Assistant Professor of Italian Studies
Associate Head of Italian Studies
Undergraduate Advisor for Minors in Italian Studies (Jan-June)
Undergraduate Advisor for Honours in Romance Studies (Jan-June)

Office Hours:
Wednesday 15:00-16:00
And by appointment

Ph.D., New York University

B.A., Beijing Foreign Studies University

Gaoheng Zhang is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies at the University of British Columbia. He is a humanities scholar of migration, mobilities, multiculturalism, media, rhetoric, ethics, and masculinity. His most recent research seeks to provide a road map for analyzing how mobilities intersect with cultures through case studies about modern Italy’s global networks, which are created through migration, colonialism, tourism, and business travel.

Gaoheng is a leading cultural critic of Chinese migration to Italy, which has generated considerable debate in the Italian, Chinese migrant, and international media because of migrants’ economic clout. This is the subject of his first book titled Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012 (University of Toronto Press, 2019), which is the first detailed media and cultural study of the Chinese migration from both Italian and Chinese migrant perspectives, as well as one of the few book-length analyses of migration and culture. The research for the book was supported by Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities (now the USC Society of Fellows) at the University of Southern California, and its publication was funded by Awards to Scholarly Publications Program and The Schoff Publication Fund AwardPreviously he has published several key articles on gender and ethics in cinematic and literary depictions of migrants, and of men, in Italy.

His new book project (under contract with University of Toronto Press in 2020), titled “Migration and Culture: Mobility between China and Italy via USA,” will offer an innovative critical framework to examine recent Chinese migration to Italy and Italian migration to China in novels, films, photography, the media, and archives, as well as their intersections in American culture. Through analyzing food, architecture, gender, race, and ethics, the book aims to refine theorizing about the dynamics between migration and culture. He has received a SSHRC Insight Development Grant for this project.

Gaoheng spearheaded and co-organized two conferences focused on Italy, China, and East Asia: “Italy and China: Centuries of Dialogue” (University of Toronto, April 2016) and “Italy and East Asia: Exchanges and Parallels” (Stony Brook University, October 2018). He serves on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies (2014-Present) and on the Publications Committee of the Awards to Scholarly Publications Program for Canada’s Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences (2017-20).

At UBC, Gaoheng is an Affiliated Faculty at the Institute for European Studies and at the Asian Canadian and Asian Migration Studies program, and a member of the Steering Committee of UBC Migration.

Before joining UBC, Gaoheng held positions as Assistant Professor of Italian Cinema at the University of Toronto and as a Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities (now the USC Society of Fellows) at the University of Southern California. He was educated at Beijing Foreign Studies University (B.A.) and at New York University (M.A., Ph.D.).

To learn more about Gaoheng’s publications, visit


SSHRC Insight Development Grant, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Government of Canada, 2018-2020.

Visiting Professor, Department of Languages, Literatures and Intercultural Studies, University of Florence, May 2018 and May 2019.

Awards to Scholarly Publications Program, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2018.       

The Arts Undergraduate Research Award (AURA), University of British Columbia, 2017.

The International Work Learn Award, University of British Columbia, 2017.

UBC Hampton Fund Research Grant – New Faculty Award, 2016-18.

The Schoff Publication Fund Award, The University Seminars, Columbia University, 2016.

The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Grant, 2016.

Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholarship in the Humanities (now The USC Society of Fellows), University of Southern California, 2012-14.

Full scholarship from the Refresher Program for Teachers of Italian Abroad, University for Foreigners in Perugia, 2008.


  • Italian Studies
  • Cultural Studies
  • Migration Studies
  • Mobility Studies
  • Gender Studies
  • Masculinity Studies
  • Ethnic and Racial Studies
  • Media and Film Studies
  • Rhetoric and Communication Studies
  • Ethics and Morality


Book projects

  1. Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012

(University of Toronto Press, 2019. Funded by the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholars Program in the Humanities at the University of Southern California, the Schoff Publication Fund Award at Columbia University, and Awards to Scholarly Publications Program by the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences.)

2. “Mobilities and Cultures: Italy, China, North America

(In progress. Funded by UBC Hampton Fund Research Grant – New Faculty Award, 2016-18, The Arts Undergraduate Research Award and The International Work Learn Award, UBC, 2017, and SSHRC IDG 2018-20.)


“Made in Italy by Chinese Migrants,” ElderCollege Delta, British Columbia, 2019.

“Chinese Food Cultures in Italy,” University of California, Irvine, 2019.

“Media Framings of Made in Italy Fast Fashion by Prato’s Chinese Migrants,” University of California, Irvine, 2019

“The Chinaman and the cinesina: Gendering Chinese Migrants in Italian Culture,” University of Florence, 2018.

“Made in Italy or Made in China? Chinese-Italian Cultural Identities in the Age of Migration and Globalization,” Villa La Pietra, New York University in Florence, 2018.

“Made in Italy or Made in China?” University College Cork, 2017 and The Dante Alighieri Society of British Columbia, 2017.

“I cinesi che non muoiono mai. Viaggio tra film, libri e mass media, tra luoghi comuni e (s)commode verità a proposito dell’immigrazione cinese in Italia,” Biblioteca Dergano-Bovisa, Milan, Italy, 2017.

“Recent Italian-Chinese Cultural Relations,” Richard Nasti Lecture Series, The Center for Italian Studies, Stony Brook University, 2016.

“Italian Cinema Looks East,” Department of Italian Language and Literature, Smith College, 2016.

“Contemporary Chinese Immigration to Italy: Encounters and Representations,” University Seminar, Studies in Modern Italy, Columbia University, 2013.



“Migration and Culture: Mobility between China and Italy via USA” (book manuscript under contract with University of Toronto Press in 2020).

Migration and the Media: Debating Chinese Migration to Italy, 1992-2012 (University of Toronto Press, 2019).

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

“The Chinaman and the cinesina: Gendering Chinese migrants in Italian novels.” Journal of Romance Studies, 19/1 (2019), pp. 69-97.

“Documentary films on migrations in Italy: characteristics and ethics. Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 6/1 (2018), pp. 3-14.

“Chinese Migrants, Morality, and Film Ethics in Italian Cinema.” Journal of Modern Italian Studies, 22/3 (2017), pp. 385-404.

“Il razzismo anti-cinese nella stampa italiana e la reazione della stampa migrante cinese: il caso della rivolta della Chinatown milanese,” Studi culturali, 2/2016 (2016), pp. 195-208.

“Insegnare la lingua e la cultura italiane agli studenti di origine cinese in Nord America: nuove risorse didattiche per un approccio multiculturalista,” Cultura & Comunicazione, 6:9 (2016), pp. 23-25.

“Contemporary Italian Novels on Chinese Immigration to Italy,” California Italian Studies Journal, 4:2 (2014), pp. 1-38.

“The Protest in Milan’s Chinatown and the Chinese Immigrants in Italy in the Media (2007-9),” Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 1:1 (2013), pp. 21-37.

“Italian Male Travelers at the Borderline: Masculinities and Liminal Spaces in Lamerica and Il ladro di bambini by Gianni Amelio,” The Italianist (Film Issue) 32 (2012), pp. 238-55.

Peer-reviewed Book Chapters

“Chinese Migrants and the ʻChinese Mafia’ in Contemporary Italian Culture,” in Transcending Borders: Selected Papers in East Asian Studies, edited by Valentina Pedone and Sagiyama Ikuko, pp. 67-86. Firenze: Firenze University Press, 2016.

“Comedy Film and Immigration to Italy: Reading Masculinity, Hybridity, and Satire in Lezioni di cioccolato (2007), Questa notte è ancora nostra (2008), and Into Paradiso (2010),” in The Cinemas of Italian Migration: European and Transatlantic Narratives, edited by Sabine Schrader and Daniel Winkler, pp. 263-279. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013.

“The Three Riddles in Puccini’s Turandot: Masculinity, Empire, and Orientalism,” in Der musikalisch modellierte Mann: Interkulturelle und interdisziplinäre Männlichkeitsstudien zur Oper und Literatur des 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Ester Saletta and Barbara Hindinger, pp. 397-416. Vienna: Praesens, 2012.

Edited Journal Issue
“Documentary Films on Migrations in Italy”. Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 6/1 (2018), pp. 3-122.

“Global Routes: China, Italy, Toronto” (co-curated with Paolo Frascà and Jennifer Lau), an exhibition at the John M. Kelly Library at the University of Toronto (May-June, 2016), at the Carrier Gallery at Columbus Centre in Toronto (July, 2016), and at UBC Robson Square. (Funded by the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, 2016.)

Invited Media Essays
“Made in Italy by Chinese in Prato: The ‘Carrot and Stick’ Policy and Chinese Migrants in Italy,” China Policy Institute Blog, University of Nottingham, UK, October 22, 2015.

“Italy and China, Europe and East Asia: Centuries of Dialogue,” Corriere Canadese, April 5, 2016, p. 16.


“Movement and Mobility – a European Perspective,” The Source, November 7-21, 2017 (Interviewed and cited by Jake McGrail).

“Tra vecchi stereotipi e nuove abitudini inizia l’anno del serpente nelle Chinatown italiane,” Huffington Post Italia, January 30, 2013 (Interviewed and cited by Francesca Bellino).

Film Reviews      

Caffè, by Cristian Bortone (2016),” Journal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies, 6/2 (2018), pp. 252-254.

My Reincarnation, by Jennifer Fox (2011),” Italian American Review, 3/2 (2013), pp. 151-153.

“La Fuga/Escape” by Francesca Bellino, Journal of Italian Translation, VI:1&2 (2011), pp. 100-115.

Co-Edited Volumes

Ed. (With Jessica Goethals and Valerie McGuire) Power and Image in Early Modern Europe. Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008.

Ed. (With Francesco Guardiani and Salvatore Bancheri) Italy and China: Centuries of Dialogue. Firenze: Franco Cesati Editore, 2017.


Winter 2019

FREN512A Studies in Literary Criticism - LIT CRITICISM Sections

Winter 2019

SPAN501A Literary and Cultural Theory - LIT CULT THEORY Sections

Winter 2019

ITST110 "Made in Italy" Sections

Where do Italy's glamour, lifestyle, traditions come from? This course introduces Italy's multifaceted ways of being and the cultural creations of the peninsula in their context.

Winter 2019

ITST432 Italian Cinema and Its Cultural Background Sections

Films with English subtitles. Precludes credit for ITAL 430. Course content will vary. May be taken twice for a total of 6 credits.

Winter 2019

ITST232 Introduction to Italian Culture II: From the Modern to the Post-Colonial Age Sections

The debate around nation vs. empire vs. republic, from the Napoleonic age to our days, as captured in Italy's microcosm, condensing and often anticipating issues that have later become global.