Meet 2021-2022 Woodruff Fellow – Dian Dian

This is the third post in a series of interviews conducted by the Woodruff Library with the 2021-2022 Woodruff Library and Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) Fellows. Funded by the Laney Graduate School, the library and ECDS award fellowships to advanced graduate students expecting to complete their dissertations by the end of the fellowship period. Fellows are placed within the Woodruff Library and ECDS to work in an area related to their subject specialization or interest, culminating in a formal presentation in the spring.


Dian Dian

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m a 6th year PhD student in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. I’m originally from China and I used to be a lala (LBTI/queer women) and feminist activist in Beijing and Hong Kong. My native language is Mandarin but I also speak Cantonese.

What’s your favorite book? 

I enjoy reading different kinds of books in my free time, and it is difficult to name one favorite book as my favorite changes with my mood. But Hannah Arendt is my favorite theorist, and her work The Human Condition inspires me the most. It encourages me to take action and reflect on my relationship with others.

What’s your favorite thing about Emory/Atlanta? 

I love the natural beauty here in Atlanta, including the natural area on the Emory campus. I often bike through or take a walk in the Lullwater Preserve when the weather is nice.

What are you researching for your dissertation? 

My current research is a continuation of another form of my previous work. My dissertation is about “queer lala feminism” – a specific activism which I was part of and now will be articulated in my research – in transnational Chinese-speaking areas.

My current dissertation project on Sinophone queer lala feminism can be traced back to 2009, when I first volunteered for a lala organization in Beijing as a college student. Lala is a Chinese term referring to women-loving women, and activists often use the term as a broader umbrella category for non-normative identities and politics, which is more inclusive than the sexual identity “lesbian.” I learned about lala activism and the idea of oral history at the same time through working for the Beijing Lala Community Oral History Project. From 2009-2012, the project conducted over 40 interviews with lala activists, gay activists, feminist activists, and scholars. I will also study this oral history project in my dissertation.

What interested you about the Woodruff Library Fellowship? 

I’m interested in the Woodruff Library Fellowship because it offers me great opportunities to apply my research skills to more practical projects, as well as to improve certain skills from practice. The Emory Oral History Program works with my research interests very well.

What will you be working on this year for your Woodruff Library Fellowship? 

I will be working on the Emory Oral History Program this year for my Woodruff Library Fellowship. With my experience involving in oral history and my connection with Chinese communities in Emory and Atlanta, I hope to contribute to the current EOHP projects. I also look forward to learning from the program to better apply oral history methods and materials in my own research.


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