars in political science and allied disciplines who are working at the forefront of Southeast Asian studies. APSI has supported SEAREG since its first meeting; a founder of SEAREG and the current chair of the SEAREG executive council is Eddy Malesky, a professor of political science, APSI faculty member, and director of the Duke Center for International Development. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of SEAREG, the winter conference was held at Duke University, the site of its first meeting. APSI director Prasenjit Duara gave the “State of the Region” keynote talk.

April 20: EAS-CAH Workshop—“Digital Asia”

APSI collaborated with faculty and staff in the AMES department to organize a daylong workshop focused on the theme of “Digital Asia.” Keynote speakers Florian Schneider (Universiteit Leiden) and Lisa Nakamura (University of Michigan) engaged students and faculty representing a range of academic disciplines through a combination of keynote lectures and breakout sessions. First-year EAS and CAH graduate students were also invited to share their research during a student panel moderated by Ralph Litzinger (Cultural Anthropology).


April 25-26: Politics of Dwelling in the Anthropocene symposium

This symposium, organized by APSI Postdoctoral Associate Jieun Cho, fostered a critical examination of dwelling and place, considering the evolving geo-social realities of our time. Scholars from across the U.S. with expertise in multiple academic disciplines and deep knowledge of several countries gathered at Duke University to explore two vital questions:

  • How do anthropogenic activities both jeopardize and constitute the very grounds of our coexistence?
  • How do people navigate complex landscapes amidst global realities of unsettling disparities, contested sovereignties, and deteriorating environments?

Participants included geographers, anthropologists, and historians with expertise across China, India, Japan, Tibet, Korea, and the US; student contributions and questions were welcomed by the more senior scholars. Through interdisciplinary dialogue, the symposium tapped into the transformative potential of redescribing landscapes as dwelling places—a pivotal move towards creating alternative conceptual frameworks, generating political affects, and rediscovering overlooked historical narratives.

May 9: Commencment

On May 9, 2024, together with faculty, family members, and friends, seven students from the EAS-MA program celebrated the conclusion of their degree program.

Some of our newest alumni are headed to professional careers, while others will continue pursuing further education in PhD programs around the world. All are remarkably talented and dynamic individuals who formed a unique and lifelong bond during their time at Duke. We look forward to seeing where their talents take them next.

Film Screenings


Serious fun

Several times each semester, APSI sponsors (and co-sponsors) screenings of films that are relevant to Asian studies—including popular cinematic movies from the region as well as documentaries related to issues of concern—enabling members of our community to engage with faculty and subject matter experts as well as one another.