New Faculty: Shaoling Ma

Shaoling Ma

Associate Professor, Asian Studies

Academic focus:

Global China and Southeast Asia, critical theory, media, science, and technology.

Current research project:

I am currently working on my second book project, “China in Loops.” Beginning from the 1960s and ending in the 2020s, each chapter of the book shows how the rise of a recursive technique and rationality in Taiwan, Singapore, and/or the PRC feeds on the region’s historical tensions to produce self-referential and self-regenerating loops to which art and criticism risk capitulating through technological adaptation. I analyze a wide range of archives from Taiwan’s industry planning to postwar mainland Chinese computing, colonial precision optics in Singapore, smart city-and-port MOUs, and the Chinese Party-State’s promotion of blockchain technologies for circular economies, and the use of geodata along the Belt and Road Initiative, alongside diverse cultural texts encompassing lectures, video art installations, autobiographies, cinema and poetry.

I am interested in reflecting on what it means to examine the self-referential and self-generating systems sustaining the rise of three major Asian information economies, and whether studies of relationality (including my own) inevitably reproduce and multiply the terms of the relations—geopolitical, cultural, technological, or ecological—that are assumed in the first place.

Previous positions:

  • Associate Professor, Humanities (Literature), Yale-NUS College, Singapore, 2023
  • Assistant Professor, Humanities (Literature), Yale-NUS College, Singapore, 2015-2023
  • Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature and Asian Studies, Pennsylvania State University, 2013-2015

Academic background:

  • Ph.D., Comparative literature, University of Southern California, 2012
  • M.A., Comparative literature, University of Southern California, 2008
  • M.A., English (literary studies), National University of Singapore, 2006 
  • B.A., European studies and political science, National University of Singapore, 2004

Last book read:

“Tides of Fortune: Memoirs of Chang Yung-fa,” by Chang Yung-fa

In your own time/when not working:

I love drawing and reading with my two children. I also make time to move—whether it's traveling, exercising, cooking or eating!

Courses you’re most looking forward to teaching:

I'd love to develop an "Intro to Asia Media Studies" for undergraduates, and upper-level or graduate specialized topics in operational media, Cold War technocracies and Asian cybernetics.

What most excites you about Cornell:

I look forward to being part of an interdisciplinary, intellectual community that consistently rethinks the study of Asia and the humanities by actively fostering collaborations across different departments in the College of Arts & Sciences.

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