Another Dissertation Award: The 2019 Illinois Qualitative Dissertation Award

I am very happy to share the news that my dissertation on Chinese rural youth during and right after the Cultural Revolution won another international dissertation award, the 2019 Illinois Qualitative Dissertation Award (Traditional Category). I attended the award ceremony at the 15th International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry, which was held at the University of Illinois in May 2019. As I said during the ceremony, it took a village to train a good qualitative methodologist. At the moment of celebrating achievements, I am particularly grateful to all my dissertation committee members for their years of support. I also take this award as a message of encouragement from the field of qualitative inquiry, which inspires me to continue the journey of turning this work into a monograph. Hopefully, it won’t take too long.

A detail about the ceremony: Indigenous scholars, culture, and rituals were very visible at the ceremony. Indigenous songs and music were played; the participants held hands to dance together following the music. Instead of celebrating individualistic achievements, I felt interconnected and encouraged. One of the indigenous scholars said at the ceremony, award in his language means “uplifting,” and that is the very reason for the gathering of that day. Yes, “uplifting,” this is the word that I was searching for. Decades later, I perhaps will forget the name of my award, but I will remember this very embodied feeling I experienced that day, UPLIFTING.

NBN Interviews

Two more NBN interviews, on Spark and Raising Race Questions respectively

After an extremely busy spring semester, I did two more New Books in Education interviews with two of my favorite authors, Patricia Leavy on her new book, Spark, and Ali Michael on her award-winning book Raising Race Questions: Whiteness and Inquiry in Education. I thoroughly enjoyed both and have learned a lot from the conversations with Patricia and Ali.

Spark is a highly original novel about an unexpected yet extremely fruitful journey of a sociology professor, Peyton Wilde. Peyton, together with a diverse group of companions, was charged with answering a perplexing question in a five-day seminar held in Iceland. As they worked to address the question from very different perspectives, the experience also transformed each and every one of the team members. This innovative text offers far more than what a typical novel could offer: the author seamlessly incorporates into it a process of social inquiry. Readers can relate to the book on multiple levels. It can be read for fun, for a book club discussion, or adapted as a required text for qualitative inquiry courses in fields such as education, social work, and communication.

Here is the link to the podcast: Spark

In Raising Race Questions, Ali Michael worked with a group of white teachers to inquire about race and schooling. She has masterfully shown to us, how teachers can become more racially competent through asking difficult questions, building inquiry groups, and working on personal and interpersonal reflection. The book offers four guiding principles for teachers to inquire about race and racism: (1) the inquiry aims to make teachers and classrooms more whole than creating fractures; (2) teachers’ and students’ positive racial identity matter; (3) a multicultural curriculum is not sufficient for building an antiracist classroom; (4) racial competence can be learned. These principles are inspiring and helpful for not only teachers, but also all the citizens who care about the issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice.

Here is the link to my conversation with Ali: Raising Race Questions


New Position at the University of Florida

I am happy to announce that I’ve accepted the position of assistant professor of qualitative methodology in the College of Education at the University of Florida. It has been a long journey for me to get here but I am glad that I persisted—with the unfailing support from all the good people in my life. I am deeply grateful.

As summer is just around the corner, I am looking forward to moving to the sunshine state and starting my new life there.

Go Gators! 


NBN Interview with Michelle Fine on her new book– Just Research in Contentious Times: Widening the Methodological Imagination

I greatly enjoyed my conversation with Michelle Fine on her new book, Just Research in Contentious Times: Widening the Methodological Imagination (Teachers College Press, 2018). Michelle is so eloquent and also so passionate about her work, a role model for a lot of us doing social justice work in this age. I particularly appreciate that she could share with me not only her achievements and insights, but also the pushbacks she received–things that eventually made her stronger and even more perseverant. Here is the link to the interview:

New Books Interview with Fine



NBN Interview with Michelle Fine on her new book– Just Research in Contentious Times: Widening the Methodological Imagination

I greatly enjoyed my conversation with Michelle Fine on her new book, Just Research in Contentious Times: Widening the Methodological Imagination (Teachers College Press, 2018). Michelle is so eloquent and also so passionate about her work, a role model for a lot of us doing social justice work in this age. I particularly appreciate that she could share with me not only her achievements and insights, but also the pushbacks she received–things that eventually made her stronger and even more perseverant. Here is the link to the interview:

NBN Interview with Fine


The Researching Research Project

The Researching Research Project

How do adolescents grow into mature adults during massive social changes? Traditional social theories emphasize the role of school education in preparing adolescents for the necessary social, cultural and cognitive skills in their coming of age process. However, when school education fails to do so, how do adolescents grow into adult social members and what challenges, difficulties, and struggles do they have to deal with? I explore this question in the context of modern and contemporary China, a country whose incredible socio-cultural and political changes make it especially well-suited for this study.


The Changing Fate Project examines Chinese rural youth’s coming of age experience in the country’s transition from the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) to post-Mao market reforms. During the Cultural Revolution, the youth in China’s countryside received a rural-oriented and collectivist school education, which did not prepare them for the ensuing social changes that led to a world of urbanization and individualization. This phenomenon then leads me to ask how rural youth in China navigated their lives and transformed their identity during and right after the years of social changes. Based on ethnographic and oral history data, I argue that a combination of micro and macro level factors—most importantly, family, state ideology and gender—enabled rural youths to internalize different sets of social norms and channeled them to distinctive life paths. Currently, I am working on a book manuscript derived from this project, which is tentatively titled Changing Fate: The Cultural Revolution’s Rural Youth in Transition to Post-Mao China.

NBN Interviews

NBN Interview on Discursive Perspectives on Education Policy and Implementation

The study of education policy is a scholarly field that sheds light on important debates and controversies revolving around education policy and its implementation. In this episode, I will be talking with three scholars who have made substantial contributions to this field by introducing an innovative perspective to the studies of educational policy—the discursive perspectives. In their new edited volume, Discursive Perspectives on Education Policy and Implementation (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), editors Jessica LesterChad Lochmiller, and Rachael Gabriel, together with other contributors of the book, argue that we should pay close attention to how language is used as a mediation in the entire process of education policy conceptualization and implementation. The book offers compelling and diverse examples to demonstrate how researchers interested in different aspects of policy studies may employ language-based methodologies to enrich our understanding of crucial issues in the realm of policymaking. Thoughtfully produced and carefully presented, the book also won this year’s AERA Qualitative Research SIG outstanding book award.

This is my first time to conduct interview with more than one guest remotely. I am glad it went on so well! Thanks, Drs. Lester, Lochmiller, and Gabriel!


My Dissertation on Rural Chinese Youth Received the Top Prize from International Institute for Qualitative Methodology

It is a great honor for me to receive the top prize in the 2017 International Institute for Qualitative Methodology (IIQM) Dissertation Award — Ph.D. Level. The award came as a big surprise but I am excited to know my work has been recognized by the international qualitative research community. I look forward to presenting my study and receiving the award in next year’s Qualitative Health Research Conference in Vancouver, Canada.

Full news article


NBN Interviews

NBN Interview with Aaron Kuntz on his new book–The Responsible Methodologist: Inquiry, Truth-Telling, and Social Justice

In this episode, I speak with Aaron M. Kuntz about his book, The Responsible Methodologist: Inquiry, Truth-Telling, and Social Justice (Left Coast Press, 2015). This book offers a thorough and much-needed interrogation of the role of research methodologist in today’s neo-liberalist era. Kuntz reflects upon the social and cultural structure that gave rise to the conventional role of a methodologist, a technocrat and middle-manager of knowledge production. He urges social and educational researchers in general, and research methodologists in particular, to move away from such a morally indifferent position and to encompass a social justice oriented approach to research. In his book, Kuntz also mobilizes the latest social theories from post-structuralism to new materialism to reconceptualize the meaning of truth and the responsibility of researchers.

This thought-provoking and beautifully executed book will bring the readers to the central issues and debates with which contemporary researchers and research methodologists have been wrestling. Aaron is inspiring, interesting, and humorous. I love to hear his intellectual journey from a literature student to an established qualitative methodologist.

NBN Interviews

NBN Interview with Patricia Leavy on Low-Fat Love Stories

It was a great pleasure to chat with Patricia Leavy on her new book, Low-Fat Love Stories (Sense Publishers, 2017, co-authored with Victoria Scotti). This interesting and inspiring book is a collection of short stories and artistic portraits focusing on women’s dissatisfying relationships. What makes these stories different from conventional fictions is that all the stories are based on extensive interviews with women of different ages and from different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds across the United States. In the book, readers will read extremely candid and moving personal stories, identity struggles, and painstaking self-reflection. As a product of art-based research, the book also critically interrogates how popular culture shapes women’s self-perception, influences their understanding of romantic relationship, and eventually contributes to their sufferings of low self-esteem, depression, or anxiety. Dr. Leavy has so many insights to share about conducting art-based research. I enjoyed the entire conversation with her incredibly and my personal favorite part of the interview is her talking about how she conducted collaborative art-based research with artist, Victoria Scotti.