Duke's global centers & initiatives

Asian Pacific Studies Institute

Mission Statement

The Asian/Pacific Studies Institute (APSI) fosters an active community of scholars of East and Southeast Asia, promotes the highest standards of undergraduate and graduate education in Asian Studies, enhances awareness of Asian cultures at Duke and across the Triangle, and provides academic and cultural resources about Asia to schools, colleges and universities in the southeastern United States.

Summary of 2020-2021 Programs

In the 2020-21 academic year, APSI used virtual meeting platforms to organize multiple events, including a major reunion of Duke Study in China (DSIC) alums, and expanded our speaker series with co-sponsored talks focused on China-U.S. science and technology policy issues. APSI also successfully supported its MA program in East Asian Studies, strengthened collaboration with the Asian American & Diaspora Studies (AADS) program, and launched the Troost Prize for the best undergraduate project in East Asian Studies.

The DSIC reunion brought together a diverse group of alumni from nearly 40 years of the program’s operation as well as Global Education Office staff, APSI faculty, and current Duke undergraduates. A panel of alumni representing each decade of the program reflected on the impact of their experience in China on their careers. They credited the DSIC for giving them passion, credibility, and language skills supporting their current jobs, whether in the military, in the art world, or in leadership positions in international organizations. The reunion was lauded by alumni participants and inspired several spinoff events along cohort years.

Five students successfully completed their MA in East Asian Studies degree in spring 2021, demonstrating their resilience and hard work during a uniquely challenging year of the pandemic. Incoming MA students started their studies remotely last fall; international students began at DKU, taking selected DKU classes as well as Duke courses online. The arrangement gave APSI an opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with DKU faculty; we were able to co-sponsor several joint DKU-Duke events this year. One notable event focused on “The China Factor in the U.S. Presidential Election.”

APSI has also deepened our collaboration with Asian American & Diaspora Studies this year, welcoming several faculty to become core APSI faculty members, co-sponsoring events, and providing administrative support to its programs. A particularly noteworthy event featured renowned poets Caroline Randall Williams and Cathy Park Hong. The poets drew a large audience for their discussion of race relations in the U.S. and how artists can strengthen alliances to combat systemic racism.

Another milestone occurred this spring when APSI established and awarded the inaugural Troost Prize for the best undergraduate project in East Asian studies. The prize honors Dr. Kristina Troost, who retired in 2020. 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 many years as the much-beloved Director of Graduate Studies for the East Asian Studies MA program. For the inaugural year, APSI awarded two prizes: to Ansley Arnow (Trinity ’21) for her honors thesis, “Transnational Japonisme: Representing Women and the Female Body”; and to Aaron Zhao (Trinity ’22) and Albert Sun (Trinity ’23) for their documentary film, “The Dream that Wasn’t.”

Finally, over the course of the year, APSI hosted a robust speaker series, enriched by several co-sponsored series and events. The series began with a timely conversation with UCLA Prof. Michael Berry on “Translation and the Virus, Covid-19, Cyber Politics, and Fang Fang’s Wuhan Diary.” APSI also hosted a China Town Hall, organized by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, with a separate session focusing on U.S.-China science and technology cooperation. This inspired a special spring series organized by Dr. Denis Simon, the senior adviser to the president for China Affairs at Duke. Other events included the Triangle Japan Forum series of talks, our ongoing AP Forum for graduate students working on East Asia-related topics of study, and several virtual film screenings.

2020-2021 Notable Programs


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