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September 18 and September 25, 2020

Presented by International Programs, the Center for Asian and Pacific Studies, the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, and the Iowa Global Health Network

Asia was the first place to experience the coronavirus, impose lock-downs and then emerge from them. It was also the first to experience a resurgence of infection due to the myopic and uneven response to forgotten communities. Beyond the spread of the disease itself, the broad scope of the pandemic has had far-reaching social and cultural consequences. Various political parties and groups in the United States, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, and Germany continue to refer to the “Chinese virus," politicizing a public health crisis and prompting violence against people presumed to be Asian.

Did you miss the webinar?

Click here to watch Session One: Pandemic 101 – Voices from Asia

Click here to watch Session Two: Invisible Communities

Session One:Pandemic 101 – Voices from Asia

Friday, September 18, 8:00 - 9:30 p.m. (CST)

Our panel of speakers presents an overview of the pandemic across Asia to lead us into an exploration of the medical, social and humanistic aspects of pandemics. What lessons can we learn from the present and past pandemics in Asia?


Dr. William Etienne, M.D., MPH
Infection Preventionist, Former Consultant at WHO, Cambodia

Presentation Topic: COVID-19 and resistant malaria elimination in Cambodia

William Etienne is a medical doctor with 15 years of experience in humanitarian medicine. He has worked for Doctors without Borders, the International Community of the Red Cross and the World Health Organization. His areas of expertise are health in conflict, health in detention, response to outbreaks, decentralization of care, primary health care and malaria elimination. From 2016 to 2019 he was involved in malaria elimination in Cambodia. He has recently relocated to Iowa City where he works in Infection Prevention at the University of Iowa Hospital.

Dr. Priscilla Song
Associate Professor, Centre for the Humanities and Medicine, The University of Hong Kong

Presentation Topic: COVID-19 in Hong Kong: An Ethnographic Perspective

Priscilla Song is associate professor in the Centre for the Humanities and Medicine and the Department of History at the University of Hong Kong. She is a medical anthropologist working at the nexus of global health, science and technology studies, and China studies. Recipient of the 2018 Francis Hsu Book Prize, her book Biomedical Odysseys: Fetal Cell Experiments from Cyberspace to China (Princeton University Press 2017) examines the culture and ethics of transnational biomedical and digital communication technologies. She is currently writing a new book on technologies of care at the end of life in urban Chinese hospitals. Before coming to Hong Kong, she taught in the Midwestern U.S.for several years atWashington University in St. Louis.She grew up in Ohio and received her PhD in anthropology from Harvard University.

Dr. Joseph Walline
Assistant Professor, Accident and Emergency Medicine Academic Unit, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Presentation Topic: COVID-19 in Hong Kong: The Clinical Situation

Joseph Walline is assistant professor in the Accident and Emergency Medicine Academic Unit at the Chinese University of Hong Kong ( He is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar to China and has over two decades of experience conducting research, teaching, and clinical work in East Asia. His areas of expertise include resuscitation, bedside ultrasound and international emergency medicine. He has written about the clinical management of COVID-19 in both mainland China and Hong Kong and is currently conducting research on the impact of COVID-19 on trauma and patient quality of life. He received his BA in history from Yale University, MD from Drexel University, and completed residency training in emergency medicine at the Cornell University-affiliated New York Hospital Queens. He holds clinical medical licenses in Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Hong Kong, and Beijing. Prior to coming to Hong Kong, he was Assistant Director of the Emergency Medicine training program at Saint Louis University.

Dr. Frederick Smith
Professor, Departments of Religious Studies & Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature, the University of Iowa

Presentation Topic: COVID-19 in India: Ethnography, Religion, Science and Pseudoscience

Fred Smith is professor of Sanskrit and Classical Indian Religions, with joint appointments in the Departments of Religious Studies & Asian and Slavic Languages and Literature at the University of Iowa. He is a former U.S. Fulbright Scholar to India. His primary interest is in the nature of religious and cultural tradition in India, the way specific, religious, cultural, and literary practices constitute and define Indian historical tradition. He teaches all level of Sanskrit, Indian (and other South Asian) religion, comparative religions, and ritual studies. He has lived and studied in India for 17 years and traveled widely in Tibet and China. He received his MA from the Center of Advanced Study in Sanskrit, Poona University, and his PhD in oriental studies from the University of Pennsylvania.


Dr. Hyaeweol Choi
C. Maxwell and Elizabeth M. Stanley Family and Korea Foundation Chair Professor in Korean Studies, University of Iowa

Hyaeweol Choi is professor, C. Maxwell and Elizabeth M. Stanley Family and Korea Foundation Chair in Korean Studies, Department of Religious Studies, and Director of the Korean Studies Research Network (KoRN) at the University of Iowa.Her research interests are in the areas of modern Korea, gender history, religions, food and body, and transnational history.She is the author of Gender and Mission Encounters in Korea: New Women, Old Ways (University of California Press, 2009), New Women in Colonial Korea (Routledge, 2013), and Gender Politics at Home and Abroad: Protestant Modernity in Colonial-era Korea (Cambridge University Press, 2020), among other publications.

Session Two:Invisible Communities

Friday, September 25, 8:00 - 9:30 p.m. (CST)

How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted certain communities even more than others? Until the time of the pandemic, these have been "forgotten" and "invisible" communities to the state and wider society. Who are the people who constitute these "invisible" communities in Asia? How have they been impacted by the pandemic? What have been the consequences of overlooking these communities?


Dr. Sokhieng Au
Lecturer, Global Health Studies, University of Iowa

Presentation Topic: COVID-19 in Cambodia and Vietnam: Securitization, Solidarity, and the State

Sokhieng Au's interests focus on historical and cultural understandings of medicine, the human body, and disease. In relation to these overarching topics, she researches and teaches on global circulations, exchanges, and inequities in: humanitarian aid medical expertise, scientific materials and techniques, and cultural and professional values. Her published research ranges from a monograph on French colonial medicine in Cambodia to an edited volume on the 2014 West African Ebola epidemic. She has lived and worked in the US, South America, the French Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Dr. Vivienne Wee
Director, Ethnographica and Co-founder, Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE), Singapore

Presentation Topic: COVID-19 in Singapore: How it became the most infected country in Southeast Asia by ignoring migrant workers

Vivienne Wee is an anthropologist, a feminist activist and a public intellectual. In Singapore, she is Director of Ethnographica, a research organization which undertakes ethnographic research. She also co-founded AWARE (Association of Women for Action and Research), where she is still Senior Advisor, and she is an active member of the regional Institute for Women’s Empowerment (IWE). She obtained her PhD from the Australian National University, MSocSc from the University of Singapore and Bachelor’s degrees from the University of Minnesota. She has taught at the National University of Singapore, The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Singapore University of Social Sciences. Her wide-ranging scope of research includes the indigenous Malays of Singapore and Indonesia, migrant workers in Hong Kong and Macau, women’s livelihoods in several Southeast Asian countries, as well as the intangible cultural heritage of Singapore.

Dr. Julius Bautista
Associate Professor, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Japan

Presentation Topic: Pandemic Pedagogy: The Philippine Experience

Julius Bautista is Associate Professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University, Japan, where he has lived for the past six years. Prior to his appointment at CSEAS, he was a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore. He received a PhD in Southeast Asian Studies (anthropology and cultural history) at the Australian National University, and has subsequently published on religious practice in Asia, with a focus on Christian iconography, religious piety, and the relationship between religion and the state. He is author of Figuring Catholicism: An Ethnohistory of the Santo Niño de Cebu (Ateneo, 2010), editor of The Spirit of Things: Materiality and Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia (Cornell SEAP, 2012) and co-editor (with Francis Lim) of Christianity and the State in Asia: Complicity and Conflict (Routledge, 2009). Dr. Bautista’s latest book, Way of the Cross: Suffering Selfhoods in the Roman Catholic Philippines, was published by the University of Hawaii Press in 2019.

Ms. Kyonghee Lee
Senior Staff Writer, Joongang Ilbo, Korea

Presentation Topic: COVID-19 in Korea: Invisible Communities

Kyonghee Lee works for the Joongang Ilbo, one of the major news companies in Korea. She is a journalist with 20 years of experience, interested in the socially disadvantaged. She is also interested in how to innovate the news in line with the digital environment. As a reporter, she has covered areas such as social, international, and cultural issues. She launched a digital media involving teenagers and served as editor-in-chief. She has recently engaged in data journalism and digital storytelling experiments. As of 2020, she is staying in the U.S. as a visiting scholar at the Duke University’s Asian/Pacific Studies Institute(APSI).


Dr. Shuang Chen
Associate Professor, Department of History, University of Iowa

Shuang Chen is Associate Professor of History at the University of Iowa. As a historian of late imperial and modern China, her research interest encompasses social, economic, and legal history, with an emphasis on exploring how the interplay of state and local institutions over the long term shaped the early modern Chinese society. Her book, State-Sponsored Inequality: The Banner System and Social Stratification in Northeast China (Stanford University Press, 2017), explores the social economic processes of inequality in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century rural Manchuria. In addition, she has also published a set of articles and book chapters on the interaction between demographic behaviors, social stratification, and institutional context under the setting of frontier settlement.