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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (CAHSS)

asian studies

Asian Studies Program


Michael Gibbs, Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley, is Associate Professor in the History Department, specializing in the history of Japan, with strong interests in the comparative history of modern East Asia. His monograph, Struggle and Purpose in Postwar Japanese Unionism, studies the ideology of unionists in the Japanese steel industry.  His second book, Film and Popular Culture in Postwar Japan, focuses on the culture of pacifism in contemporary Japan.  A Fulbright-Hays fellowship recipient, Dr. Gibbs has lived in Japan for over nine years, carrying out his research in labor archives in Japan. He speaks and reads Japanese fluently.

P. Sai-wing Ho, Ph.D. Stanford University and B.Soc.Sci. University of Hong Kong, is Associate Professor of Economics.  He specializes in trade and development, with a minor focus on East and Southeast Asia. His dissertation, which combined theoretical analysis and a case study, is entitled "Essays on Ricardo's Trade-Growth Analysis, with an Application to the Postwar Growth Experience in Hong Kong."  Dr. Ho has published articles in the Cambridge Journal of Economics, Review of Political Economy, Metroeconomica, Journal of Economic Issues, Forum for Social Economics, and Contributions to Political Economy, and has served as a referee for most of these journals.  His book, Rethinking Trade and Commercial Policy Theories: Development Perspectives, was published by Edward Elgar Publishing in 2010.  He gave a talk at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing in 2013 and at several other universities in China and Hong Kong, and has taught at Renmin University in Beijing.

Ginni Ishimatsu, Ph.D. University of California at Berkeley, is Associate Professor of Religious Studies, specializing in Hindu religious and ritual traditions.  She is the author of a book manuscript, Between Text and Tradition:  Hindu Ritual and Politics in South India, and has co-authored a translation of the Kriyakramadyotika, a medieval Sanskrit text used in modern Hindu temple worship (Chennai, India:  KSRI, forthcoming).  She has published articles in Oxford Bibliographies Online, Contributions to Indian Sociology, Journal of Oriental Research and has served on the editorial board of the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.  In 2006 she received DU's William T. Driscoll Master Educator award.

Sarah Morelli, Ph.D. Harvard University,is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Denver's Lamont School of Music. A specialist in classical music and dance of North India, she teaches courses on world musics, leads a North Indian classical performance ensemble, and coordinates the Expanding Horizons Initiative at Lamont. Dr. Morelli has studied Hindustani vocal music and the sarod with the legendary musician, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and continues to learn from his disciples Pandit Rajeev Taranath, Dr. George Ruckert, and Steve Oda. Dr. Morelli also has trained with virtuosic Kathak master, Pandit Chitresh Das and his senior disciple Gretchen Hayden. Her forthcoming book, Tales of a Modern Guru: Pandit Chitresh Das and Indian Classical Dance in Diaspora (University of Illinois Press, forthcoming) is an ethnographic account of Pandit Das's dance company and school, his contributions to kathak dance, and processes of culture-change in artistic diasporas. These issues also inform her earlier work on hip hop and youth culture in South Korea.  WEBSITE

Christine Ngo, Ph.D. School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, J.D. University of California, Hastings College of the Law.  Dr. Ngo is Assistant Professor of Economics.  Her research focuses on alternative approaches to development analysis, technological change in emerging economies and the role of the state in development processes. Because the issues of development are manifold, her research cuts across many disciplines including law, economics, politics and public policy. Between 2011 and 2012, Dr. Ngo worked as an Associate Economic Affairs Officer for the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva, Switzerland.  She has also consulted for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ).

Li Peters, Ph.D. University of California, Los Angeles, is Associate Professor of Chinese and Coordinator of the Chinese Program in the Department of Languages and Literatures.  She is the Director of the Asian Studies program.  Her research interests include translation theories and practices in early modern China; modern Chinese literature and cinema; and gender studies. Having translated and compiled anthologies of translations of English language poetry in her earlier career, she has published, in recent years, articles on modern and contemporary Chinese literature, popular culture and media studies. Her forthcoming book, entitled Memory, Fluid Identity, and the Politics of Remembering in the Representations of the Chinese Cultural Revolution in English-speaking Countries examines the politics of remembering and representing the Chinese Cultural Revolution. She is currently co-editing a collection of critical essays on Chinese socialist culture/literature and its many intriguing incarnations in the post-socialist era. 

Orna Shaughnessy, Ph.D. Japanese literature, University of California Berkeley, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures.  Dr. Shaughnessy's research focuses on the novel in comparative context, travel literature, translation studies, popular culture and cultural production through time. 

HIlary Smith, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, is Assistant Professor in the Department of History.  Dr. Smith's teaching and research interests lie at the intersection between Chinese history and the history of science and medicine; she is interested in how people living in very different times and cultures from our own made sense of the natural world, including their own bodies. Her research centers on changing understandings of disease in Chinese society, and on relationships between diet and health as Chinese doctors and patients have understood them. She teaches a wide range of classes, such as imperial and modern Chinese history, comparative history of medicine, and disease in world history.

Jing Sun, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin–Madison, is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. His areas of expertise are Japanese politics, Chinese politics, and East Asian international relations.  Dr. Sun, a native of Beijing, received his B.A. in journalism from Fudan University in Shanghai. Upon graduation, he worked as a journalist for Xinhua, China's state news agency, from 1997 to 1999. He also worked for China Central Television, the People's Daily, and Beijing Youth Daily while he was a student at the School of Journalism of Fudan University. Dr. Sun came to the United States in 1999. He has received fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the Japan Foundation, and was a visiting fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Tokyo from 2003 to 2004 and from 2008-2009, at Shanghai International Studies University in 2013, and at Jilin University (China) in 2014. He is the author of Japan and China as Charm Rivals: Soft Power in Regional Diplomacy (University of Michigan Press, 2012). His articles have appeared in Current History, Asian Survey, Asia Policy, and Diplomat, among others, and he has received interviews from American, Chinese, Japanese, and Russian media outlets. Dr. Sun speaks English, Mandarin, and Japanese fluently.


Yuki Arita (Japanese linguistics), Ph.D. candidate, University of Wisconsin Madison.  Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures.

Chiara Piovani (Chinese economy, feminist economics, political economy, environmental economics), Ph.D. University of Utah. Assistant Professor, Department of Economics

Aaron Paige (ethnomusicology in India and its diasporas), Ph.D. Wesleyan University.  Visiting Teaching Assistant Professor, Lamont School of Music

Ping Qiu (Chinese diaspora studies), Ph.D. candidate Purdue University, Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of  Languages and Literatures

Jing Wang (Chinese linguistics), Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh.  Visiting Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures

Jun Xu (Japanese linguistics), Ph.D. candidate, University of Wisconsin Madison.  Teaching Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages and Literatures.