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Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies URPP Asia and Europe (2006–2017)

Constructions of Political Modernity in Contemporary Chinese Political Thought

Oberassistent (2009–2014): Prof. Dr. Ralph Weber (habilitation 2016)
Funded by: URPP Asian and Europe
Project duration: 2009 - 2013

Detail, Huangshan Gebirge, Provinz Anhui, Volksrepublik China (Oktober 2003)


This project approaches contemporary Chinese political thought from the viewpoint of recent debates in sociology on multiple modernities, understood as a heuristic framework to grasp the social world. In contrast to conceptions of a single modernity, the paradigm of multiple modernities presumes "the existence of culturally specific forms of modernity shaped by distinct cultural heritages and sociopolitical conditions," which will "continue to differ in their value systems, institutions, and other factors" (Eisenstadt). My project engages contemporary Chinese political thought as an arena in which various and conflicting proposals of "Chinese political modernity" are expressed and critically assesses the dynamics of tradition in the continuing crafting of Chinese modernities. In a first step, I will analyse the writings of main proponents of contending ideologies (e.g. Liberalism, New Leftism, Confucianism) and examine their appropriation of non-Chinese as well as Chinese political thought. In a second step, potential contributions to the disciplinary discourse of political theory and philosophy shall be discussed.

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