As a sociocultural anthropologist, Dr. Carstens has conducted a series of ethnographic research projects with ethnic Chinese in Malaysia that focus on issues of identity, religion, ethnohistory, gender, and (more recently) language practices and ideologies. Between 2005 and 2011, Dr. Carstens researched how Chinese culture was taught in K-8 Bilingual Mandarin/English programs in Beijing, Hong Kong, San Francisco, and Edmonton, and then collaborated with four Portland based K-8 Chinese teachers to produce a co-authored bilingual monograph, Language Through Culture, Culture Through Language: A Framework for K-8 Mandarin Curriculum published by Peking University Press in 2013. Returning to Malaysia for Sabbatical research in 2013-2014, Dr. Carstens has embarked on a new qualitative ethnographic research project that explores language identities and ideologies among younger generation multi-lingual Chinese Malaysians.
Dr. Carsten's research interests include cultural anthropology, symbolic anthropology, identity, gender, ethnohistory, education; China, Malaysia, Southeast Asia, and Asian Americans.
2015 “The Global Dimensions of Linguistic Choice: Chinese Malaysian Perspectives” Presented at Global Asias Conference, Pennsylvania State University, April 9-11.
2014 Invited Presentations, IKMAS (Institute of Malaysian and International Studies), Universiti Kabangsaan Malaysia; Taylor University (Subang Jaya, Malaysia) “Language Identities and Ideologies: A Preliminary Research Report.” May 20, May 22, 2014.
2014 Invited Public Lectures: “Multi-Lingual Chinese in Multi-ethnic Malaysia.” New Era College (Kajang, Malaysia), March1; SEGi University (Petaling Jaya, Malaysia), March 24; University Malaya School of Languages and Linguistics, April 17.
2015 “Bilingual Education for Global Citizenship: Creating an Integrated Language/Culture Curriculum for Mandarin/English Students. Human Organization 74 (1): 16-26.
2015 Review of Sinophone Malaysian Literature: Not Made in China by Alison Groppe. Journal of Asian Studies Vol 74 (3): 724-726.
2013. Language Through Culture, Culture Through Language: A Framework for K-8 Mandarin Curriculum (教汉语教文化：贯连小学初中的汉语教学策略) (Bilingual: English and Chinese). (Chief Editor: Carstens; Authors: Carstens, Whyte, Cheng; Translators: Zhao, Wang, Carstens). Peking University Press. 434 pp.
2013 New Questions, New Directions in Malaysian Chinese Studies. In 论文集：第一届马来西亚清华人研究双年会 (Collected Essays: Malaysian Chinese First Biennial Research Conference). Kuala Lumpur: Centre for Malaysian Chinese Studies. Pp. 15- 50.