Writing History with China — Chinese Concepts in Transnational Historiography 

Writing History with China — Chinese Concepts in Transnational Historiography 

The Volkswagen Foundation funds the new research project “Writing History with China — Chinese Concepts in Transnational Historiography” of Professor Marc Matten. It aims at redefining the disciplinary boundaries of sinology and historical sciences by analyzing how analytical concepts travel in global history writing.

In recent years historians in China have begun questioning Western models of historiography. The current efforts of Chinese researchers to make their publications available in English translation is part of their ambitions to (rightfully) criticize Eurocentrism, to pursue a deimperialization of historical knowledge production and to disseminate (also as part of soft power policy) a so-called more Chinese understanding of history and culture on a global scale. So far, these ambitions have been discussed intensively in sinology, yet as they address the global community of scholars their academic significance goes far beyond the area studies of China.

The aim of this project is to devise new ways of helping 1. to raise translingual and conceptual awareness for how cultural assumptions and political rhetoric shape both the writing of these texts and our reading of them, and 2. to integrate Chinese history more closely into historical sciences in Europe. In cooperation with global historians in China we aim at identifying the historically and culturally specific conditions of knowledge production and at fathoming the potential—and long-desired—contributions of Chinese historians to the development of a truly global history writing. The project will focus on the current discussions of different methodologies among Chinese historians, ranging from debates on the applicability of so-called Western models to the insistence on a distinct Chinese model.

The compilation of an open-access bilingual handbook on Key Concepts in Modern Chinese Historiography, the publication of annotated translations of contemporary historiographical key texts, as well as international exchange in form of workshops and guest professorships shall foster a transdisciplinary dialogue between sinology and historical sciences at FAU and beyond.

By doing so, we hope to integrate Chinese history more closely into historical sciences curricula and to achieve a broader consideration of Chinese historians’ research in global history writing.

The Volkswagen Foundation supports this project in the coming seven years as part of its Momentum – Funding for Recently Tenured Professors funding line.






Frau Prof. Dr. Simone Derix
Lehrstuhl für Neueste Geschichte und Zeitgeschichte (Prof. Dr. Derix)

Herr Prof. Dr. Marc Matten
Professur für Zeitgeschichte Chinas / Professor of Contemporary Chinese History