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Prof. Dr. Chenxi Tang

Prof- Dr. Chenxi Tang

Fellow in the project "A Translingual Conceptual History of Chinese Worlds" (May-July 2022)

Short Biography

Chenxi Tang is professor of German at the University of California at Berkeley. He studied comparative literature, German literature, and philosophy at Fudan University, Peking University, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich (MA), and Columbia University (PhD). He taught at the University of Chicago before joining the Berkeley faculty in 2007. He publications include The Geographic Imagination of Modernity: Geography, Literature, and Philosophy in German Romanticism (Stanford University Press, 2008); Imagining World Order: Literature and International Law in Early Modernity Europe, 1500-1900 (Cornell University Press, 2018).


Parallel Visions of World Order: The Chinese and the European, 500 BCE – 1800 CE

This book project compares some key dimensions of the two parallel symbolic universes that took shape separately on the eastern and western flanks of the Eurasian continent in the space of two and a half millennia – from the middle of the first millennium BCE to the eve of the arrival of Western powers in China in the nineteenth century. Experimenting with a synchronistic method, this project focuses on three periods crucial to both: the so-called axial age (ca. 800 – 200 BCE), the centuries between 1000-1300, and those between 1650-1800. A careful reading of seminal texts in both traditions reveals stark contrasts between the idea of “China” and the idea of “Europe”, between the Chinese “way” and the European “law”, between the Chinese “all under the heaven” and the European “international law”. These contrasts, overridden temporarily by European imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, are again coming to the fore today and promise to shape the world for the foreseeable future.