章杲恆 Gaoheng Zhang is Associate Professor of Italian Studies at the University of British Columbia. He is a humanities scholar of migration, mobilities, multiculturalism, media, rhetoric, ethics, and masculinity. His recent research seeks to provide a road map for analyzing cultural mobilities concerning contemporary Italy’s and Europe’s global networks, particularly with Asia and Africa, which are created through migration, colonialism, exile, tourism, business travel, and other forms of human mobility.

Gaoheng is a leading cultural critic of Chinese migration to Italy, which has generated considerable debate in the Italian, Chinese migrant, and international media because of migrants’ economic clout. This is the subject of his first book, Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012 (University of Toronto Press, 2019), which is the first detailed media and cultural study of the Chinese migration from both Italian and Chinese migrant perspectives, as well as one of the few book-length analyses of migration and culture. The research for the book was supported by Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities (now the USC Society of Fellows) at the University of Southern California, and its publication was funded by Awards to Scholarly Publications Program and The Schoff Publication Fund AwardPreviously he has published several key articles on gender and ethics in cinematic and literary depictions of migrants, and of men and women, in Italy.

His recent book project (under contract with University of Toronto Press in 2020 and submitted in 2021), titled “Migration and Material Culture: Mobility Between China and Italy via America, 1980s-2010s,” offers an innovative critical framework to examine cultural dynamics pertaining to migrations between China and Italy, as well as their intersections in or through American culture. The book deploys the Chinese concept of 衣食住行 (clothing, food, residence, mobility) in structuring discussions about Italian and Chinese material cultures and their representations in primary sources culled from diverse media and archives. Ultimately, the book aims to refine theorizing concerning the relationships between migration and material culture. A related project is a website on the subject in a wider cultural framework: https://mobilitiesitalychina.com. He has received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for this project.

Scrambles for East Africa: Public Perceptions and Cultural Debates between China, Western Europe, and East Africa” is a pilot study for a planned monograph in progress. The Belt and Road Initiative is China’s most ambitious development strategy and governance project. Unlike China’s earlier market reforms, the BRI intends to lay a foundation for Chinese leadership in international relations. While the empirical details of technological and economic change can be documented in other kinds of sources, the media becomes a nexus for the jockeying for global significance and reputation, especially through covering issues related to economic development and environment. I argue that Chinese media and cultural sources on BRI projects in Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, and Tanzania emphasize the merits of intersecting commercial, capital, workforce, knowledge, and media mobilities. In contrast, relevant Italian, French, and British debates focus on neocolonialism, environmental degradation, and labor exploitation, which are contemporary dimensions of mal d’Afrique. By grounding my analysis in theories from mobilities and postcolonial studies, my project will help foster informed dialogues about the subject in academic and public debates.

Gaoheng spearheaded and co-organized two conferences focused on Italy, China, and East Asia: “Italy and China: Centuries of Dialogue” (University of Toronto, April 2016) and “Italy and East Asia: Exchanges and Parallels” (Stony Brook University, October 2018). He serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies (2014-Present) and on the Publications Committee of the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program for Canada’s Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2017-20).

At UBC, he is an Affiliated Faculty at the Institute for European Studies and at the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program, and a member of the Executive Committee of the UBC Centre for Migration Studies.

Before joining UBC, Gaoheng held positions as Assistant Professor of Italian Cinema at the University of Toronto and as a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities (now the USC Society of Fellows) at the University of Southern California. He was educated at Beijing Foreign Studies University (B.A.) and at New York University (M.A., Ph.D.).

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