Interconnections Between the Suggested Dissertation Topics

The research subthemes and the suggested dissertation topics are designed to weave an integrated fabric of insights into future conceptions in East Asia that highlights continuities and differences in time and space. Our group calls for doctoral dissertations that address future conceptions arising, flourishing, and dissolving during this period as well as their formative historic grounding, thereby focusing on different regions, stakeholders, and functional areas. The individual research agendas are connected on a fundamental level by their shared interest in East Asian conceptions of future. On a secondary level research initiatives are linked to each other via a multitude of transdisciplinary interfaces that not only allow but require dialogue between disciplines in order to understand the forces that shape a specific phenomenon.

Ancient philosophy is one of the focal points even in the present-day political rhetoric in China and must be incorporated in the analysis of modern policy making, economic policy as well as China’s contemporary political economy as such. Topics concerning the period between 1850 and 1950 concern the roughly one hundred years considered as humiliating in the Chinese and Korean discourse, but as a period of ascendance and global self-assertion for Japan. It is a period when for some, future seemed bleak or non-existing, while others vigorously took to active planning, for example, urbanism and modern industries.

Comparison, contrast, the analysis of travelling knowledge etc. allow for innovative perspectives and promise new insights. After the great hiatus in the mid-twentieth century, experienced by many as cataclysmic, our project continues with the time when globalization began in the 1980s. Some political and economic horizons seemed to open up, but the economic rise first of the smaller states and regions and then of China also saw the flip side. Most recently, as nationalism is on the rise again, globalization seems to be less robust than it was in the first decades of the twenty-first century.

In their entirety these research projects address a key topic of social development in East Asia from different disciplinary angles. Still, they are closely connected as the research agendas significantly overlap and leading research in the field is building bridges between disciplines for the attainment of academic progress.

In sum, when Hölscher (2002) suggests that people face the future with more enthusiasm and formulate more visions in certain periods than in others, in China the first and second decades of the twenty-first century have certainly been future-oriented (Callahan 2013). Will the year 2023 be the turning point? While the Corona crisis appears to be coming to an end, the Russian invasion into Ukraine has triggered a fundamental reassessment of the values and powers that shape the global system.

Therefore, our group proposes the systematic in-depth analysis of past aspirations and close observation and interpretation of new forms of thinking about the future from the perspectives of the humanities and the social sciences. Past aspirations matter because they constitute an important reservoir of knowledge and thought.

The analyses to be conducted in this GRK 2833 will also help to come to terms with traditions “invented” to legitimate political action. “Learning” political systems reflect on their own past, including past conceptions of the future, but they also infer their actual policy experiments through observation of other systems in East Asia and worldwide.