- Tami Blumenfield, Anthropology, Furman University
- Christopher Reed Coggins, Geography and Asian Studies, Bard College at Simon’s Rock
- Laura Elder, Anthropology, St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame
- Zheya Gai, Political Science, Washington & Jefferson College
- Gao Hong, Music, Carleton College
- Abigail Jahiel, Environmental Studies and International Studies, llinois Wesleyan University
- Nick Kontogeorgopoulos, International Political Economy, University of Puget Sound
- Karil Kucera, Art and Asian Studies,St. Olaf College
- Qingjun (Joan) Li, Asian Studies and Chinese Language, Belmont University
- Wendy Singer, History, Kenyon College
- Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, Religious Studies, Colby College
- Anne Sokolsky, Comparative Literature, Ohio Wesleyan University
- Constantine N. Vaporis, History and Asian Studies, University of Maryland, Baltimore County
- Syed Rizwan Zamir, Religious Studies, Davidson College, NC
Tami Blumenfield, Ph.D.
“Collaborative Research and International Partnerships: Fostering Effective, Engaged Experiences for Faculty and Students”
“Environment and Ecology in Southwest China: No Simple Story”
“Perspectives from China’s Na Communities: Resilience, Change and Stability in a Tourism-Inflected Economy”
Christopher Reed Coggins, Ph.D.
Geography and Asian Studies
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
“God Mountains and Fengshui Forests: Spiritual Landscapes, Sacred Watersheds, and Nature Conservation in China”
“The Ecological State (Shēngtài Lìguó 生态立国) and Ecological Civilization (Shēngtài Wénmíng 生态文明): Who Will Rise to Meet China’s Global Environmental Challenge?”
“Rethinking the Environment, the Indigenous, and the Nation in the Chinese Anthropocene”
“China’s Village Fengshui Forests: Geographic Distribution, Sociocultural Features, Ecological Significance, and Conservation Prospects”
Chris is a Professor at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and director of the Geography and Asian Studies concentrations. His research focuses on rural China, political ecology, biodiversity, sacred landscapes, protected area management, and the social construction of nature, property, and personhood under colonialism and globalization. He is the co-editor (with Emily Yeh) of Mapping Shangrila: Contested Landscapes of the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands (University of Washington, 2014), and the author of The Tiger and the Pangolin: Nature, Culture, and Conservation in China (University of Hawaii Press, 2003) (runner-up for the 2003 Julian Steward Award for best book in environmental/ecological anthropology and nominated for the Kiriyama Prize in non-fiction). He is a co-author of The Primates of China: Biogeography and Conservation Status – Past, Present, and Future (China Forestry Publishing House, 2002). Chris has published refereed articles in many geography, environment, and Asia-related books and periodicals. Since 2011, he has led six international teams engaged in a multi-year, mixed methods, field and archival research project on the fengshui forests of southern and central China. With Professor Bixia Chen (University of the Ryukyus) and Professor Jesse Minor (University of Maine Farmington) he is co-authoring the first book in English on fengshui forests in Mainland China.
Laura Elder, Ph.D.
St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame
“Faith in Finance”
“Sex, Money, and Power”
“Capitalism and Islamic Derivatives”
Zheya Gai, Ph.D.
Washington & Jefferson College
“The Chinese Worldview Reconsidered”
“China in the Global Economy”
“China and Emerging Asia”
“Teaching Chinese Music in America”
“Chinese Traditional Instruments in Multicultural Performances”
“Concerti for Chinese Traditional Instruments and Western Symphony Orchestra”
“Chinese Traditional Music and Minority Music”
“Storytelling in Chinese Music”
“Modern Uses for Traditional Chinese Instruments”
“Contemporary Chinese Composers”
“Understanding China Through Music”
Gao Hong, Chinese pipa player and composer, began her career as a professional musician at age 12. She graduated from the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing where she studied with pipa master Lin Shicheng. She has received numerous awards and honors, including First Prize in the Hebei Professional Young Music Performers Competition, a Beijing Art Cup, an Asian Pacific Award, and fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Meet the Composer and Sorel Organization in New York. In 2005 Gao Hong became the first traditional musician to be awarded the prestigious Bush Artist Fellowship, and in 2012 she became the only musician in any genre to win four McKnight Artist Fellowships for Performing Musicians.
She has performed throughout Europe, Australia, Argentina, Japan, Hong Kong, China, and the United States, and has participated in the Lincoln Center Festival and San Francisco Jazz Festival, and in international festivals in Paris, Caen, Milan, and Perth. She has performed countless U.S. and world premieres of pipa concerti with organizations such as the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, Heidelberg Philharmonic, Buenos Aires Philharmonic, Louisville Orchestra, Hawaii Symphony, Pasadena Symphony, and the Women’s Philharmonic (San Francisco), among others. As a chamber player, she was featured as both pipa player and composer at ChamberFest Cleveland, Yellow Barn Music Festival, Carolina Chamber Music Festival, Harbin Summer Music Festival, Pittsburgh Early Music Festival and others. In 2017 she became the first Chinese musician to play the National Anthem at a Minnesota Timberwolves NBA game at Target Center in Minneapolis.
As a composer, Gao has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, Walker Art Center, the Jerome Foundation, Zeitgeist, Ragamala Dance Theater, Minneapolis Guitar Quartet, Theater Mu, IFTPA, and Twin Cities Public Television. Her composition for solo pipa, “Flying Dragon”, won the 2012 Global Music Award – Award of Excellence Solo Instrumental (Gold Medal).
In 2016, Gao Hong completed the first pipa method book ever written in English and had it published by Hal Leonard, the world’s largest music publishing company. She teaches Chinese musical instruments and directs the Carleton Chinese Music Ensemble and the Global Music Chamber Ensemble at Carleton College in Minnesota. She is also Guest Professor at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing, China Conservatory of Music, Tianjin Conservatory of Music, and Hebei Provincial School for the Arts.
China’s foremost music publication, “People’s Music,” wrote of Gao Hong that “like the famous Luoyang peony, she has gradually emerged as the best of all beautiful flowers…her performance has extremely strong artistic appeal and belongs under the category of ‘fine wine’…the more you listen, the more beautiful it gets…”
Gao Hong’s personal website can be found at: www.chinesepipa.com.
Abigail Jahiel, Ph.D.
Environmental Studies and International Studies
llinois Wesleyan University
“The Politics of Pollution: Understanding China’s Environmental Challenges”
“Changing Landscapes, Changing Tides: Trans-boundary Ecological and Social Impacts of Asian Development”
“Bringing Asia into Environmental Studies—and the Environment into Asian Studies”
Nick Kontogeorgopoulos, Ph.D.
International Political Economy
University of Puget Sound
“The Role of Tourism in Elephant Welfare in Thailand”
“Community-Based Tourism in Thailand: Opportunities and Limitations”
“Forays into the Backstage: Volunteer Tourism and the Pursuit of Authenticity in Thailand”
Karil Kucera, Ph.D. 古嘉慧
Luce Professor of Asian Visual Culture
Art and Asian Studies
St. Olaf College
“Varying Visions of Heaven and Hell: Lessons Learned at the Buddhist Site of Baodingshan”
“Preserving Pain, Promoting Peace: Modern Memorial Sites in Asia”
“We Get to Touch Stuff?! Using Museum Collections with Students”
“Collecting Asia: What Your Collection Says about Your Institution”
Dr. Karil Kucera’s research centers on sacred sites, with her most recently completed work focused on the cliff sculptures at the Buddhist cave site of Baodingshan in Sichuan province, Ritual and Representation in Chinese Buddhism: Visualizing Enlightenment at Baodingshan from the 12th to the 21st Century. Her current research project looks at sacred sites across Asia through a variety of theoretical lenses.
She has also developed an interest in material culture and teaching through experiential learning. Using materials from St Olaf College’s Flaten Art Museum, Dr. Kucera has worked with students to put on exhibitions related to Japanese and Chinese print culture, Chinese ceramics, the Chinese scholar’s studio and the Japanese tea ceremony.
Dr. Kucera has been actively involved in working with digital imaging issues and is a co-creator of a multimedia /multi-cultural Asian Studies multi-institutional database, the IDEAS project. IDEAS – an Image Database to Enhance Asian Studies – is available on the worldwide web at www.ideasproject.org. A major portion of the database is dedicated to Asian art and material culture found within ASIANetwork institutions – click here for a link to this collection.
Dr. Kucera has lived and traveled extensively throughout Asia, and currently serves as chair of the Asian Studies Department.
Qingjun (Joan) Li, Ph.D.
Asian Studies and Chinese Language
“China and the Chinese in American Literature and Film”
“Planning and Leading Short Term Study Abroad Trips to China”
“Building a Chinese Language Minor at Your College”
Wendy Singer, Ph.D.
“Indian Democracy and Global Politics: Diaspora, Culture, and Foreign Affairs”
“Representing the Underrepresented: India’s Policy of ‘Reservations’ and Positive Discrimination in a Comparative Context”
“From Women Politicians to Women’s Politics: Changing Histories of Elections in India”
Wendy Singer is an historian of modern India interested in elections, women in politics, and minority representation. She teaches at Kenyon College, where she is the Roy T. Wortman Distinguished Professor of History. Her most recent book, Independent India, is a textbook that integrates political, social, and cultural developments of the post 1947 period. Most recently, back from a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship in Chennai, she is working on a new book, “A Seat at the Table,” which will be a history of India’s policy of Reservations (often compared to affirmative action), which guarantees places in universities, jobs in government, and representation in Parliament for communities that have experienced discrimination in the past. This project expands on research that emerged from her earlier monograph, A Constituency Suitable for Ladies, a study of women in the history of Indian elections. Singer’s research into Indian politics, which began in the rural state of Bihar with oral histories of the peasant movement of the 1930s, has taken her to Delhi, Chennai, and Dharamsala, and also to Hong Kong, London, and Moscow. Both in her teaching and her scholarship she is committed to the diversity of narratives of the past, which emphasize the agency of people, who in their everyday lives have shaped historical change.
Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh
Chair of the Department & Crawford Family Professor
“Aesthetics: The Global Connection”
“Sacred Text, Human Quest: Asian Scriptures in the American classroom”
“Moving Beyond us vs. them: Hindu, Muslim, Sikh Poets from the Punjab”
“Mistaken Identity: Sikhs and their literature, music, art, film”
“Feminist Approach to the Study of Indian religions”
Dr. Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh is the Crawford Professor and chair of the department of Religious Studies at Colby College. Her interests focus on Asian Religions, feminist issues, and sacred art and poetry. Dr. Singh has published extensively in the field of Sikh studies. Her books include Of Sacred and Secular Desire: An Anthology of Lyrical Writings from the Punjab (IB Tauris 2012), Sikhism: An Introduction (IB Tauris 2011), Cosmic Symphony (Sahitya Akademy, 2008), Birth of the Khalsa (SUNY 2005), Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of the Transcendent (Cambridge University Press, 1993), Sikhism (Facts on File, translated into Japanese, 1993), and The Name of My Beloved (HarperCollins1995; Penguin 2001). She has authored almost 100 articles and chapters, and given more than 250 lectures nationally and internationally. Her views have also been aired on television and radio in America, Canada, England, Ireland, Australia, India, and Bangladesh. She has served on the editorial board of several journals including the History of Religions, the Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and Sikh Formations. She came to America to attend a girls’ prep school in Virginia, got her BA from Wellesley College, MA from University of Pennsylvania, and PhD from Temple University.
Anne Sokolsky, Ph.D.
Ohio Wesleyan University
“Myths of the “Orient” — Or Why I teach Asian Literature and Culture”
”My Self in Two Languages (Moroccan Arabic and Japanese)”
“Writing a Memoir about My Grandfather’s Life in China”
“Writing on the Margins – Colonial Taiwanese Literature Written by Taiwanese Women”
Constantine N. Vaporis, Ph.D
History and Asian Studies
University of Maryland, Baltimore County
“The Edo Man and the Satsuma Sweet Potato. Early Modern Travel through a Japanese Prism”
“Writing the History of the Samurai”
“Performance, Display, and the Spectacular: The ‘Great Peace’ and Samurai Culture in Tokugawa Japan”
“Revolutionary, Terrorist, or ‘Spiritual Father’ of Modern Japan? Yoshida Shôin (1830-59), as Seen through His Memory Landscape”
Syed Rizwan Zamir, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Davidson College, NC
“Sufi Mediation of the Sunni-Shiite Divide”
“Ecology in Contemporary Muslim Thought”
“Wheresoever You Turn…: The Orienting Tale of all That’s Islamic”
“Make me die a Muslim: Islamic Perspectives on Death, Dying and the Afterlife”
“Whence comes then this song of the Friend: Encountering Rumi and His Interpreters”
In 2010 Syed Rizwan Zamir joined Davidson College to teach introductory and advanced courses in the area of Islamic studies. As years have passed, his interests have expanded, even bifurcated: deliberations upon humanities, humanity, and being human (i.e., what does it mean to be human?) has led him to reimagine the study of Islam within a Western liberal arts institutional setting, and engage the Humanities and South Asian Studies programs. So far at Davidson College he has taught 11 Islamic studies courses that range from overviews of Islam to specialized topics such as mystical life and thought, comparative study of Sunni and Shiite traditions, eschatology, literary texts, “Islam in America” and encounters of Islamic civilization with Western modernity. He has also taught 4 Religious studies courses that include history, theory and methods in the western academic study of religion, writings of CS Lewis, and comparative study of art across religious traditions. He was part of the Humanities program at Davidson for the year 2017-2018, and lead two independent studies on Punjab and Pakistan.
Author of journal articles, book chapters, encyclopedia entries and book reviews, Dr. Zamir is currently “brewing” multiple book-projects. These include an overview of Islamic Ethical Life and Practice; a thorough revision of his PhD dissertation on a seminal and prolific religious figure from Shiite South Asia (Sayyed ‘Ali Naqi al-Naqvi, d. 1988); a volume on the convergences and divergences among Sunni, Sufi and Shiite traditions; and two edited volumes 1) reflecting on the battle of Karbala and life and martyrdom of Imam Husayn; and 2) Sufism’s role in mediating Sunni and Shiite Divide.
He was co-chair of the Islam Section of the Southeast Region of the American Academy of Religion (SECSOR), served on the board of the Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Seminar (SERMEISS) and is currently Vice President-Elect of SECSOR, on the Board of the Society for the Study of Muslim Ethics (SSME), and on the international advisory board of journals Islamic Studies and Bayan al-Hikma.