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Research and Innovation interests

Currently, Dr Mirra’s postdoctoral research project focuses on everyday activities beyond the art studios, galleries and institutions which enliven the city and are accessible to anyone in China, including square dancing, water calligraphy, montaged restaurants and the grassroots’ construction of temples, among others.

Her research methods include fieldwork, archival research, interviews, critical theory and philosophical investigation, and qualitative, empirical visual analysis.

Dr Mirra’s PhD project focussed on how China’s contemporary visual arts align and/or alter the understandings and imaginings of urban space beyond official narratives. It extended the existing literature on urban aesthetics by interpreting contemporary artistic and creative practices against the current ideology of the China Dream in the following Chinese metropolises: Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Chongqing. Through the visual analysis of selected works and practices responding to the complex urban policies and practices in Chinese cities, Dr Mirra’s PhD thesis concluded that there are bilateral interlinkages between visual arts and space-making that are regulated by the everchanging dynamics between artists and state-power. Her findings will be published by Amsterdam University Press (under contract). 

During her Fellowship at the Chair of Chinese Culture and Society, University of St Gallen (2021 - 22), she investigated selected visual narratives to the Belt and Road Initiative.



Dr Federica is a Leverhulme Early Career Research Fellow at the Centre for Chinese Visual Arts at Birmingham City University (BCU), UK. Her three-year postdoctoral research project, The City as Art: Living Aesthetics in Twenty-First Century China, examines everyday, public activities and phenomena in the urban space, including water calligraphy, square dance and the montage restaurant Changsha Wenheyou, among others. She obtained her PhD at BCU in 2022, funded by the AHRC-Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership. Previously, Dr Mirra worked as Research Fellow at the Chair of Chinese Culture and Society, University of St Gallen, Switzerland, as Visiting Lecturer at BCU and Research Assistant and Curatorial Assistant in HE and the art sector.

Education/Academic qualification

Chinese studies, Masters Degree - Taught, MA East Asian Studies (Specialisation Chinese), Leiden University

Sept 201531 Aug 2016

Award Date: 31 Aug 2016

Supervised by
  • Landsberger, Stefan

BA, BA Chinese Studies, Ca' Foscari University of Venice

Sept 201217 Jul 2015

Award Date: 17 Jul 2015

Supervised by
  • Rastelli, Sabrina

contemporary visual arts in China, 7.5: Masters Degree - Taught (UK Institution), MA Contemporary Arts China (distinction), Birmingham City University

Sept 2017Jul 2018

Supervised by
  • Merlin, Monica

External positions

Research Fellow, University of St. Gallen

1 Sept 202131 Oct 2022


  • N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
  • contemporary Chinese arts
  • living aesthetics
  • urban aesthetics


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