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The 2024 Troost Prize Goes to...

APSI is pleased to announce the winners of the 2024 Kristina Troost Prize for an undergraduate project in East Asian Studies: Kaitlyn Choe, Diego Ge, Rachel Hendrix, and Alex Niang for “0% Art, 100% Life: Faces and Experiences of the Great Famine.”

About the project

This project was completed for Professor Nicole Barnes' "China Since 1949" seminar. The project is a high school curriculum consisting of a website and 75-page workbook that draws on the Memory Project oral history film collection, housed at the Duke University Libraries, documenting survivors of the Great Leap Forward Famine (1958-62) which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 36 million people.

Describing their project, the group explained that, through the seminar, “our team has explored the Great Famine through oral histories, visual archives from the Rubenstein Library, and the limited secondary literature available on the famine. We have also studied the power of oral testimony in recording history, examining how memory is constructed and reconstructed over time, and what it means to bear witness to one’s struggles.” They further explained that their vision was “to expand upon the IB curriculum’s teachings of the Great Leap Forward to create our own high school curriculum, focusing primarily on the famine and incorporating an introduction into oral history as an historical methodology.

By making this information more accessible to high school students, we will amplify the incredible survival stories we have encountered over the course of our project, and hopefully make the lives of high school teachers a little easier in the process. In our curriculum, we explore famine experiences across four different Chinese provinces, varying in famine conditions and impact. We provide lecture notes, worksheets, and answer keys for easy teacher access. Throughout the project, we have remained steadfast in our mission to expose the truth of the famine, insert the voices of the survivors into the annals of history, and develop the skills of future Chinese studies scholars.”

As Professor Barnes noted, the group's project “utilizes a precious database from Duke Libraries and elevates it to the attention of high school teachers and students.” She also observed that the team “created a diversity that would resonate with students of a variety of levels, degrees of interest, and learning styles.”

About the award

Each year, an APSI faculty committee selects an outstanding project from among the nominees to receive this award in the spring semester. The project can be in nearly any form, including a substantial paper, visual art, film, or digital production. The prize was endowed in 2020 to honor Dr. Kristina Kade Troost, who had a distinguished career spanning 30 years at Duke. A historian by training, Dr. Troost was Duke’s first Japanese Studies Librarian and headed the International and Area Studies Department in the Library for 20 years. She also served as the much-beloved Director of Graduate Studies for the MA program in East Asian Studies at Duke and continues to be actively involved in the Triangle Forum for Japanese Studies. Through her various roles, Dr. Troost made invaluable contributions to East Asian Studies at Duke and beyond.