APARC Names 2020-21 Postdoctoral Fellows

APARC Names 2020-21 Postdoctoral Fellows

Announcement of Shorenstein APARC's 2020-21 Postdoctoral Fellows

APARC is pleased to announce that two young scholars, Jeffrey Weng and Nhu Truong, have been selected as our 2020-21 Shorenstein postdoctoral fellows on contemporary Asia. They will begin their appointments at Stanford in autumn 2020.

The Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellowship on Contemporary Asia is open to recent doctoral graduates dedicated to research and writing on contemporary Asia, primarily in the areas of political, economic, or social change in the Asia-Pacific, or international relations in the region.

Fellows develop their dissertations and other projects for publication, present their research, and participate in the intellectual life of APARC and Stanford at large. Our postdoctoral fellows often continue their careers at top universities and research organizations around the world and remain involved with research and publication activities at APARC.

Meet our new postdoctoral scholars:

Portrait of Jeffrey Weng
Jeffrey Weng
Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow on Contemporary Asia

Research focus: How does society shape language, and how does language shape society?

Jeffrey Weng is completing his Ph.D. in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. He holds a BA in political science from Yale University, and his work has appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies and Theory and Society. His research focuses on the evolution of language, ethnicity, and nationalism in China.

Jeffrey's dissertation examines language in the context of Chinese nation-building. Mandarin Chinese was artificially created about a century ago and initially had few speakers. Now, it is the world’s most-spoken language. How did this transition happen? Weng's research shows how the codification of Mandarin was done with the intention to match existing practices closely, but not exactly. Top-down efforts by the state to spread the new language faced enormous difficulties, and ultimately its wide-spread adoption may have been catalyzed more by economic growth and urban migration. By investigating how these monumental social and political changes occurred, Weng’s work deepens the understanding of societal shifts, past and present, in one of the world’s predominant nations, while also contributing more broadly to scholarship on class, the educational reproduction of privilege, and the construction and reconstruction of race, ethnicity, and nation.

At Shorenstein APARC, Weng will continue to publish papers based on his doctoral research while reworking his dissertation into a book manuscript.

Portrait of Nhu Truong
Nhu Truong
Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow on Contemporary Asia

Research focus: Why are some authoritarian regimes more responsive than others?

Nhu Truong is a Ph.D. candidate in comparative politics in the Department of Political Science at McGill University, with an area focus on China, Vietnam, and Southeast Asia. She received an MPA in International Policy and Management from the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University, an MA in Asian Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BA in International Studies from Kenyon College. Prior to embarking on her doctoral study, she worked in international development in Vietnam and Cambodia, and with policy research on China.

Her research focuses on authoritarian politics and the nature of communist and post-communist regimes, particularly as it pertains to regime repressive-responsiveness, the dynamics of social resistance, repertoires of social contention, and political legitimation.
Nhu Truong’s dissertation explains how and why the communist, authoritarian regimes of China and Vietnam differ in their responsiveness to mounting unrest caused by government land seizures. Drawing on theory and empirical findings from 16 months of fieldwork and in-depth comparative historical analysis of China and Vietnam, Truong uses these two regimes as case studies to explore the nature of responsiveness to social pressures under communist and authoritarian rule and the divergent institutional pathways that responsiveness can take. She posits that authoritarian regimes manage social unrest by relying on raw coercive power and by demonstrating responsiveness to social demands. But not all authoritarian regimes are equally responsive to social pressures. Despite their many similarities, the Vietnamese communist regime has exhibited greater institutionalized responsiveness, whereas China has been relatively more reactive.
As a Shorenstein Fellow, Truong will develop her dissertation into a book manuscript. She plans to continue exploring the variable outcomes and knock-on effects of authoritarian responsiveness in places like Cambodia, which will further support her comparative research on China and Vietnam and lay the groundwork for her next project.