Using the past to serve the present is the title of a well known 1993 book which examines the political purposes of history and historiography in the People's Republic of China. The future has similarly been deployed for presentist purposes, but a follow-up publication, Using the Future to Serve the Present, has not yet been written. In this lecture, Peter Kuhfus will explore these questions through the lens of "Sinofuturology" and the ways in which the future is forecast, imagined and hoped for.
After "one hundred years of humiliation" from 1840-1949 at the hands of Western powers and Japan and the turbulence of the Mao era, China began on a path of reform and opening in 1978. Since the 1990s, the PRC has become increasingly powerful - its rise, "the world's biggest story" - and the idea of a great national rejuvenation has underpinned a "Chinese Dream, but what future awaits China is still unknown.
Drawing on works from Wilhelm Fucks‘ "Mächte von Morgen" (1978) to David Shambaugh's "China’s future“ (2016), as well as Xi Jinping and China's centennial goals (2012, 2049 and 2078), Peter Kuhfus will examine the concept of the Chinese Dream and the images, ideas and scenarios conjured by Sinofuturology and the outlook for both China and the world.
Peter M. Kuhfus taught at the University of Tübingen in the Department of Sinology from 1975-2016. His research and teaching interests span modern and contemporary Chinese history, China in the world, the history of ideology, historiography, Sino-Soviet and Sino-Russian relations, the Korean War, Max Weber and China, and China's future from indigenous and foreign perspectives.