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Professor to visit China through Fulbright seminar

June 24, 2010

Arizona State University’s Kristin Koptiuch is one of 16 college faculty members from across the country selected to spend July visiting several cities in China through the prestigious Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad program. The trip is designed to give participants a first-hand view of China’s history, culture, changing society and rapid economic growth. Koptiuch, an associate professor of anthropology in the New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences on ASU’s West campus, will visit Beijing, Xi’an, Chongqing, Shanghai and Hong Kong.

“As a professor who teaches comparative courses in global issues, I feel intellectually compelled to deepen my knowledge of China’s history, culture, society and its contemporary economic role so that I may integrate knowledge of this critically important country into my courses and convey it to my students,” Koptiuch said. “Its blend of historical depth and ultra-contemporary global vernaculars, dynamic economic transformation both at home and in its global reach, and the sheer weight of its enormous population, guarantee China’s significance in world affairs, the global economy and global culture.”

Koptiuch said she looks forward to developing a curriculum project based on her experiences in China. Participants are required to create curriculum projects; the finished projects will be available for use by educators nationwide.

“It is imperative that American university students learn about China’s dynamic role in the world today, the challenges its people face internally as well as those China poses well beyond its own borders,” she said.

Koptiuch, who has taught at ASU’s West campus since 1992, is a cultural anthropologist trained in cultural studies and social theory. Her research and teaching focuses on urbanism, global migration and diversity in transnational contexts. Koptiuch’s first book, “A Poetics of Political Economy in Egypt,” is based on field research on Egyptian artisans and the informal sector in Cairo. She is now working on a volume exploring “edge-city” geographic and social phenomena of metropolitan Phoenix.

Koptiuch just returned from three weeks in Costa Rica, where she directed an ASU summer study abroad program entitled Costa Rica & Central American Studies.

“With less than a week to prepare for traveling to China,” Koptiuch said, “I’m madly trying to shift gears from a wonderful learning experience with students in Costa Rica to get ready for the Fulbright-Hays program and a very different continent.


The absorption of rural workers by China’s cities signals an unprecedented scale of rural-to-urban domestic migration as peasants seek to benefit from improved urban living standards,” Koptiuch said. “Combined with residency regulations that render urban migrants unauthorized aliens in their own country, the resulting ‘floating population’ of some 100 million migrants represents an intriguing form of internally displaced persons that I’d like to learn more about.”

“Kristin’s selection to participate in this Fulbright program is not just a great honor and opportunity for her,” said Carol Mueller, director of New College’s Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences. “It also will benefit our students, as Kristin adds curricular materials based on what she learns in China to her courses in migration and culture, global cities, and social anthropology. Including units on China in her courses will expand student learning about and knowledge of this critical part of Asia throughout our division’s degree programs by deepening their comparative scope.”

The Social and Behavioral Sciences division offers bachelor’s degrees in political science, psychology, sociology, interdisciplinary social and behavioral sciences, and communication studies. Minors in sociocultural anthropology, communication studies, public relations and strategic communications, and interdisciplinary organizational studies also are available.

“Our academic programs offer a global focus, but Asia is an area that has not been well-represented,” Koptiuch said. “I look forward to updating my course syllabi to add China to my students’ comparative global perspective.”

More information about the Social and Behavioral Sciences division is available at

The Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad: History and Culture in China program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and Chinese Ministry of Education, and is administered by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations and the China Education Association for International Exchange.

The National Committee on United States-China Relations, established in 1966, is the leading national, non-partisan public affairs organization devoted exclusively to building constructive and durable relationships between the United States and China. The Committee’s continuity of experience and depth of associations in Greater China and the United States help it perform its key mission of creating opportunities for informed discussion and reasoned debate about issues of common interest and concern to the United States, the People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong SAR and Taiwan.