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Asien-Orient-Institut UFSP Asien und Europa (2006–2017)

On to New Shores

Ralph Weber, senior researcher and lecturer at the URPP Asia and Europe since 2008, was appointed to assistant professor at the University of Basel’s Institute for European Global Studies (Europainstitut) in the Fall semester of 2014.

Wolfgang Behr

It was with mixed feelings that we learned that Ralph Weber would move to an assistant professorship at the University of Basel’s Europainstitut in the Fall semester of 2014. While we happily congratulate him on this well-deserved step in his academic career, we must also acknowledge the void he has left in our research program, which he greatly supported over the last six years. Coordinating the research activities of five participating professors, several postdocs, doctoral students, and associate researchers in Research Field 1, his engagement went far beyond the area of “Concepts and Taxonomies.” He will be fondly remembered for his productive engagement with many of the URPP’s other research areas and for his methodological support for the Ph.D. projects pursued in them.

Ralph read political science, politics, economics and law at both the University of St. Gallen and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva before broadening his international experience at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and at Beida. He was employed as a teaching and research assistant at the University of St. Gallen, where he obtained his doctorate in 2007. He continued to teach the history of political ideas and political theory at St. Gallen until his recent appointment in Basel.

During his employment at the URPP, Ralph pursued his habilitation on comparative philosophy, focusing on Chinese philosophical and political thought, traditional Confucianism and its instrumentalization in China and reception in the West, but also exploring a diverse range of other topics from the Hittites to Xi Jinping. Even with upcoming deadlines for his papers, he always had an open ear for the scientific issues of junior colleagues, who enjoyed the espresso in his office while benefitting from his stimulating advice.

Ralph’s interest in interdisciplinary collaboration was also evident in his many teaching activities, such as the well received course on “Political philosophy meets political geography,” which he co-taught with geographer Benedikt Korf and political philosopher Urs Marti. Moreover, Ralph was engaged in the URPP Asia and Europe’s cooperation with the Centre for African Studies at the University of Basel. And for many years, he led the biweekly discussion group of Research Field 1, gathering doctoral students and postdocs from various disciplines and reminding them often of the potential pitfalls of concepts, canons, and comparisons central to their work.

Apart from his prolific teaching activities, Ralph produced a stunning number of publications during his time at the URPP and contributed to the organization of many conferences and workshops, such as “Varieties of Modernity?” (2009) and “What is philosophy” (2011). He also found time for his work as the European book review editor for Philosophy East and West, and served as co-chair of the section on political theory for the Swiss Political Science Association.

As members of the URPP Asia and Europe, we hope that Ralph’s departure will really just be the beginning of a new phase of cooperation, and, for many of us, friendship. We wish him all the best in his transition to and his work at the University of Basel!

(Asia & Europe Bulletin, 4/2015, p. 23)