Fulbrights in Germany, China


By Ruth Jacobs

Two Colby professors were named 2009-2010 Fulbright Scholars. Associate Professor of East Asian Studies Hong Zhang will spend the year in China studying the effects of urban migration on family structures and gender roles. Jennifer Yoder, the Robert E. Diamond Associate Professor of Government and International Studies, spent two weeks in Germany this summer examining how that country’s political party system has changed since unification.

During her 10 months of research in China, Hong will look at the migration of workers from rural to urban areas and whether that mobility has led to changes in courtship, marriage choices, “and to what extent the traditional gender roles and intergenerational relations in rural families have been transformed,” she wrote in an e-mail from Beijing.

Hong will also examine the conflict in young people “between their desire for urban mobility and autonomy on the one hand and their economic and moral ties to their rural kin and communities on the other,” she wrote. Hong will conduct her research primarily in Beijing and will take trips to rural villages with young migrants.

While in Beijing Hong will serve as a Fulbright panelist, interviewing Chinese candidates seeking Fulbrights in the United States in 2010-2011.

As one of 14 American scholars at a Fulbright seminar in Germany this summer, Yoder participated in an interdisciplinary examination of Germany’s political parties, particularly the smaller parties that are drawing support away from the larger, established ones. In Berlin, Frankfurt, and Erfurt, Yoder met with political leaders, journalists, pollsters, and others to explore the changing face of German politics. “It was very enlightening,” she said.

Yoder said she was intrigued by the way Germans, gearing up for a September election, seemed influenced by the 2008 U.S. election. “They’re so aware of Obama and the Obama phenomenon,” she said. “As an American you recognize the phrasing, the attempt to energize the base. They were using Twitter, Facebook.”

Yoder planned to draw on this experience in her Jan Plan course comparing the September German election—the campaign, the parties, the election, and the outcomes—to the 2008 U.S. election and the American system.
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