Duke Scholars Lecture Series | Worldviews and the Planetary Politics: Oceans, Gardens, and Jungles

Duke Scholars Lecture Series | Worldviews and the Planetary Politics: Oceans, Gardens, and Jungles  is presented by DKU’s Center for the Studies of Contemporary China.

This event features HRC Advisory Board members: Prof Prasenjit Duara and Prof Selina Lai-Henderson.

Time and Date: Friday October 21, 10:30 AM BJT
Speaker: Prasenjit Duara, Oscar L. Tang Family Distinguished Professor of East Asian Studies, Duke University
Moderator: Selina Lai-Henderson, Assistant Professor of Humanities, Duke Kunshan University
Zoom ID: 942 0378 1977Passcode: CSCC

Contemporary world politics is structured around the world order of nation-states in turn founded largely upon a Newtonian cosmology and an associated worldview. I develop a conceptual framework around the ‘epistemic engine’ which organizes and circulates the cosmological and institutional structures of Enlightenment modernity. Subsequently, I explore how the imperial Chinese world order– functional until at least the late 19th century–reveals a different cosmology shaping a different world order and politics.  I also explore the contemporary PRC view of the world order probing the extent to which its historical experiences can be seen to re-shape the hegemonic epistemic engine. In the final section, I draw from a paradigm of ‘oceanic temporality’ to grasp counter-finalities generated by the epistemic engine on the earth and the ocean itself. Can the counter-flows of social movements allow us to imagine a post-Enlightenment, planetary cosmology?


Dr. Prasenjit Duara

Prasenjit Duara is the Oscar Tang Distinguished Family Chair Professor of East Asian Studies at Duke University. He was born and educated in India and received his PhD in Chinese history from Harvard University.  He was previously Professor and Chair of the Dept of History and Chair of the Committee on Chinese Studies at the University of Chicago (1991-2008). Subsequently, he became Raffles Professor of Humanities and Director, Asia Research Institute at National University of Singapore (2008-2015). He was President of the Association for Asian Studies, USA from 2019-2020.

In 1988, he published Culture, Power and the State: Rural North China, 1900-1942 (Stanford Univ Press) which won the Fairbank Prize of the AHA and the Levenson Prize of the AAS, USA. Among his other books are Rescuing History from the Nation (U Chicago 1995), Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern (Rowman 2003) and most recently, The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and a Sustainable Future (Cambridge 2014). He has presented over 150 keynote and distinguished lectures globally since 1996 and his work has been widely translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and the European languages. He was awarded the doctor philosophiae honoris causa from the University of Oslo in 2017.