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Sinology in Würzburg

Current projects

Here you can find an overview current research projects being conducted at the Sinology department in Würzburg.

Remote Ethnography of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (2023-2025)

The EU-funded project Remote Ethnography of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is a collaboration between Rune Steenberg (Palacký University, Olomouc), Vanessa Frangeville, Université libre de Bruxelles) and Björn Alpermann (JMU Würzburg) and started in January 2023. (HORIZON-WIDERA-2021-ACCESS-03-01 PROJECT 101079460)

Six years after the explosion of mass incarceration of minoritised people in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR), a general picture of the atrocities has been established in global media, policy circles and beyond. However, due to a lack of access to the region this picture remains imprecise. This project addresses this issue by aiming to become a hub for state-of-the-art truth finding focussed research on XUAR. The project puts focus on methods of remote research, including online research, textual and image analyses, critical remote sensing techniques and interviews in diaspora and with people exiting China from the region. Besides collecting, storing, critically examining and updating information from XUAR, it is also a goal of the project to contribute to the development of remote research methods. We view remote research not as a substitute for but as a complementary approach to on-the-ground research, all having their own different advantages that can be used to balance out their respective weaknesses. Our goal is to develope our own approach which we call Remote Ethnography – a holistic approach that includes a wide range of different topics, material, observations and experiences that are brought together within an open analytical frame, the aim of which is to understand and include as many different perspectives and types of material as possible.

Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking (BMBF 2020 – 2023)

A sub-project of the joint-research initiative ‘Worldmaking from a Global Perspective: A Dialogue with China’ (BMBF 2020 – 2023), this research programme examines the concrete political and social effects of globalization on China’s cities, both in term of authoritarian government structures and forms of governance, from a social science perspective. The project is jointly led by Prof. Dr. Björn Alpermann (University of Würzburg) and Prof. Dr. Elena Meyer-Clement (FU Berlin).

Learning from the 'frontrunner'? A multidisciplinary analysis of the Chinese Social Credit System and its impact on Germany (bidt 2020 – 2023)

China’s social credit system (SCS) is a system that aims to improve moral behaviour, financial reliability and social control by deploying technologies with artificial intelligence capabilities. It is one of the most significant examples of radical digital innovation and the largest attempt in social engineering to date. Its impact goes beyond China, as it affects foreign companies and individuals operating in the country. Against this backdrop, this interdisciplinary project investigates the opportunities and risks that arise from China’s digital transformation (via the SCS) and implications for Germany, its companies and society. This collaborative project is led by Prof. Dr. Doris Fischer, Prof. Dr. Eugénia da Conceição-Heldt (Technical University of Munich (TUM)) and Prof. Dr. Jens Großklag (TUM). The project is funded by the Bavarian Research Institute for Digital Transformation (bidt).

An Interdisciplinary Study on East Asian Works of Arts and Culture Concerning the Visible and/or Invisible Entities (2019-2022)

The project brings together experts from archaeology, art, religion and East Asian (state) philosophy, i.e. Buddhism, Daoism, Shinto and Confucianism. Leading representatives from these subject areas will meet four times a year under Dr. Sotomura’s leadership for meetings lasting several days. Experts include professors from the universities of Kyoto, Tokyo and Kobe, as well as curators from the national museums of Kyoto and Nara. They are joined by selected foreign scientists.

The importance of renewable energies for local self-regulation in China (DFG project 2019 – 2021)

This project is a sub-project of the DFG research group LoSAM and investigates local self-regulation in China in relation to the use of renewable energies. The project, led by Professor Dr. Doris Fischer, analyses how local regulations emerge in the context of China’s rapidly advancing energy transition, how regulations are formally and informally negotiated and shaped, and how they affect the relationship between local and state actors.

Political Steering of Strategic Industries in China: Assessing renewable energy transition management (DFG 2018 – 2020)

The government under Xi Jinping has introduced both new mechanisms of political governance that involve new approaches and instruments of economic policy in a series of political documents, including the ‘Decision of the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress’ (2013), as well as more concrete programmes, such as ‘Made in China 2025) and the 13th Five-Year-Plan. Against this background, this project examines how industrial policy is shaped and implemented under the Xi administration and what role is assigned to actors at the local level. The focus on industrial policy in renewable energy technologies (wind, solar and the smart grid) promises additional important insights into the interplay between industrial, innovation and sustainability policy. The project is conducted by Prof. Dr. Doris Fischer in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Sabrina Habich-Sobiegalla (FU Berlin).

GSik – Global Systems and Intercultural Competence

The project ‘Global Systems and Intercultural Competence’ (GSiK) is a joint concept covering several faculties at the University of Würzburg. It was initiated by the Faculty of Law and is financed by student feeds.

The seminar ‘Intercultural Competence’ is offered regularly in the winter semester and can be credited towards a GSiK certificate.

Current and completed dissertation projects

For an overview of current and completed dissertation projects by staff, doctoral students and associates of the Sinology department in Würzburg, please click here.