Translating China

Translating China

Research Project

Practicing legal history in a global perspective also means learning from and about each other.

Through contact with Chinese culture, it becomes rapidly clear that there is a profound knowledge of Western legal thinking and legal traditions in China. In contrast, our own knowledge about China is rather limited. One of the reasons for this is the existence of a long and abundant tradition of translating contemporary German authors and their works into Chinese. By comparison, intellectual debates about Chinese legal traditions and China's self-conception are hardly taken up in Germany. The invocation of China's own legal traditions however is of great importance also for contemporary Chinese politics – at the latest since the dawn of the New Era of the Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

In cooperation with the Max Weber Foundation and Werner Reimers Foundation, the translation project ‘China – Norms, Ideas, Practices’ has already commenced. Given the context outlined above, the project aims to translate a selection of texts authored by contemporary Chinese scholars into German and publish them with introductory remarks. The focus will be on texts written by Chinese intellectuals who represent important voices in current academic debates. These texts will address major questions of law and politics in China primarily from a historical perspective. In general, the translation project aims to provide new ways of looking at the broad spectrum between official statements and critical voices, especially echoing from the West. Only in this way can an appropriate understanding of traditions of self-interpretation be developed, which are vital to any political community. In light of rapid economic growth and transformation in China, the importance of this self-interpretation is clear. Regarding the individual translation projects, introductory remarks may be provided to assist German readers situate the texts into their appropriate contexts.

For the first translation cycle, three monographs as listed below have been selected and are currently being translated:

Ge Zhaoguang (葛兆光)
The Inside and Outside of Historical China: A Reclarification of the Concept of ‚China‘ and Its ‚Borders‘

The German translation of Ge Zhaoguang's monograph was published in 2023. Learn more by clicking on Source to the right.
Wang Hui (汪晖)
The Tibet Issue between East and West

The German translation of Wang Hui's monograph was published on 17 January 2024. It is also available in Open Access. For more information, click on Source to the right.
Liang Zhiping (梁治平)
On the Rule of Law and the Rule of Virtue: An Inner Observation of China’s Legal Modernization Movement

The German translation of Liang Zhiping's monograph will be published in 2024.


Teaser-Bild: CC-BY-SA by 三猎

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