DLC Funded Research

SFU Researchers' Projects Funded by the DLC

SFU David Lam Centre (DLC) offers funding opportunities to continuing DLC Members interested in organizing events and conducting projects that support the goals of the Centre. Besides projects listed below, also visit our events page for other events sponsored by the DLC.

Major projects

Exploring Interconnectedness in Cantonese Language Processing
John Alderete, Department of Linguistics

Research Project

The Principal Investigator (PI) will use the seed funding to develop an existing database in order to enhance our understanding of the role of interconnectedness among words in the Cantonese mental lexicon, and how this interconnectedness impacts speaking in Cantonese. This research will support an Insight Grant application at SSHRC (applied concurrently) and help the PI to raise the profile of his research by extending his network of linguists and psycholinguists. In doing so, it will raise the profile of the David Lam Centre and the university.

The research builds on the Simon Fraser University Speech Error Database (Cantonese), a database of speech errors created from natural conversations in Cantonese. Speech errors, or slips of tone, are an important empirical domain for studying the mental life of speaking. By examining the patterns in large collections of speech errors, researchers can make inferences about how speech is created through a sequence of distinct production processes. The proposed research seeks to examine how words are interconnected with other words in Cantonese in terms of the sounds that they share, and if this interconnectedness affects speech production. The so-called cluster co-efficient gives a measure, for each word, that is a function of how many words there are in the lexicon that differ in only a single sound, and further, how many of the related words also differ in a single sound. The existence of these sound-based word networks has been shown in languages like English to reduce speech accuracy, but research on under-studied languages like Cantonese does not currently inform this question. This research will extend the current speech error database by creating a sound-based network for Cantonese, and then assess how the cluster co-efficient impacts speech errors.  

Making Chinese Grassroots Documents from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s Available to the Global Scholarly Community
Jeremy Brown, Department of History

Research Project

Since 2004 Professor Brown has been collecting grassroots documents from flea markets and private vendors in China. These files have been discarded by offices, work units, and archives in China because these places have determined that they are no longer worth keeping. For historians these documents are a treasure trove, revealing how government and Communist Party officials at the lowest levels of the grassroots (city neighbourhoods, villages, and local police stations) interacted with ordinary citizens during the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. These sources have greatly enhanced my books and articles. The Lam Centre has generously funded a two grants project to make these sources available to the broader scholarly community via the PRC History Transparency Project website, which is now online at

The second grant not only helped to make the PRC History Transparency website more complete, it also allowed for substantial progress on a new, bigger database—the Grassroots Chinese History Archive (GCHA)—currently under construction with assistance from the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab at the SFU Library.

This phase three proposal will support graduate research assistantships to make even more grassroots Chinese history documents available to the scholarly community.

Art Exchange and Modernism in Socialist China (1949-1979)
Shuyu Kong, Department of Humanities

Workshop and Research Project

Socialist Modernism is an international research cooperation and publication project which was launched in 2017. The purpose of this initiative is to examine the variety of creative styles and artistic practices in socialist China that go beyond the official prescription of socialist realism, and provide an alternative approach to the mainstream narrative of art history based on a simplistic, Cold War influenced East-West dichotomy: capitalist modernism v. socialist realism.

The proposed workshop, “Art Exchange and Modernism in Socialist China (1949-1979),” is the most recent of a series, building on two previous workshops, “Re-visiting Chinese Modernism” and “Realism or Modernism: Cold War Perspectives and Choices,” which were held in China in November 2018 and May 2019. This workshop will be held in Vancouver, and focuses on global exchanges among leftwing artists and their impacts on Chinese art during the most rigid period of socialist China. The workshop presentations will reveal the variety of intellectual origins and foreign influences in socialist modernism: from Romanian Artist Eurgene Popa, who taught in China in 1960, to the extensive artistic exchanges between China and Mexico in 1950s, to the art exhibitions organized by UK, Canada and Australia in China during the 1950s and 1970s. Together they present a complex art history in which alternative aesthetic inspiration was sought by artists, and discreet international artistic exchanges continued even in the isolated environment of Maoist China.

This project will not only help us to better understand the continuity and changes in modern Chinese art from 1920s to 1980s, but will also contribute new perspectives to recent scholarship on socialist modernism, which still tends to focus primarily on the architecture and arts of the former Eastern Bloc Europe.