Meanings, Identities, and Communities Cluster

The CSCC “Meanings, Identities, and Communities” cluster seeks to provide affiliated faculty with a supportive space for integrated and interdisciplinary research on China while at the same time building links with the broader community and serving as a bridge between humanities and interpretive social science scholars based in mainland China and the rest of the world. We have several interconnected goals: build a supportive community among cluster members; facilitate faculty research; model the academic research process for our students; and assist faculty—and the university more broadly—in creating a bridge between DKU and the local community and other scholars in China. In five years, we would want to be known as a funder for small-scale events relevant to our theme. We will have facilitated events that allow faculty to workshop draft versions of their papers. We will have become a tight and supportive community, a safe space to talk about research, teaching, and the unique challenges of doing these activities in China.

Cluster Leads

Megan Rogers

Megan Rogers is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Duke Kunshan University. Her research focuses on religion in contemporary China, and she has a particular interest in the intersection of religion and social inequality. She has conducted extensive qualitative fieldwork in China, including as a Fulbright fellow in Suzhou in 2015 and 2016). Her teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include sociology, culture and movements, religion, and China studies.
Rogers has bachelor's degrees in international studies and Chinese from the University of Mississippi, an M.A. in Chinese from the Ohio State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Notre Dame. Before joining Duke Kunshan, she was a postdoctoral research fellow with the Global Religion Research Initiative, University of Notre Dame.

Ben Van Overmeire

Ben Van Overmeire is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Duke Kunshan University. His research focuses on the study of Zen Buddhist texts. His teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include ethics and leadership, global China studies, religion and literature.
Van Overmeire has a B.A. (cum laude) and M.A. (summa cum laude) in Germanic languages and literatures from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium; an M.A. in American studies (magna cum laude) from the University of Antwerp, Belgium; an M.A. in comparative literature (magna cum laude) from the State University of New York, Stony Brook; and a Ph.D. in literature from the University of California, San Diego. In 2016-17, he was a visiting assistant professor of religion at St. Olaf College. He is also a postdoctoral fellow of the Research Foundation Flanders at Ghent University, Belgium.

Keping Wu

Keping Wu is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Duke Kunshan University. Her research focus is the intersection among religion, gender, urbanization, public good, ethnicity, and charisma. She is especially interested in how people cross religious, ethnic, rural-urban and other boundaries. Her teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include ethnography of China, ethnicity and diversity, and urbanization and changing religious landscapes.
She is the editor (with Robert Weller) of "It Happens Among People: Resonances and Extensions of the Work of Fredrik Barth" (Berghahn 2019) and the co-author (with Robert Weller, C. Julia Huang-Lemmon and Lizhu Fan 2019) of "Religion and Charity: The Social Life of Goodness in Chinese Societies" (Cambridge University Press, 2017). She has had papers published in leading academic journals including Current Anthropology, Modern China and Journal of Asian Studies. She has been a member of the American Anthropological Association and Association of Asian Studies since 2006.
Wu has a B.A. from Peking University and a Ph.D. from Boston University. Before joining Duke Kunshan, she taught at Xi'an Jiaotong-Liverpool University, Sun Yat-sen University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Cluster Members

Andrew Field

Andrew Field is an Associate Professor of Chinese History, Duke Kunshan University. Dr. Field (B.A. Dartmouth College, Ph.D. Columbia University) is a specialist in Chinese and East Asian languages, cultures, and history, with an expertise in the history of Shanghai. He teaches courses on Ancient Chinese History and Thought, Shanghai History, Modern Chinese History, and special courses on "Sounds in the City: Live Music Scenes in China" and "Documenting City Life." He is the author of three books, Shanghai's Dancing World: Cabaret Culture and Urban Politics (2010), Mu Shiying: China's Lost Modernist (2014) and Shanghai Nightscapes: A Nocturnal Biography of a Global City (co-authored with James Farrer, 2015).

Kim Hunter Gordon

Kim Hunter Gordon is an Assistant Professor of Chinese and Performance Studies at Duke Kunshan University, where he teaches media studies, translation and pre-modern Chinese history. He is currently Coordinator for the Media and Arts Major. Earning his PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2017, he studied the sheng role under Qian Zhenrong at the Jiangsu Kunju Theatre and qu singing practice with Xie Yufeng at Nanjing University. He is the current translator for the Jiangsu troupe and regularly sings on the avocational kunqu circuit in China and beyond. His research examines the historiography of kunqu and the dynamics of embodied practice and digital archival culture. Prior to his doctorate, he worked as a journalist in China and the UK at The Observer, The Scotsman and at two startup media ventures. He has also written, edited and project-managed a series of local historical guidebooks in China.

Wenting Ji

Wenting Ji is an Assistant professor of Chinese language, Duke Kunshan University. Her research focuses on late imperial/early modern (16th to 19th century) Chinese literature, exploring how literati and gentry women reconciled the relationship between self and the world and constructed identities through their writings of sensory experiences. She is especially interested in the representations of senses in underrepresented genres like tanci (plucking rhymes), xiaopin (vignette), and yiyu (reminiscent words). Her teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include advanced-level Chinese language, classical Chinese, early modern Chinese literature, and Jiangnan culture.

Sajida Tuxun

Sajida Tuxun is a Lecturer of Cultural Anthropology, Duke Kunshan University. Tuxun’s research covers topics of food and globalization, gender and ethnicity, migration and mobility, with a particular focus on urban China. Through the lens of food anthropology, her research delves into the intersection of food, ethics and consumerism in the context of urbanization and globalization. Her teaching interests at Duke Kunshan encompass cultural anthropology, global China studies, food and globalization, migration and ethics.

Qian Zhu

Qian Zhu is an Assistant Professor of History, Duke Kunshan University. Her research focuses on modern Chinese history and China's current global challenges. Her first project is a comparative and transnational inquiry of intellectual and cultural history focused on Chinese leftism and anti-colonialism in Southeast Asia from 1938 to 1948. She has a second project on feminism and everyday life in post-socialist China, which focuses on feminism in entrepreneurship, reproductive labor, and social welfare. Her teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include global China studies and Chinese history, as well areas related to global health, gender and sexuality, and media and art.

Nellie Chu

Nellie Chu is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Duke Kunshan University. Her research focuses on global supply chains in fashion and the transnational role of migrant entrepreneurs. She has a project on West African and Korean religious communities related to the doctrine of prosperity based in Guangzhou, China. Her teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include cultures and movements, global China studies and cultural anthropology.

Mengqi Wang

Mengqi Wang is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Duke Kunshan University. Her research focuses on economic anthropology and how home ownership and property relations implicate and structure state power, capitalism and everyday life in post-socialist China, as well as among overseas Chinese. Her teaching interests at Duke Kunshan include cultures and movements, global China studies, urban studies and cultural anthropology.

Student Coordinator

Zu (Zuo Rui) Gan

I am Zu, from the Class of 2025, majoring in Global Cultural Studies - World History. I am interested in the subjective and complex feelings humans experience and live through. I think the meanings, identities, and communities we create for ourselves are crucial aspects of being human.

Current Student Members

  • Trailokaya Bajgain
  • Weiran Dong
  • Nino Nadirashvili
  • Chutian Chen
  • Rittik Barua
  • Eyer Ding
  • Rhayssa dos Santos Braz
  • Stephanie Li
  • Sierra Liu
  • Hang Luong
  • Lingyi Shen
  • Leiyuan Tian
  • Shuzhe Wang
  • Zezhen Wang
  • Wenjing Xu

Main Projects and Research Topics

  • Ben Van Overmeire. Astroreligion: The Religious Imagination of Space Travel in Space Opera and Astronaut Memoir written in English and Chinese, 1961-present.  
  • Keping Wu. Care and Mental Health of Elderly in China
  • Megan Rogers. Cultural Diffusion in Online Spaces
  • Megan Rogers. Faiths and Fortune: Religion and the Professional Middle Class in Urban China
  • Kim Hunter Gordon. Performing the Present: Reading the Contemporary in Classical Kunqu
  • Kim Hunter Gordon. Sound, Sight, and Ceremony: Boundary Play in Chinese Performance Space
  • Ben Van Overmeire. Zen and the Art of Detection.