Collegiate Affiliation

Runchao Liu (she/her/they/them) specializes in critical media/cultural studies with a particular interest in sound-centered cultural practices and performances for ways they intersect with social justice and artistic activism. Her scholarship pivots around the interdisciplinary, transhistorical, and multisensory capabilities of popular music. Liu’s research philosophy weaves together feminist and queer theory, critical race/ethnicity studies, sound and affect, and performance activism through a comparative and transnational approach.

She is currently on the University of Minnesota’s Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship to complete her project tentatively titled Sounding Orientalism: Sonic Affect, Musical Radicals, and Countercultural Troubles. This project unsettles the idea that Orientalized aesthetics and affects are only tools for nefarious agendas by unraveling how Asian American women rockers and indie musicians (ranging from the 1970s to the present) have transformed and reclaimed musical Orientalism as an artistic and political tool to dismantle the cultural myth of Asian American apoliticism. From the resurgence of the Oriental riff since post-60s popular music to post-punk's postmodern experimentations, from the women's music movement to queercore and riot grrrl, from Fanny and Tribe 8 to Japanese Breakfast and Mitski, this project investigates how the sounds, diasporic sensibilities, and imperialist imaginations of Asian America unveil the limitations of hegemonic formulations of musical activism and the relationship between sound, identity, and affect.

Educational Background & Specialties
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Educational Background

  • Ph.D.: Communication Studies, University of Minnesota, 2021 (expected) -


  • Critical Media Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Critical Race Studies
  • Feminist and Queer Theory
  • Music and Sound Studies
  • Asian American Studies
  • Performance Studies
  • Affect Theory