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Forum CHINA global


Prof. Dr. Susanne Brandtstädter 

Susanne Brandtstädter is a China anthropologist. She has undertaken long-term ethnographic fieldwork in China and Taiwan since 1991. She is equally interested in cross-cultural comparison as in historical dynamics of change and continuity. Her work has linked research on the transformation of Chinese social worlds under the influence of modern state formation and global economies, with a keen interest in value-oriented action and moral reasoning. After positions in Manchester and Oslo she joined University of Cologne and now holds the Chair in the Anthropology of Globalization which has been established as a part of the institutional strategy of the university. Since 2015 she holds an honorary Adjunct Professor at the Social Anthropology Department of Xiamen University. Since 2015 she is also on the supervisory board of the Stiftung Asienhaus Köln. Her most recent book publications are: Cynicism, Irony and the Chinese State (Routledge 2016) and Popular Politics and the Quest for Justice in Contemporary China (Routledge 2017) both co-edited with Hans Steinmüller from the London School of Economics. Currently she is working with Wilfried Hinsch on a co-authored book manuscript, provisionally entitled Justice and Moral Reasoning in Contemporary China

Prof. Dr. Wilfried Hinsch 

Wilfried Hinsch has published extensively in the fields of moral and political philosophy with a focus on the theory of justice and legitimacy. He also made contributions to the practical ethics of violent international conflict. His latest book publications are Die gerechte Gesellschaft (Stuttgart 2016) and Die Moral des Krieges (München 2017). There is also a Chinese translations of his earlier work on social justice (Gerechtfertigte Ungleichheiten, Berlin/New York 2002) which is currently the subject of intensive discussion at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. Currently he is working on a joint book project with Susanne Brandtstädter on justice and moral reasoning in contemporary China. Since 2016 he holds an honorary adjunct professorship at the Philosophy Department of Xiamen University. 

Forum Coordinator

Amtul Shaheen, M.A. 

Amtul is currently a Doctoral researcher and Lecturer at the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Cologne. Her research interests include globalisation, multiethnic and multireligious societies with a focus on China, Taiwan and Chinese Diapora. The working title of her PhD project is "An Ethnographic Study on the Globalisation of Chinese Islam in Taiwan". Amtul has studied Sinology (Magister Artium) with a focus on the politics, society and economy of Modern China in Cologne and Xi’an as well as Social and Cultural Anthropology (Master of Arts) in Cologne and Lanzhou. Since November 2017, she is the Project Coordinator of the Excellence Forum CHINA global. Between 2017 and 2019, she conducted fieldwork (7 months in total) on the topic of "China's northwestern women's mosques between state, religion and modernity" .



Forum Assistant

Marhaba Wufuer, M.A

Marhaba Wufuer pursued a Master's degree in Sociology at the University of Sakarya in Turkey, including one year Erasmus Program at Hochschule Düsseldorf (Masters Thema:A Sociological Research on the Wedding Culture of Uyghur Turks in Diaspora) and holds a B.A. in Social Work from JiangXi Normal University, China. She is currently a PHD student in the University of Cologne, her regional focus lies on Kazakhstan, particularly Almaty. Since August 2020, she has been Project Assistant of the Forum CHINA global in the Department of  Social and Cultural Anthropology.


Partners at Cologne University

Prof. Dr. Björn Ahl

Björn Ahl is Professor and Chair of Chinese Legal Culture. Before joining the University of Cologne in 2012, he was Visiting Professor of Chinese Law, Comparative Public Law and International Law in the China EU School of Law at the Chinese University of Political Science and Law in Beijing. Prior to that he held a position as Assistant Professor of Law in the City University of Hong Kong. He has also worked as Associate Director and Lecturer in the Sino German Institute of Legal Studies of Nanjing University and as a Researcher at the Max Planck Institute of Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg.

He received a doctorate in law from the University of Heidelberg in 2008 and passed the second state examination in law in 2001. Prior to that he served as a legal clerk in the Heidelberg District Court, Legal Court and Public Prosecutor's Office, the Administrative Appellate Court of Bade-Württemberg and the Legal Department of the Regional Administrative Council in Karlsruhe. He completed the first examination with distinction in 1999. Björn Ahl studied Law and Chinese language at the University of Heidelberg and Nanjing with scholarships of the German National Scholarship Foundation and the Alfred Krupp von Bohlen and Halbach Stiftung.

Björn Ahl is President of the European China Law Studies Association; Fellow at the Center for Chinese Law of the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law; and Board Member of the Sino German Jurists Association. His recent publications can be found here.

Dr. Gil Hizi

Gil is a Humboldt postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cologne, following his graduation from the University of Sydney in 2018. An anthropologist of contemporary China, Gil has studied new practices of personal development and psychotherapeutic training in urban China, based on extensive fieldwork in Jinan. His publications discuss the intersection of changing conceptions of personhood, emotions, and self-cultivation. Gil is currently completing a book based on his dissertation, while also extending his research to new theoretical directions. He also anticipates conducting fieldwork for a new project once the travel gods permit...


Prof. Dr. Tongdong Bai

Tongdong Bai is the Dongfang chair professor of Philosophy at Fudan University in China, and a Global Professor of Law at NYU's Law School. His research interests include Chinese philosophy and political philosophy. His book, A New Mission of an Old State: The Comparative and Contemporary Relevance of Classical Confucian Political Philosophy (in Chinese) was published by Peking University in 2009, and his book, China: The Political Philosophy of the Middle Kingdom (in English), was published by Zed Books in 2012. He has recently finished a manuscript in English, tentatively titled "In Defense of Inequality - Confucian Alternatives to Liberal Democratic Order", which is now under review for publication. He is also the director of an English-based MA and visiting program in Chinese philosophy that is intended to promote the studies of Chinese philosophy in the world. These and other academic and social activities in which he is involved are all aimed to promote new political norms that draw their resources from traditional Chinese philosophy and are informed by comparative philosophy and political theories. 

Prof. Dr. May Tan-Mullins 

May Tan-Mullins became the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning on 1 January 2018. She is also a Professor in International Relations, the Director of Institute of Asia and Pacific Studies and the series editor of Palgrave Series in Asia and Pacific Studies. Besides, May is appointed as the Head of The International Exchange and Cooperation Center of Ningbo CEEC Cooperation Institute, as well as the Director of The Ningbo International Collaboration Research Institute. May joined the University of Nottingham Ningbo China in 2009 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to full professor in 2015. She was also previously the Head of School of International Studies and Dean of Graduate School. In addition, she is a recipient of the esteemed Lord Dearing Excellent Teaching Award (2014) and Vice Chancellor Medal (2017.)

Her research interests are political ecology of rising China, environmental and energy justice, poverty alleviation and building resilience for the poorest and most vulnerable. Based on her expertise in various international development and human security issues, she is a consultant for the UNDP, National Bureau of Asian Research (US), the Revenue Watch Institute (US) and the Chinese government. She was also awarded the prestigious global Rockefeller Bellagio writing residency in Bellagio Centre, Lake Como in Italy. Some of her most current research projects are together with colleagues from King's College London UK, TU-Delft, Freiburg University Germany and University of Toulouse I Capitole where they were awarded over a million Euros by European and Chinese funders to look at a comparative study between 'Smart Eco-cities in Europe and China' (2015-2018). Another project is with the University of Nottingham UK and University of Philippines on 'Poverty Alleviation in Post Typhoon Yalanda', awarded by ESRC-DFID (2015-2018). 

PhD Students at Cologne University

Panitda Saiyarod, MSc

Panitda Saiyarod is a PhD student in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Cologne University. The working title of her thesis is “The Clash of Connectedness: Local responses to China’s transnational infrastructure projects in a border town, Thailand”. Her doctoral research will address key questions concerning transnational infrastructure and the role of Thai NGOs in response to the transition of a border town in northern Thailand, of which the conflicts of the Mekong Blasting project is a significant case study. In the context of BRI initiative, this research will explore the role of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and their responses in the disputed projects. This research designed to examine new forms of resistance and reconciliation generated by China’ transnational infrastructure projects in northern Thailand. She has an MSc Development Anthropology with Merit from Durham University, UK and holds a B.A. in Sociology from Fudan University, China. 


Marhaba Wufuer, M.A.

Marhaba Wufuer is a PhD student in the Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology at Cologne University. The working title of her thesis is “Crisis and Development:The Belt-and Road-Initiative and Uyghur Traders in Almaty Kazakhstan”. Her doctoral research focuses on the impact of the BRI on the livelihood and cultural variation of small-scale traders in Almaty. This research will observe changes in the livelihoods of migrant traders and the impact of the BRI on local society and migrant labor relations in Almaty, Kazakhstan.