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Intellectual History - Team

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Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz

Joachim Kurtz joined the Cluster as Professor of Intellectual History in Summer 2009. Before his assignment in Heidelberg, he was an Associate Professor of Chinese at Emory University and a Research Group Director at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin. He has studied at Hamburg, Beijing, Berlin, Shanghai, Göttingen and Erlangen and held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. His research focuses on cultural and intellectual exchanges between China, Japan and Europe, with special emphasis on practices of argumentation, logic, political theory, rhetoric, translation studies, and historical semantics.  

Karl Jaspers Centre
Voßstraße 2, Building 4400
Room 119
69115 Heidelberg

Office hours: Tuesdays, 4-5 pm, and by appointment

Phone: +49 (0) 6221 54 4345

Please sign up for an appointment at Shupin Lang's office: 

Shupin Lang, M.A.
Administrative Assistant

Phone: +49 (0) 6221 - 54 43 44

Dr. Martin Hofmann

Assistant Professor

Martin Hofmann studied Sinology, Philosophy and Public Law at Würzburg University where he completed his Ph.D. thesis on Song dynasty commentaries in 2007. He taught at the universities of Würzburg and Leipzig, held a post-doc fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, and did research at Harvard, the Chinese Academy of Science in Beijing, and Fu Jen University in Taipei. His research interests include Chinese intellectual history, Chinese cartography and history of science. He joined the chair of Intellectual History in Fall 2009.

Phone: +49 (0) 6221 - 54 4383

Project Members

Lorenzo Andolfatto, Ph.D.

Lorenzo Andolfatto received his PhD in Asian and Transcultural Studies from a joint-degree programme between the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and the Jean Moulin Lyon-3 University of Lyon. After one year of teaching and research at the Department of Translation of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, he has joined the Cluster in 2017 as a postdoctoral fellow within the Intellectual History team, in the framework of the HERA project “Uses of the Past”. His research interests develop between early-modern Chinese literature, comparative literature, and translation studies, focusing on the study of late Qing fiction, utopian writing, and science fiction. At the moment he is working on the book Paper Worlds: Chinese Utopian Writing at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century, currently under peer-review by Brill, and scheduled for publication in early 2018. He is also a translator of Chinese fiction and a copy editor for the translation journal Asymptote.


Ph.D. Candidates

Sijia Cheng, M.A.

Sijia Cheng studied Chinese Language and Literature at the University of Fudan in Shanghai and wrote her M.A. thesis about Collecting, Exhibiting and Knowing Animals: A Social History of Peking Zoo (1906-1916) at the Sinology department of Heidelberg University.

Since 2016 she has been working on her Ph.D. thesis on Cultural History of Animal Waste in Late Imperial China as a Doctoral student in the Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies and Sinology.



Georges Jacoby, M.A.

Georges Jacoby studied Classical Sinology and Philosophy at Heidelberg University. He completed his M. A. thesis on Qiu Ying and the conceptual history of the Four Masters of the Ming. His research interests include Late Imperial elite culture, intellectual history and the theory of historiography. Georges is currently working on his dissertation project on the evaluative discourse of painters and calligraphers and the formation of art historical categories in late Ming and early Qing China.


Charlotte Kroll, M.A.

Charlotte Kroll studied Political Science and Chinese Studies at Göttingen University, where she graduated with an M.A. thesis on the impact of the 'Asian values' debate on international human rights discourse. Her research focuses on political theory in 20th century China and translingual encounters in the history of ideas.
Charlotte joined the Cluster in 2010 and is currently working on her Ph.D. thesis on Chinese anti-liberal thought.


Duncan Paterson M.A., M.Phil.

Duncan Paterson joined the cluster as a Ph.D. candidate in November 2012. He received the M.A. in Philosophy and the M.Phil in Chinese Studies from Leiden University. On the philosophy side of things, his work focuses on issues of contemporary metaphysics and theory of mind. As an area specialist, he is particularly curious about the intersection of intellectual history and material culture in the form of printed texts. Previous universities include Tübingen University,  Fudan Univeristy, National Taiwan University, and Harvard University. In his dissertation project, "Epistemic Landscapes in Early Modern China", Duncan approaches paratextual elements of encyclopedic writings from late Ming China with an eye on digital means of interpretation, visualization, and analysis. He is member of the research group "Paratexts" (MC 4.3).


Manuel Sassmann, M.A.

Manuel Sassmann studied Philosophy, Sinology and East Asian Art History at Stuttgart University and Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg, where he graduated with a thesis on the theory of art of the German philosopher Hans Heinz Holz (1927-2011).  He spent about two years abroad studying at Chinese Culture University Taipei, Sun Yat-sen University Kaoshiung, and Tsinghua University Beijing. He also went on several archaeological field trips to China as a team member of the project "Buddhist Stone Scriptures in China" of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences where he has been working as a student assistant for several years.
In January 2013 he joined the Cluster as a Ph.D. Student in the project "Standards of Validity" (MC13.1), pursuing research on modes of argumentation in dialogical texts from Late Imperial China.


Lisa Lindkvist Zhang, M.A.

Lisa Lindkvist Zhang joined the cluster as a PhD Candidate in Autumn 2016. She has previously studied at University College London, Uppsala University, Fudan University and University of Copenhagen. Her PhD dissertation seeks to analyse the politics of Chinese Philosophy in China during the early 20th century. Lisa's research interests revolve around transregional interactions with focus on translation practices, the writing of intellectual history, and the articulation of '[O]therness'. On the side she also enjoys dabbling in modern China-India relations in the Eastern Himalayas.


Associated Researchers

Dr. Andrea Bréard

Andrea Bréard holds Ph.D.'s in Philosophy from the Technical University Berlin and in Epistemology from the Université Denis Diderot Paris 7.  During the last years, she has focused on the political, cultural and social context of the transmission of statistical knowledge and institutions into China at the turn of the 20th century and the entanglement of scientific quantification with political life during the era of constitutional reform. In October 2008, she obtained her Habilitation in History of Science at the Technische Universität Berlin.  She was working at the Excellence Cluster on practices of argumentation by numbers and standards of mathematical validity in late Imperial Chinese discourse. 

She currently holds a professorship at the Université Paris-Sud


Dr. Pablo Blitstein

Pablo Blitstein joined the chair of Intellectual History in 2013 with a project on the relation between text circulation, travel experiences and political imagination in late imperial and early republican China (19th-20th centuries). His research interests are global and conceptual history, with a special focus on the history of writing and political institutions. He has held teaching and research positions at the Collège de France and at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO, France). He studied ancient Greek and Roman Literature and Philosophy at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA, Argentina) and Chinese history at the INALCO, where he completed his Ph.D. dissertation in early medieval Chinese history. He has also conducted research at the National Taiwan University and Peking University. He is co-founder and co-organizer of the Chinese history section of the Research Centre on the Slavic and Chinese Worlds (CEMECH) at the University of San Martín (Argentina).


Dr. Joseph Ciaudo

Dr. Joseph Ciaudo studied Sinology, and Intellectual history at the National Institute of Oriental languages and cultures (Inalco) in Paris. In 2016, he completed there his PhD thesis on cultural discourses in the early twentieth century China. He taught at Inalco and at the University of Strasbourg. His research interests include Chinese intellectual history, the introduction of western philosophy in China, and the conceptual history of ‘culture’ in East Asia at the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. He joined the cluster in 2016, thanks to a postdoctoral grant provided by the Chiang Ching Kuo Foundation in Taiwan.


Dr. Ronald Chung-yam Po

Ronald Chung-yam Po, a native of Hong Kong, completed his doctoral dissertation at Heidelberg in 2013 and was working as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of East Asian Studies, McGill University. His research interests focus on the history of Late Imperial China, maritime studies, Sino–foreign relations, and the history of frontiers. As of now he is employed as an assistant professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science in the Department of International History.


Dr. Rui Magone

Rui Magone, a graduate of Freie Universität Berlin, wrote his Ph.D. thesis on the late imperial Chinese civil service examination system (“Once every three years: People and papers at the metropolitan examination of 1685”). He worked as an Assistant Professor of Chinese Studies at Freie Universität Berlin and Emory University, and as a research fellow at the Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science, Berlin, and at the Center for the History of Science at the University of Lisbon.
In the cluster, he is primarily involved in the sub-project “Paratexts in Late Imperial Chinese Book Culture”, which is part of the research project "Frames" (MC 4). His research is mainly focused on the epistemic culture of late imperial China, in particular civil service examinations and Sino-Portuguese relations.


Egas Moniz-Bandeira, ass. iur.

Egas Moniz-Bandeira was member of the research project "Global Concepts" (MC 5).

He currently works as department member of the Centro de Estudios de Asia Oriental at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.


Dr. Helena Jaskov

Dr. Helena Jaskov studied Chinese Studies and Japanese Studies at Heidelberg University, where she comleted her M.A. thesis on the significance of maps at the negotiation of the first border treaty between Russia and China (1689). Her research interests include the history of science, frontier history, the history of Chinese cartography and the history of emotions.
Helena joined the Cluster in 2013 as a member of the project "Melancholy" (MC 11.2) and finished her Ph.D. thesis on melancholia in Meiji-Japan in 2017. Since April 2017 she has been working as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the historical seminar at the University of Zürich.


Oyndrila Sarkar, M.A.

Oyndrila Sarkar joined the Cluster's Graduate Programme For Transcultural Studies (GPTS) in October 2013. Her doctoral project explored the antecedents of the construction of the Indian state through a study of the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India (GTSI) and its survey operations. It studied the work and the working relationships the GTSI entailed, and inanimate objects viz. the tools and instruments of surveying seen as relevant social actors in these survey networks, and looks at the men, materials and the non-methodical methods of state formation on the borderlands of what became the Indian state.

She is currently working as Assistant Professor at the Presidency University in Kolkata.


Matthias Schumann, M.A.

Matthias Schumann pursues a research project entitled "Between Science and Superstition: Spirit-Writing Organizations in Early Republican China and their Quest for Legitimacy."


Dr. Chen Shuai

Dr. Chen Shuai got his M.A. degree from Peking University in 2013 and completed his Ph.D. thesis on Buddhist logic (Rethinking Indian Buddhist Logic in Tang China: An Analysis and Translation of the Sādhana Section of Kuiji’s Commentary on the Nyāyapraveśa) at the Cluster in 2018. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Yuelu Academy of Hunan University. His research interests include Buddhist philosophy and Chinese intellectual history.


Dr. Dominic Steavu

Dominic Steavu worked at the Cluster as Assistant Professor of Intellectual History from 2009 to 2012. He currently is Assistant Professor for Chinese Religions and Chinese Buddhism at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His areas of specialization include Buddho-Daoist interchange, early Daoism and its connections to Han imperial cults, and Esoteric Buddhism in China and Japan.


Christian Straube, M.A.

Christian Straube studied Modern Sinology and Political Science of South Asia and Economics at Heidelberg University. He currently is a Ph.D candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale, Germany. In his project he deals with social networks at Chinese-run copper mines on the Copperbelt in Zambia.


Xu Chun, M.A.

Xu Chun graduated in 2012 from School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London with a Master of Arts with Distinction in History: East Asia. He was a doctoral student in the Cluster’s Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Joachim Kurtz and Prof. Dr. Gerrit Schenk, working on his project Shifting Perceptions and State Strategies towards Natural Hazards and Disasters in Late Imperial China. His research interests include environmental thought in traditional China and politics and cultures of disaster in disparate societies.

At the moment he works as a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, working on a project that examines the political epistemology of water control in imperial China.


Research Assistants

Marcella Huneus
B.A. Chinese Studies

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