East Asian Futures: Past and Present

Panel organizer

Christine Moll-Murata (University Bochum)


Marion Eggert (University Bochum/AREA)
Christian Schwermann (University Bochum/AREA)
Christine Moll-Murata (University Bochum/AREA)
Nele Noesselt (University Duisburg-Essen/AREA)
Katja Schmidtpott (University Bochum/AREA)
Markus Taube (University Duisburg-Essen/AREA)
Maria Faust (University of Leipzig / TU Chemnitz)

Panel abstract

The multiple crises of the year 2020 have created a heightened awareness of uncertainty and risk. Societies, polities and economies have reached a turning point, and the range of changes is unpredictable. This panel offers insights into the conceptions of future in East Asia since the mid-nineteenth century up to the present, from the perspectives of religion and philosophy, economy, politics, urban planning, and technology.

Concepts of the future constitute important narratives of legitimation. Germany’s, Europe’s, and the world’s future has already been shaped by interaction with East Asia to a substantial degree. To understand present visions of the future on a global scale as well as their historical origins, a strong focus on East Asia is indispensable. In this panel, specialists from the humanities and social sciences will join in an exploration of historical and contemporary East Asian conceptions of the future.

Marion Eggert: Korean Projections of a Confucian Future”

This paper will discuss Korean expectations for the future of Confucianism from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, i.e. beginning in a period when some Confucian scholars were most curious about the advances of the West and also developed a distinct understanding and expectation of the times lying ahead. The presentation will look at imaginations, developed during this time, of a future of world civilization informed by Chinese culture in general or by Confucianism in particular, and at their reappearance in later eras.

Christian Schwermann:  From Economic Moderation to Sustainability? Managing Resources and Planning for the Future in Ancient Chinese Economic Thought. Past and Present Narratives

This contribution will show that ideas on sustainability and preservation of resources can be found in early Chinese writings from the fourth century BC to the second AD. This type of future conceptions in ancient Chinese economic theory links up to the present. Even today, Chinese economic policies are referring to ancient heritage as a narrative of legitimation.

Christine Moll-Murata: Concepts of Future in the Chinese Economy and Society, Late Qing to Republic of China, 1900-1950

In the course of the twentieth century, ideas of political participation, nationalism and egalitarianism evolved, and the number of persons who expressed such ideas increased. Adherents and doubters of both liberalism and socialism looked to the future and started to combine the idea of an open time horizon to their particular ideological outlook, applying the terms jianglai and weilai. Their utopian and dystopian views were typically formulated in wishes and aspirations for the New Year.

Nele Noesselt: Artificial Intelligence, Leadership Claims and Power Politics in China

This paper looks at standardization of the emerging field of artificial intelligence (AI), especially smart city governance and the mushrooming sharing economy. Based on Chinese policy papers, legal regulations, as well as expert interviews conducted between 2015 and 2019, she sketches the transformation of big data governance in China and outlines the future global implications of China’s AI 2035 dream.

Katja Schmidtpott: Japanese Futures for Euroamerican Cities (1950s/60s)

Urbanism is one of the paradigmatic fields of future thought in terms of urban planning and the development of new technologies in infrastructure and construction, as well as preservation and sustainability. Euroamerican cities had been regarded as models for Japan’s urban future ever since the Meiji period. The unidirectional flow of architectural thought was reversed around 1960, when Japanese architects became accepted as part of the global avant-garde. For the first time, visionary and futuristic designs developed by a Non-Western group of architects began to influence architecture and urban design in the US and in Europe. The paper explores some of the reasons behind this shift in direction in the global dissemination of architectural and urban design models.

Markus Taube: Economic Development in Challenging Domestic and International Environments

This paper sets out from oone of the decisive Chinese plans for economic advancement, the 2015 ten-year policy roadmap promoted by Prime Minister Li Keqiang, “Made in China 2025” (Zhongguo zhizao 2025 nian). This and other grand visions of the “two centennials” (2021 for the hundred-year anniversary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party, and 2049 for the foundation of the People’s Republic of China), the fourteenth five-year plan (2021-2025) and the fifteen-year strategy “Vision 2035” are significant examples of present-day Chinese future conceptions. The paper discusses how these conceptions of the future are currently being challenged by the Sino-US “Thucydides constellation”, newly arising fears of “over-dependence” arising from inter-regional specialisation and the danger of a separation of the global economy into two separate economic governance regimes and technology spheres.

Maria Faust: What happens to Future as Trust-Based Interacting Experience? Empirical Results of Digital Temporal Change from Germany and China

This comparative approach suggests a structural equation model for quantitative empirical analysis of contemporary Chinese future perspectives. She will demonstrate a multivariate quantitative analysis of mediatized processes of temporal change on a societal level, contrasting German and Chinese cultural contexts, with temporal understanding as the dependent variable in a nine-dimensional construct of Western and Chinese notions. In a second step, she will elaborate on the sub-dimension future as’ trust-based interacting experience and result of present positive behavior’ and discuss how it is subject to change. Conceptualized as an emic Chinese time dimension, this will provide an alternative to Hofstede’s Long-Term-Orientation as temporal cultural dimension.