After obtaining a bachelor degree in social work (1994) and a bachelor and master degree in Chinese Studies (1998), and following an intensive course in modern Chinese at Sichuan University (1999), I started to work as a freelance trainer of Chinese culture and interpreter/translator in companies (Alcatel, Bayer, BASF) and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Later, I worked for three years for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs as chief representative of the Netherlands Business Support Office in the North of China (Shenyang). In this period, I became very fascinated by the rapid social changes in China and by the way Chinese people deal with them. At the same time, these three years immensely increased my insight into and intuitive sense of Chinese cultural patterns, behavior, and nuances, vital for understanding the characteristically Chinese cultural, social and psychological phenomena that I study now. After my long working experience in China, I took up a teaching and research assignment at the Department of Eastern Languages and Cultures of Ghent University, where I obtained my PhD with a thesis on the popular saying Nande hutu (‘It is difficult to be muddled’) and ‘The art of being muddled’ in contemporary Chinese society (public defence December 2012).
My research now mainly deals with the philosophical, psychological and sociological dimensions of Chinese philosophies of life related to (non-)wisdom, happiness and wellbeing with a cross-disciplinary approach in linguisitic and medical anthropology and intellectual history/philosophy. My broader research interests focus on health strategies and indigenous psychology, and how they are interpreted and evaluated in contemporary society. Another interest is in embodiment and how the body is a neverending locus of inquiry into subjective experiences, but also a locus of control and agency. My research is always rooted in a multi-method approach, taking language used in interviews and life narratives as starting point, and more recently, combining these with digital ethnography.
From 2015-2019, I also worked as post-doc fellow for the Huoshen Foundation at the Department of Special Needs Education (Orthopedagogics), where I conducted research on body-based working with youth and body-based health strategies.
I still regularly visit China to keep in touch with the fast and often disorienting societal changes.
At the Department of Chinese Studies at Ghent University:
Bachelor Chinese Studies for BA2 and BA3:
- listening comprehension, grammar exercises, reading comprehension, newspaper reading, practical Chinese (manuals, contracts, job application), legal texts (modern Chinese)
- supervisor and reading commissioner for BA papers
Master Chinese Studies:
- Contemporary Chinese Literature
- China in the Media
- reading commissioner for MA dissertations (average 3/year since 2008)
Co-Supervisor Master theses (completed theses):
Pauline Magerman, 'Het milieurecht en zijn plicht: over de relatie tussen de burger en de overheid in het nieuwe milieubeleid van China' (2020)
Emilie Dooms, 'China's economische diplomatie met Europa: directe buitenlandse investeringen in de vorm van fusies en overnames' (2018)
Jeroen De Proft, 'Kunstdistrict 798 in Beijing - Analyse van een artistiek fenomeen in de Volksrepubliek China' (2018)
Caini Pun, 'De effecten van de Chinese economische hervormingen van 1978 op de vleesconsumptie in China' (2018)
Björn Samyn, 'Less English and more Chinese? Discourse analysis of the" Gaokao" and Li Yang's" Crazy English" ' (2017)
At the Department of Special Needs Education ("Orthopedagogiek") at UGent, where I am affiliated as post-doctoral researcher (10%), I teach one course on body-based practices in working with youth, using phenomenological rationales as theoretical framework, and was co-supervisor for the following completed theses:
Alexandra Kalonji Mbuyi, 'De positie van de trainer in mindfulness training: een kwalitatief onderzoek' (2019)
Adelina Rosseel, 'Inzicht in het psychofysiek leerproces bij Jiu-Jitsu bij adolescenten en jongvolwassenen en zijn orthopedagogische relevantie' (2018)
Occasional courses at Ghent University on aspects of Chinese indigenous psychology, intercultural communication, and corporate culture-leadership styles with a focus on China.
I regularly lecture at other European countries often through Erasmus staff exchange programmes, and in China and Taiwan via bilateral agreement programmes with our partner institutes (Renmin University, Shanghai University, Nanjing University, Sichuan University, Liaoning University,...).
From 2014-2016, I taught the postgraduate course 'Dealing with China: Intercultural Management Issues' at the Brussels Diplomatic Academy of the Free University Brussels (VUB).
See CV attached.
Membership in Committees
Member PhD Board of Examiners:
Member PhD Supervisory Committee:
Member Expert Committee:
Invited evaluator as China expert in the PhD workshops (August, 2022)
Active Membership in Research Groups / Member Academic Assocations
Member of the Flemish “Expert database”.
Occasional appearance on or expert advisor for national and international public media (e.g. VRT, German podcast, Economist) for issues related to Chinese language, culture and in particular issues related to contemporary China. Some examples:
Lectures/workshops on aspects of Chinese language and culture in secondary schools and in schools for gifted children during project weeks (e.g. Talentvol 2018 and 2022), in cultural, health, tourist and information centres (e.g. Amazone, Gezinsbond, public library De Krook), and for academia-related activities (e.g. “University for Children” at Ghent University).
Occasional interpretation and translation of documents for governmental, cultural, social or didactic purposes in the public sphere, the last one being the lecture of director Wang Bing at the “State of Cinema 2022 - Wang Bing” Festival at Bozar (see https://www.bozar.be/nl/kalender/state-cinema-2022-wang-bing)