Evelyn Wan

Evelyn Wan is a PhD Candidate at the Institute for Cultural Inquiry (ICON) at Utrecht University. Her research is supported by the R. C. Lee Centenary Scholarship from her hometown, Hong Kong. She holds a Research MA cum laude in Media & Performance Studies (2014) and an MA cum laude in Comparative Women’s Studies in Culture and Politics (2011), both from Utrecht University. Prior to her post-graduate studies in the Netherlands, she graduated with First Class Honours from the programme Bachelor of Social Sciences (Government and Laws) at the University of Hong Kong.  Her current research interests include philosophies of experience, new materialism, and affect theory.

Outside of her academic endeavours, Evelyn has worked as a freelance performer in Hong Kong, collaborating with various artists in staging contemporary dance and physical theatre productions at art galleries and creating site-specific performances in the city. She was also a translator and copywriter for Hong Kong International Film Festival, and Taipei Documentary Film Festival, Taiwan.

PhD: ‘Experience’ beyond the subjectified human body: Post-human Re-Readings of Radical Empiricism, Phenomenology and Process Philosophy

What does it mean to suggest that a dancing robot, the operating system on your smartphone, and a piece of rock can also experience the world? This PhD project in its broadest terms looks into philosophies of experience (radical empiricism, phenomenology, and process philosophy) and attempts to read them in a post-human frame of reference. This ‘post-human’ frame refers to an expanded notion of what ‘experience’ could entail if one does not solely focus on the subject of human perception—for instance, going beyond first-person descriptions as offered by classical phenomenology. Whiteheadian process philosophy, for instance, makes use of the concept of prehension in lieu of perception. Prehension involves a kind of worlding where different entities relate and reorder themselves in continuous processes of becoming. While prehension may be subjectified by a human experiencer, the experience is not limited to a human perspective.

This project explores a non-human-centric/ non-subjectified account of experience based on close readings of the three schools of thought together, alongside the many organic and inorganic objects which co-habit the world with human beings. Such an exploration enables a rethinking of the specificity of ‘human’ experience, and the limitations of adhering to a subjectified conception of experience.

(2013) “Mobile Interfaces in Public Spaces: Locational Privacy, Control, and Urban Sociality” (Book Review) In: Digital Icons, Issue 10

(2012) “Converging Beams: Where Light Meets Movement” (Performance Review) in dancejournal/HongKong, Issue 14(1)

(2012) “THIRST: Urban Spaces of Desire” in dancejournal/HongKong, Issue 14 (3)

(2014) “The Temporality of Methodologies: Rereading Radical Empiricism, Phenomenology and Process Philosophy through Dance”. Masters Thesis, Utrecht University.

(2011) “(Re)capturing the ‘Absent’ Memory of the June 4th Incident: An analysis of Lou Ye’s Summer Palace (2006)”. Masters Thesis, Utrecht University.