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The research group „Infrastructures of China’s Modernity and Their Global Constitutive Effects”, funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia within the framework of the NRW Return Program, investigates the worldwide structural effects of China’s rapid modernization. China, which is often viewed as a country racing to catch up technologically and economically, is fact on par with industrialized societies and perhaps even surpassed them. As a result, a specific version of modernity has emerged, which seems to unfold both formative power and normative attraction. Based on this hypothesis, the research group examines the transnational effects of this socio-technical transformation and its links to entangled processes beyond Chinese borders. Methodically, four different types of infrastructure – logistics, data, manipulation, and memory, with their unique Chinese “characteristics” - will be explored and compared. Case studies are driven by the question whether and to what extent China’s modernity develops constitutive effects, i.e. which fundamental ontological and discursive aspects of political, economic, and social orders elsewhere are influenced and coshaped. This includes transformative processes that are reciprocal but significantly driven forward by China with respect to central dimensions of modernity including space, connectivity, subjectivity, and temporality. The project intends to expand research on China by adding a socio-technological perspective that goes beyond questions of economic influence and the expansion of political power. It focuses on China’s role in reshaping fundamental dimensions of political order. Secondly, it aims at improving our theoretical understanding of the role of new infrastructures in the Global South and their repercussions on the Global North. The research group will develop novel methodological approaches to make a contribution to the research on global infrastructures as a whole.

Lead: Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer

Infrastructures of Logistics

Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer (Lead)

Infrastructures of Data

Dr. Ying Huang (Lead), Nicolas Huppenbauer, MSc

Infrastructures of Manipulation

Project begin in 2021.

Infrastructures of Memory

Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer


Dr. Ying Huang

Research fellow (Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer)

Nicolas Huppenbauer, MSc

Research fellow (Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer)

Yen-Chi Lu, MA

Research fellow (Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer)

Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer

Professor for International Relations and Global Politics of Technology, University of Bonn

Frederik Schmitz, M.A.

Research fellow (Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer)

Louisa Schmökel

Research assistant (Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer)

Mingyong (Jacob) Tong, MA

Research assistant (Prof. Dr. Maximilian Mayer)

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