Conferences & Workshops

Interdisciplinary Workshop on Chinese Legalism

This workshop, organized with Mateusz Stępień, was co-sponsored by Jagiellonian University’s Department of the Sociology of Law and CityU’s Center for East Asian and Comparative Philosophy and held in Krakow, Poland on 15-16 September 2016. Our goal was to bring together a diverse range of academics and academic approaches and turn their various lenses on a set of understudied early Chinese texts. To this end, we brought together a range of scholars from sociology, law, philosophy, linguistics, and Asian Studies to examine the so-called “Legalist” texts of Shen Dao, Shang Yang, and Han Feizi.

Workshop on Political Theory and Theorizing East and West

This workshop, which I organized with Sungmoon Kim, was held from 27 February-1 March 2015.

The past decade has seen a proliferation of research into various areas of East Asian political thought, with a variety of interpretations of Confucianism leading the way. In addition to Confucianism, however, there have been a variety of other sophisticated political theories developed in East Asia that have also begun to receive attention from political theorists and historians of political thought. This workshop brought together a group of seven scholars who wished to develop a deeper understanding of the full resources of the political ideas to be found in the rich intellectual world of East Asia and how they may profitably be brought into discussion with Western political theory. To this end, our group of scholars included four working primarily within the Western tradition and three working primarily within the East Asian tradition, and both groups were be split between those working primarily in contemporary political theory and those working in the history of their respective traditions.

Our three-day workshop format allowed us to spend 2-3 hours discussing the work of each of the attending scholars, investigating ways that it can be related to the work being done by others, particularly those working within a different tradition, creating a stimulating opportunity for a much richer dialogue, more probing and revealing examinations, and much deeper and enduring insight.

Traditional Non-Confucian Perspectives on Social and Political Organizations and Order

There has over the past few decades been a resurgence of interest in early Confucian political thought, both from an historical perspective and from the perspective of those attempting to bring it into conversation with contemporary Western political theories. However, there is a vast array of traditional Chinese writings on political thought that has received much less attention than has the writings of thinkers like Kongzi and Mengzi. This literature includes a range of thinkers who traditionally have been divided into schools such as Legalism, Daoism, and Mohism, as well as the more syncretic writings found in texts such as the Guanzi, Lushi Chunqiu, and Huainanzi, among others.

This conference brought together a range of eminent scholars who have interests in the political thought of pre-Qin through Han Dynasty China and provided them with the opportunity to dig more deeply into these texts, to come to a better understanding of their meaning and intent, and to trace various currents of political thought through this time period. Not only did this conference provide us with the opportunity to more fully understand and evaluate the political thought of a range of important Chinese political theorists, it also also supplied a platform upon which to base subsequent research into how these thinkers may profitably be brought into conversation with contemporary political theory and philosophy.