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Roland Hsu

Roland Hsu, PhD

Associate Director of The Stanford Humanities Center

Stanford Humanities Center
424 Santa Teresa Street
Stanford, CA 94305


Hsu is dedicated to bringing creative and multi-disciplinary thinking to the challenges of international cultural dialogue, and post-conflict peace and reconciliation.  His own research focuses on migration and ethnic identity formation.  His publications combine humanistic and social science methods and materials to answer what displaces peoples, how do societies respond to migration, and what are the experiences of resettlement. 

Currently he is conducting a study over six years to publish three books.  The three books address ethnicity, migration, and diaspora.  His first book entitled Ethnic Europe: Mobility, Identity, and Conflict in a Globalized World (Stanford University Press, 2010) revealed what it means to lay claim to ethnic difference in the traditional national cultures of Europe.  Ethnic Europe combines essays by leading scholars whom Hsu with research partners brought to Stanford.  The book is edited and begins with an essay by Hsu on how we think about ethnicity, and why recognizing ethnicity unsettles social tradition in increasingly globalized Europe.  Hsu continues to foster public questioning of the meaning and use of ethnicity by sponsoring programming on European political and cultural initiatives, and with blog postings on diversity policy and the politics of immigration in such publications as Le Monde Diplomatique.

Hsu’s second book Migration and Integration: New Models for Mobility and Coexistence (University of Vienna Press, forthcoming 2015) asks what displaces people, and how do migrants return or resettle.  Co-edited with Christoph Reinprecht (University of Vienna) Mobility and Integration compares international and internal migration in East and South-East Asia, North Africa and Southern Europe, Western and Eastern Europe, and Scandinavia.  Based on Hsu’s design with faculty partners of a series of visiting fellowships, workshops, and an international conference, Hsu and Reinprecht invited scholars from multiple disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences to contribute to this volume on the history, politics, and culture of migration and integration in an illuminating East-West comparison.

The third book Diaspora: Global Perspectives is a study of the theory, history, and contemporary experience of diaspora communities.  Co-edited with Dag Blanck (Uppsala University) this book will ask how models of resettled communities and diasporas should be revised to help us understand today’s migrant experience.  Combining thirty historical and contemporary case studies, this book on Diaspora will help us rethink what has been the consequence of labeling a migrant community as a diaspora, why contemporary displacements due to war, poverty, and climate change disperse peoples more widely, and how we can understand the emerging experience of real and virtual migrant communities.

A fourth project in this series will be a web-based, curated and dynamic clearing house of the new thinking from scholars, policy leaders, and non-governmental actors on migration and refugees in national, regional, and trans-national settings.

Hsu developed this interest based on work with faculty at Stanford and with invited scholars, and policy and civil society leaders, as well as through his teaching and lecturing at Stanford, the University of Chicago, and European universities.  Hsu has served in administrative leadership positions at multiple research centers, and related to his research, his list of sponsored conferences, workshops, seminars, and public events includes:

  • Authors and artists: Ian McEwan, Orhan Pamuk, Aris Fioretos, Ruth Ozeki, Fady Joudah, David Adjaye
  • Conferences/workshops/seminars: Stanford Faculty Working Group on Responding to Refugees; New thinking on Nobel Laureate Nelly Sachs; Diversity and Community in Sweden in film and the arts; Writings and Response to Ayaan Hirsi Ali; Roundtable on Salmon Rushdie’s “Joseph Anton: A Memoir”; Hannah Arendt in the Humanities; Ethnic Europe; Conscience; Democracy in Adversity and Diversity; Migration and Integration
  • Scholars/Analysts: Francis Fukuyama, Vali Nasr, Olivier Roy, Timothy Garton Ash, Istvan Deak
  • Journalists: John Micklethwait (Editor, the Economist), Josef Joffe (Die Zeit), Frederick Mitterand, Rachel Donadio (New York Times)
  • Policy leaders: Catherine Ashton (EU High Representative and Vice President), Jan Eliasson (former UN Secretary General), Jonathan Phillips (Permanent Secretary, UK Northern Ireland Office), Lionel Jospin (former French Prime Minister), Daniel Cohen Bendit, European Ambassadors to the US, Foreign Ministers and Presidents from Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Algeria, Ukraine, Spain, Basque Region

Hsu’s previous research and teaching explored a wide range of historical and cultural ruptures.  At the University of Chicago, Hsu taught numerous courses on political thought and literature (including themes of “evil”, “revolution”, and the authorial “other” in world literature).  His dissertation on public monuments, history texts, and the political use of the French Revolution forms the basis for his multiple research projects on political and cultural conflict, legitimacy, and reconciliation in Europe.  His dissertation reveals the role of history and revolution in legitimizing modern French regimes.  Hsu employed humanistic and social science methods from multiple disciplines to investigate visual arts, audience response, political philosophy, and historical schools of thought of the modern European nation-state. 

At the University of Idaho, Hsu was Assistant Professor of History, completing research on visual representations of revolution and reception theory in nineteenth-century France, and teaching undergraduate and graduate courses on nineteenth-century European intellectual and political history, world history (ancient through modern), empire, colonial and emancipation eras, and the French Revolution.

At Stanford, Hsu was awarded a three-year Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship in the Introduction to Humanities Program.  Serving as a Fellow he conducted research on collective memory, and was inspired by Stanford faculty and students to turn his focus to post-conflict and post-atrocity research.  He has increasingly focused on investigating the history and future of post-conflict studies and models for truth and reconciliation and emancipation, using material and methods from the humanities (history, philosophy, literary criticism, visual arts) and the social sciences (political science, sociology, anthropology.)

Hsu brings more than ten years of research and administrative leadership experience to help steer the Stanford Humanities Center.  Before his appointment to the Humanities Center, Hsu teamed with staff and faculty to build the Europe Center from its founding as the European Forum, to its growth into the Forum on Contemporary Europe, and ultimately a research center at Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.

Hsu’s contributions to the growth of the Europe Center included building multiple research scholar exchange and fellowships (with new funding) for residencies at the Europe Center.  Hsu also cultivated institutional partnerships with more than six European universities for on-going cooperative programming and scholar exchange.

Previously at Stanford, Hsu served as:

  • Associate Director of the Europe Center at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and Stanford Global Studies 
  • Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Advising and Research
  • Acting Associate Director of the Introduction to Humanities Program

Hsu earned his Ph.D. in Modern European History at the University of Chicago.  He holds an M.A. in Art History from Chicago, and a dual B.A. in Art History and also English Literature from the University of California, Berkeley.

Other Affiliations

Stanford Humanities Center