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Emily Mae Graf, a Chinese Studies Scholar at Freie Universität Berlin, Won a Ruprecht Karls Prize
No 394/2019 from Dec 18, 2019
Emily Mae Graf, a researcher at the Institute of Chinese Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, received one of this year’s Ruprecht Karls Prizes for her dissertation. In her outstanding work, Dr. Graf examines how museums and memorial sites commemorate the important Chinese writer Lu Xun (1881-1936). She describes how these institutions shaped the retrospective of China’s past and culture and helped determine Lu Xun’s status in world literarture - Lu Xun is now considered the founder of modern Chinese literature. In her dissertation, Emily Graf compares museums focusing on Lu Xun with, for example, the Brecht-Weigel Memorial in Berlin. She attempts to disclose the asymmetries and mechanisms of power that determine which works are classified as world literature. The dissertation submitted to the University of Heidelberg is entitled "Lu Xun on Display: Memory, Space and Media in the Making of World Literary Heritage." The awards were presented in the old auditorium of the Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg. The award honors outstanding achievements by doctoral students at the university; it is endowed with 3,000 euros.
The selection panel pointed out that the award went to Emily Graf in recognition of her precise examination of complex and interrelated relationships to explain the emergence and further development of a cultural memory. Using the Chinese writer Lu Xun as an example, she analyzed local and global forms for creating, changing, and forgetting national writers through the institution of museums. In her dissertation, the choreography of the museum objects functions as an indicator of political and ideological conditions and changes. Dr. Graf renders a differentiated image of an emerging and drastically changing nation between propaganda and educational policy. She succeeded in elevating a local micro-story to the level of world literature and global memory cultures. Her comparisons also offer new possibilities for alternative perspectives in the discussion about world literature, currently dominated by North American or European points of view.
The Heidelberg University Foundation annually awards the Ruprecht Karls Prize to the five best doctoral theses. The multistage university-wide selection process takes academic first works from all subjects into account. The award winners are selected by a committee appointed by the board of the Heidelberg University Foundation following recommendations by the rector.
Emily Mae Graf majored in Chinese studies at Heidelberg University and received her doctorate in the Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies (GPTS) at the Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context." She worked as an assistant at the Institute of Chinese Studies at Heidelberg University before moving to the Institute of Chinese Studies at Freie Universität Berlin in 2018 as a researcher. In her most recent research project, she is examining the importance of "barefoot doctors" in the People’s Republic of China in the course of the 1960s and 70s and their role in the discourse on global health care.
- History and cultural studies