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Noora Hakulinen, MA student, University of Turku

China’s human trafficking court cases: An analysis on the human trafficking judgements in China between 2006-2016 and the impact the National Plan of Action on Combatting Human trafficking
I analyze court judgements made to human trafficking cases between 2006-2016 in five different provinces where trafficking crimes are considered to be prominent. During these ten years, China implemented its first National Plan of Action on Combatting Trafficking of Women and Children (NPA) and is currently implementing a second one, which will be effective until 2020. I am analyzing the impact of these action plans by comparing the judgements that are done between this time period. Through this analysis I am also portraying the overall human trafficking situation in China in the past ten years, where it has succeeded in its anti-trafficking efforts and what are the challenges ahead.


Kanamik Kani Khan, Mphil student, University of Bergen

Relationship between Renewable Energy and Socio-economic Development: A Study in Patuakhali District
Solar energy use has been creating positive impact on socio-economic changes in rural areas of Bangladesh. The households who use solar energy achieve comparatively more socio-economic and environmental benefits than the non-users of solar energy. The research attempts to identify the limitations that hinder the accessibility of renewable energies in Bangladesh. Solar energy has been becoming cheaper day by day but surprisingly there are still many villagers do not use it.

Financial reason could merely affect this since it has become cheaper so the question remains whether any psychological or other reason exist that does not encourage villagers to use solar energy.


Serena De Marchi, PhD candidate, Stockholm University

Political prison literature of China: analyzing the authors' different re-constructions of the prisonscape.
My research seeks to investigate the articulations of the prisonscape in the writings of selected Chinese authors. The point of departure is the study of the evolution of Chinese prisons and the Chinese penal system, that will provide the historical framework; while in the analysis of the literature, I rely on existing studies on the aesthetics of political prison camp writings (William & Wu, 2004), as well as on trauma studies. The idea is to build a very comprehensive definition of the "prisonscape" that will allow me to analyze and compare the works of different writers, both from mainland China and exiled dissidents. The main research questions is: how can a physical place associated with pain, fear and death eventually become a literary space of survival, witnessing and (in some cases) dissidence?

Guri Strand Karlsen, MA student, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

The role and development of the multi-religious Kataragama sacred area 
My thesis is focused on understanding why certain religious places in Sri Lanka are recognized as more sacred than others. This will be done by comparing the multi-religious Kataragama shrine and temple with similar shrines in Kotabowa and Kandy, and by looking into the development of the place over time. In order to do this I pay special attention to the changes after the Civil war of 2009, when considering both the ethnic and religious boundaries. By using theory on the concept of place from a cultural geography perspective I intend to investigate the different claims to this holy area and how this interacts with its heritage. This is a complex issue as the Kataragama sacred area is a site of pilgrimage for not only the majority religion Buddhism but also by Hindus, Muslims and Christians, as well as the indigenous Vedda during the annual festival celebrating the deity Kataragama’s marriage.

Asia in Focus is looking for a new student assistant

Thursday, June 15, 2017
The Nordic Institute of Asian Studies’ journal Asia in Focus is looking for a new volunteer student assistant!
Are you interested in scientific writing and academic publishing? Asia in Focus needs a student assistant from August 2017 to support the editorial team.
About us:
Asia in Focus is published by a young, motivated and international team of editors from a variety of backgrounds, all with an interest in Asia. We all work on a voluntary basis, and that means we are in this because we care about it. You will be part of the team as a volunteer, participating in all meetings, supporting the entire work cycle of the bi-annual publication. You will work closely together with the managing editor.
About You:
A structured person with an eye for detail, who can keep a grand overview of the process and status of each issue, and reliably solve administrative tasks, including:
• Email communication with editors and authors
• Webpage management (familiarity with WordPress required)
• Support with final layout (familiarity with InDesign required)
• Take and distribute minutes from editorial meetings
• Assist with funding applications
• Maintain and update the catalogue of internal and external reviewers in Excel
How to apply:
Send a motivated email and your CV to [email protected] or visit our webpage
Deadline for application: 15 June 2017
We look forward to hearing from you.


Andrea Menéndez Arboleya, Master student, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Myanmar Mobile Citizenships in a Context of International Labor Migration in Peri-Urban Bangkok

In a world with steady increasing rates of worldwide mobility, cross-country migrants experience losses of their democratic rights while living abroad. This happens because full democratic rights linked to the current notion of citizenship only apply to certain individuals (citizens) within a specific geographical area limited by political boundaries (nation-states). The main motivation behind my study is to challenge these limitations by exploring alternative, in particular non-Western bottom-down, notions of citizenship that can contribute to improve levels of democracy in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region.


Lisa Lindkvist Zhang, Master student, University of Copenhagen

Himalayan Interludes: Chinese Kinetics in Indo-Tibetan Lattices

Lisa Lindkvist Zhang is an MA student in Chinese Studies at University of Copenhagen. She also holds an MA degree in Chinese Philosophy from Fudan University and a BA in Philosophy from University College London. Lisa's research interests revolve around transregional interactions with focus on translation practices, the writing of intellectual histories, and the articulation of 'Otherness'. Her current MA thesis, tentatively titled “Himalayan Interludes: Chinese Kinetics in Indo-Tibetan Lattices”, seeks to shed light on the politics of Chinese interactions in the Indian Himalaya between the 1940s to the 1960s.



New workplace student at NIAS

Johan Schoonhoven is one of our new workplace students at NIAS.

Johan is a Master's student from the Centre of East and South East Asian Studies at Lund University, and he writes:

In my thesis, I focus on South Korea’s development path and current challenges to contemporary society characterized by high youth unemployment, increasing economic inequality and lack of social mobility. In specific, I investigate the meaning of the emerging expression “Hell Joseon” and how language might reflect and/or ignite societal change. My thesis work is based on in-depth interviews with Koreans in their 20s and 30s.

Welcome to our two new SUPRA Students!

Stephanie Winkler, PhD student, Stockholm University 

Power shift East Asia – the Politics of Soft Power

My PhD project is concerned with the puzzle of the “stickiness” of soft power. The recent years have seen a rapid proliferation of academic work on soft power, specifically related to China and Asia, even though the concept and its utilisation in academic research and policy making has from its very inception been sharply criticized from nearly all academic traditions. How is it possible that despite bad policy, bad research practices and bad experience, academics and policy makers still hold on to the concept of soft power? My project suggests that understanding this paradox on the “stickiness” of soft power requires an analysis of the intentional practical use of reflexivity, in other words, the politics of soft power. 

Rather than treating concepts such as soft power as innocent, a-political or value-neutral conceptual tools to make sense of a reality “out there”, in my project I intend to trace the reification processes of the concept of soft power in East Asia and the consequences of such politics of soft power for East Asia and our understanding of the impending “power shift”. 

Matti Puranen, PhD student, University of Jyväskylä

Towards a World Without Borders?: Tianxia and the theory of world politics with Chinese characters

Matti Puranen (MSSc & MA) is a doctoral student in Political Science at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. He is studying contemporary Chinese political thought, focusing on the "tianxia" discourse.


Cheng Zeng is a PhD candidate in Intercultural Communication at the University of Jyväskylä. He draws on both qualitative and quantitative methods to study how organizational dissent, a concept that has been studied extensively in western literature, functions in a different cultural setting. More specifically, he explores the influence of national and organizational culture on employee voice behavior and perception of freedom of speech in workplaces in China.



Xinrong Ma is a PhD candidate from LIAS (Leiden University Insitute for Area Studies), Leiden University, the Netherlands. Xinrong’s PhD research focuses on labour migrants in China, in particular, ethnic Yi labour migrants in the Pearl River Delta area of China. Her research focuses on examining the co-ethnic brokerage system of ethnic Yi labour migrants from the lens of the intersectionality of ethnicity and class.

We welcome two new SUPRA students at NIAS

The next two weeks we have the pleasure of welcoming:

Fabien Schuessler, MA student, University of Turku

Tourist Attraction and City Branding through old town renovation in the case of Chengdu

Domestic tourism in China has grown significantly, impacting consumption in China and affected by shifting travel motivations. Amidst strong inter-urban competition, Chinese cities are striving to adapt and cater to tourists' demands and promote themselves. Fabien explores how old town gentrification in the case of Chengdu as part of the city's place-making and branding strategies was successful at that.

Henrik Nykvist, MA student, University of Oslo

Working Title: National Policies to Promote the Employment of College Graduates in China

In recent years the increasing unemployment rate of college graduates has become a problematic challenge for the Chinese Communist Party. The policy National Policies to Promote the Employment of College Graduates in China was introduced in order to give specific guidelines to graduates as a means to deal with this issue. Henrik is currently investigating how Chinese graduate students from two different universities in China perceive and utilize this policy.

We welcome two new SUPRA students at NIAS!

Kati Hiltunen, MA student, University of Helsinki

The country image of Finland in China

I am a M.A. student of Chinese studies at the University of Helsinki. With a B.Sc. degree in human geography, I am interested in topics such as nationalism and constructing identities, and am at the moment writing my master’s thesis on Finland’s country image in China. For my thesis I am conducting a survey in China to look into what Finland is known for and what different components and aspects its country image consists of in the Chinese markets.


Suvi Kurki, MA student, University of Turku

Finding a New Narrative of Chinese Business Leadership

The research goal is to determine how Chinese business leadership is viewed by young Chinese people. The study seeks to answer the following questions: How do Chinese university business students talk about leadership? and What kind of differences are there between the Chinese business leadership described by Western scholars and young Chinese people? The data consists of 112 empathy-based stories written by Chinese university students. 


New SUPRA students at NIAS

Sidsel Rasmussen, PhD, University of Aarhus

Perceptual assimilation of Mandarin Chinese consonants by native Danish listeners

“My project aims to map the potential problems of native Danish speaking learners’ spoken Mandarin Chinese (MC)  by assessing their perception, discrimination and production of  selected MC phones. I am particularly interested in the rich MC inventory of fricatives and affricates which probably constitute the most novel sounds for native Danish learners of MC. My first experiment investigates the perceptual assimilation of (nearly) the full set of MC initial consonants as perceived by native Danish speakers without any experience with MC. The assimilation patterns yield predictions about discrimination problems of which some resonate anecdotal classroom observations.”


Anh Nguyen Quoc, MA, University of Helsinki

The politics of land grabbing in Vietnam