Speakers Bureau List (2019-2021)

Christopher Reed Coggins, Ph.D.
Geography and Asian Studies
Bard College at Simon’s Rock

Speech Titles
“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.

elderLaura Elder, Ph.D.
St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame

Speech Titles
“Faith in Finance”
“Sex, Money, and Power”
“Capitalism and Islamic Derivatives”

Dr. Laura Elder recently returned to the Department of Global Studies at Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame after six months as a Fulbright Research Fellow in the Department of Sharia and Law at the University of Malaya. Trained in cultural anthropology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York, her primary research interests are global political economy, Islam, and gender in Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa. She has always been fascinated by the dynamic interplay between cultures and economies. And, during her graduate studies, she became riveted by the alignment of sex, money, and power in global economic governance. Combining these interests, she has conducted fieldwork in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Qatar, and Singapore. For example, she explored the importance and race and class in patterns of networking and capital accumulation among Asian hedge fund managers. Currently she is analyzing the power of global elites in shaping ethics and practice in international financial regimes. She is also completing a book, Faith in Finance: Muslim Women Re-making Financial Worlds, a comparative analysis of the promotion of women’s expertise in the Islamic financial services in Southeast Asian and Gulf Cooperation Council countries.

Jack Dash Harris
Hobart And William Smith Colleges

Speech Titles
“Rice and Noodles: Extramarital Relationships, Masculinity, and Gender Relations in Vietnam”
“Cooking Up Culinary Nationalism in Vietnam: Is There a Vietnamese National Cuisine?”
“Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: What is the Vietnamese Future?”
“After Communism and Capitalism: What Is Left of Traditional Vietnam?”
“Amoral Familism: The Challenges for Civil Society in Vietnam”
‘Teaching About Vietnam: In the Classroom and Abroad”

Jack Harris is a tenured Professor of Sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, NY. He holds a Doctoral and Masters degree in Sociology. Harris served on the board of the ASIANetwork, as its co-director of the ASIANetwork Service Learning and Environment in Asia Program (ANSLEAP), directed the ASIANetwork-Mellon Foundation Faculty Enhancement Program (ANFEP) to Vietnam, and currently serves as an ASIANetwork development officer.

Harris concentrates on understanding Vietnam’s society and culture, including publishing on Vietnamese masculinity, Vietnamese food, and social and cultural change in Vietnam. His current work seeks to understand the Vietnamese concept of the future, and how the Vietnamese are imagining and managing the future as a unified nation and at peace. Harris teaches a course on the Sociology of Vietnam. He has directed the Colleges’ Vietnam off-campus study program, leading the Vietnam off-campus program in 1997 and 2012, and leading four faculty study tours and three alumni study tours to Vietnam, most recently in 2017. He supported faculty development efforts to build and sustain the program by co-directing a federal Title VI grant in infusion of Vietnamese materials into the curriculum. He was the recipient of the ASIANetwork-Freeman Student-Faculty Fellows Award in 2003, and the recipient of the 2005-2006 Liberal Arts College Faculty Exchange Program Award from the American Council of Learned Societies and Luce Foundation where he served as an Exchange Scholar in Vietnam. He has developed a critical food studies summer program in Vietnam in collaboration with GustoLab of Rome, Italy.

In addition to his HWS study abroad experience, Harris served as the Core Director for Semester at Sea, as a Visiting Lecturer at Japan Center for Michigan Universities, Hikone, Japan, and has been a regular presenter and respondent at the International Conference on Vietnamese Studies, Hanoi, Vietnam. He was twice President of the New York State Sociological Association.

As an applied sociologist, Jack consults to local governments on business process reengineering and organizational change management. He has assisted in organizational analysis and design, leadership and management training and staff development, employee motivation, group dynamics and team building, conflict management and resolution, and the analysis of workplace culture.

Gao Hong
Carleton College

Speech Titles
“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.

kontogeorgopolousNick Kontogeorgopoulos, Ph.D.
International Political Economy
University of Puget Sound

Speech Titles
“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”

Nick earned his BA degree in International Studies as a Morehead Scholar at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and earned his graduate degrees in Geography at the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia. Nick’s current teaching interests include the political economy of international tourism, international development, and the political economy of Southeast Asia. His research interests center on the relationship between tourism, environmental sustainability, and personal values. Nick has conducted research in southern Thailand on the impact of ecotourism on community development, the spatial and temporal relationship between ecotourism and mass tourism, and motivational and behavioral differences between ecotourists and mass tourists. Nick has also published research on the role of tourism in elephant conservation in northern Thailand, and the relationship between volunteer tourism and development in Thailand.

Karil Kucera, Ph.D. 古嘉慧
Luce Professor of Asian Visual Culture
Art and Asian Studies
St. Olaf College

Speech Titles
“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 Li Professor of Asian Studies and Chinese Language Belmont University

Qingjun (Joan) Li, Ph.D.
Asian Studies and Chinese Language
Belmont University

Speech Titles
“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”

Qingjun (Joan) Li is Assistant Professor of Asian Studies and Chinese Language. She was named 2014-2015 Virginia M. Chaney Distinguished Professor at Belmont University. She holds a Ph. D. in English from Middle Tennessee State University. Prior to coming to the U.S., she was Associate Professor of English at Zhengzhou University (China), where she was twice recognized as University Teacher of Excellence. She is author of three books and co-editor of Encountering China: Early Modern European Responses (Bucknell, 2012). Her most recent articles include, “Oriental Light Shining in Western Darkness: Thoreau’s Use of The Mengzi in Walden,” in Proceedings of the 2014 International Conference on Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences; and “Of Golden Lilies and Gentlewomen: Constructions of Chinese Women in Early Modern Anglo-European Travel Narratives,” in Encountering China. She was a recipient of an ASIANetwork Freeman Student-Faculty Research Fellowship grant to lead four students’ research on “The Commodification of Culture in China’s New Cultural Industry” in the summer of 2014. Her recent students have received Chinese Government Scholarships, Hanban Confucius Institute Scholarship and the U.S. Critical Language Scholarships. She has served as Co-Director for Belmont’s China study abroad programs for nine years, having taken over 200 students to China.

Wayne Patterson
St. Norbert College

Speech Titles
“China’s informal imperialism toward Korea in the 1880s”
“The early immigration of Koreans to the United States, 1900-1910”
“Picture brides and the formation of the Korean American community, 1910-1924”
“First- and second-generation Koreans and their interactions with Caucasians and Japanese, 1903-1945”

Wayne Patterson received his undergraduate degree in History from Swarthmore College and his graduate degrees (two MAs and a PhD) in History and International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania.  He has taught modern East Asian history at St. Norbert College for more than four decades.  He has also been a visiting professor at a number of universities.  In the United States, they include Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California at Berkeley, Vanderbilt University, the University of South Carolina, the University of Chicago, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He has also been a visiting professor abroad, including two as a Fulbrighter.  In Korea, that includes Korea University, Yonsei University, Ewha University, Sogang University, and Chonnam National University.  He has also been a visiting professor at the University of the Philippines-Diliman and, most recently, at Hang Seng University in Hong Kong.  His books include:  The Korean Frontier in America:  Immigration to Hawaii, 1896-1910The IlseFirst-Generation Korean Immigrants in Hawaii, 1903-1973In the Service of His Korean Majesty:  William Nelson Lovatt, the Pusan Customs, and Sino-Korean Relations, 1876-1888William Nelson Lovatt in Late Qing China:  War, Maritime Customs, and Treaty Ports, 1860-1904;  and At the Deathbed of Empire:  William Franklin Sands in Late Choson Korea, 1896-1904 (forthcoming).

Jeff Snyder-Reinke
The College of Idaho

Speech Titles
“Bones, Babies, and the Politics of Burial in Late Imperial China”
“Afterlives of the Dead: Uncovering Graves and Mishandling Corpses in Qing Law and Society.”
“Religion and State in Modern China”
“Style and Efficacy in Qing Rainmaking”

Jeff specializes in the social and cultural history of late imperial China. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, where he specialized in the study of modern Chinese history and East Asian religions. His dissertation research was conducted at the Institute for Qing History in Beijing while on a Fulbright Fellowship. Out of this research came his first book, Dry Spells: State Rainmaking and Local Governance in Late Imperial China, which was published by Harvard in 2009. He is currently working on a book manuscript on infant burial in late imperial China. Professor Snyder-Reinke teaches courses on variety of topics in Asian history, including Modern China, Modern Japan, Modern Tibet, Southeast Asia, and Chinese Religions. In addition, he periodically leads student tours to China and Southeast Asia. When he is not teaching or doing research, he spends his time trail running, skiing, climbing mountains, and taking care of his twin boys, Rhodes and Ike.

singerWendy Singer, Ph.D.
Kenyon College

Speech Titles
“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
Religious Studies
Colby College

Speech Titles
“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.

sokolskyAnne Sokolsky, Ph.D.
Comparative Literature
Ohio Wesleyan University

Speech Titles
“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”

Anne Sokolsky holds a Ph.D. (2003) in Japanese from the University of California, Berkeley with a sub-specialty in Gender Studies. She is an Associate Professor of East Asian Literatures and Chair of the Comparative Literature Department at Ohio Wesleyan University. Her recent book From New Woman Writer to Socialist: The Life and Selected Writings of Tamura Toshiko from 1936-1938 (Brill 2015) is a collection of translations of the stories Tamura Toshiko (1894-1945) wrote based on her experiences as a Japanese national living in Vancouver and Los Angeles in the early 1900s. Most scholarship on Tamura focuses on her early writing career and her impact on women’s consciousness in Japan at the turn of the 20th century. Tamura’s perspective as a Japanese citizen writing about the experiences of Issei and Nisei in North America has been, until recently, one of the most understudied aspects of her life. Sokolsky’s current research focuses on colonial Taiwanese literature written in Japanese during Japan’s rule of Taiwan from 1895-1945. Sokolsky is analyzing the significance of the journal Taiwan fujinkai (The world of Taiwanese women) in Japan’s colonial process. Another project is a memoir/biography about her grandfather George E. Sokolsky who was a journalist in China from 1918-1931 and worked for Sun Yat-sen.

Patricia Welch
Japanese and Comparative Literature
Hofstra University

Speech Titles
“Trumping 1Q84/Nineteen Eighty-Four? Reading Murakami and Orwell in a Dystopian Era”
“Questing for Color: Tsukuru Tazaki’s Pilgrimage in the Context of Murakami Haruki’s Work”
“Responsible Dreaming: Dreamscapes and Trauma Response in Murakami Haruki’s Kafka on the Shore.”
“Rakugo: Japanese Art of the Spoken Word”
“Acts Like a Girl: Gender Performativity in Rakugo”
“Edogawa Ranpo’s ‘The Caterpillar’ and the Modern Body Politic”
“Deathly Decisions: Elective Ill-health in The Tale of Genji
“Reassessing Lafcadio Hearn: Meiji Japan’s Exote Observer”

Patricia Welch teaches Japanese language and literature and comparative literature at Hofstra University and is director of the Asian Studies Program. Recent literature classes include Tokyo in literature and film; literature of mystery and suspense; The Tale of Genji; as well as Japanese language courses on all levels. Recent publications include “Responsible Dreaming: Dreamscapes and Trauma Response in Murakami Haruki’s Kafka on the Shore,” “Excess, Alienation and Ambivalence: Edogawa Rampo’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination,” and “A Consideration of Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life” (which was also translated into Vietnamese). With Mari Fujimoto, she is the author of NipponGO! An Introduction to Elementary Modern Japanese Language. In addition, she is on the executive board of the New York Conference on Asian Studies (NYCAS). She received her A.M. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. She is the recipient of numerous scholarships, including a Fulbright Research Fellowship and a Japan Foundation Short-Term Fellowship. She was also selected as a participant in an NEH summer institute at FIU entitled “Tokyo: High City and Low City;” and as a participant in an ASIANetwork Faculty Enhancement Program on Thailand.

Syed Rizwan Zamir, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Davidson College, NC

Speech Titles
“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.