SDAC Professors


Prof. Dr. Stéphanie Homola

  • Job title: Elite Master Program "Standards of Decision-Making Across Cultures"
  • Organization: Institute for Near Eastern and East Asian Languages and Civilizations
  • Working group: Juniorprofessur für Ethnologie mit Schwerpunkt asiatischer Raum
  • Phone number: +49 9131 85 64364
  • Email:




2016-2017 Visiting Scholar, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (Department III, Artefacts, Action, and Knowledge) & Erlangen-Nuremberg University (IKGF): joint-project “Accounting for Uncertainty: Prediction and Planning in Asia’s History”
Post-doctoral Fellow, Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange
2014-2016 Research Fellow, Collège de France, Prof. Anne Cheng’s Chair of Chinese Intellectual History
2014 Post-doctoral Fellow, Erlangen-Nuremberg University, International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF), “Fate, Freedom and Prognostication. Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe”
Since 2013


Associate Research Fellow, Centre d’études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine (CECMC), Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS)





2013 PhD in Social Anthropology, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

Connaissances du destin: anthropologie des pratiques de divination contemporaines en Chine et à Taïwan (Knowing fate: an anthropology of contemporary divinatory practices in China and Taiwan)

2008 MA in Social Science, major in Anthropology of China, EHESS
2006 BA in Chinese studies, National Institute of Oriental Language and Civilization (INALCO), Paris
2003 MSc, ESSEC Business School, Paris –– major in Law


Research Interests

Anthropology of knowledge, anthropology of religion, anthropology of memory, divination, destiny, Chinese religions, popular science

Fieldwork: Taipei (Taiwan), Beijing, Kaifeng

  • 2018. “La fabrique des restes: réflexions sur les procédures aléatoires produisant des restes dans les arts divinatoires chinois” (The Making of Remainders: Reflections on Random Procedures which Produce Remainders in Chinese Mantic Arts). Anthropologie et Sociétés,42.2/3, Special Issue “Deviner, prévoir et faire advenir” coordinated by Frédéric Laugrand and Lionel Simon, 37-68.
  • 2018 “Caught in the Language of Fate: The Quality of Destiny in Taiwan”. HAU Journal of Ethnographic Theory, Special Section “Anthropologies of Destiny: Action, Temporality, Freedom” coordinated by Alice Elliot and Laura Menin, 2018, 8 (1/2), 329-342.
  • 2015 “Ce que la main sait du destin: opérations et manipulations dans les pratiques divinatoires chinoises” (What the hand knows about destiny: processes and handlings within Chinese divination)., 31, Special issue “La part de la main” coordinated by Nicolas Adell and Sophie Chevalier (online),
  • 2014 “The Fortunes of a Scholar: When the Yijing Challenged Modern Astronomy”. Journal of Asian Studies, 73.3, 733-752.
  • 2014 “Le cas du “dragon chinois”: légende, destin et chance autour d’un jeu divinatoire” (The Case of “Chinese dragon”: Legend, Destiny and Luck in a Divination Game). Etudes chinoises, 33.2, 153-175.
  • 2014 “Les usages de la main dans les calculs divinatoires” (The Uses of the Hand in Divinatory Calculations). Etudes chinoises, 33.1, 113-132.
  • 2013 “Pursue Good Fortune and Avoid Calamity: The Practice and Status of Divination in Contemporary Taiwan”. Journal of Chinese Religions, 41.2, 124-147.
  • 2013 “La relation de maître à disciple en question: transmission orale et écrite des savoirs divinatoires en Chine et à Taïwan” (Interrogating the Master-Disciple Relation: Oral and Written Transmission of Divinatory Knowledge in China and Taiwan). Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident, 35, Special issue “Les Astres et le Destin. Astrologie et divination en Asie orientale” coordinated by Pierre Marsone and Jean-Noël Robert, 11-43. Available on

 Book Chapters

  • 2017 “From jianghu to liumang: working conditions and cultural identity of wandering fortune-tellers in contemporary China”. In Michael Lackner (ed.), Coping with the Future. Theories and Practices of Divination in East Asia. Leiden: Brill (Sinica Leidensa 138), 366-391..
  • 2017 “Selections on Illness Divination from Bodhidharma’s Treasure of the Palm”. In C. Pierce Salguero (ed.), Buddhism and Medecine. An Anthology of Premodern Sources. New York: Columbia University Press, 486-493.
  • 2015 “Judging destiny: doubt and certainty in Chinese divinatory rituals”. In Daniela Berti, Anthony Good and Gilles Tarabout (ed.), Of Doubt and Proof. Ritual and Legal Practices of Judgment. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2015, 39-57-
  • “Les pratiques divinatoires des Chinois en France: migration, globalisation et territoire”. In Vincent Goossaert and Fang Ling (ed.), La religion des Chinois en France. Paris: Éditions du CNRS (forthcoming).
  • “Echanges de savoir entre étudiants chinois et sinologues français à l’Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises (1927-1968)”. In Pierre-Étienne Will (ed.), Jean-Pierre Abel-Rémusat et ses successeurs. Deux cents ans de sinologie française en France et en Chine. Paris: Institut des Hautes Etudes Chinoises (forthcoming).


    Book reviews

  • 2018 “Stalk Divination: A Newly Discovered Alternative to the I Ching. Edited and translated by Constance A. Cook and Zhao Lu. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2017”. T’oung Pao, 104.3/4, 423-427.
  • 2014 “Richard J. Smith, The I Ching: A Biography. Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Lives of Great Religious Books)”. Etudes chinoises, 2014, 33.2, 194-197.
  • 2006 “Cheng Ying, in collaboration with Claude Aubert, The Peasants of Mancang: the Chronicle of a Taiwanese village”. China Perspectives, May-June 2006, 65, [online]:

Prof. Dr. Dr. Philipp Balsiger

  • Job title: Elite Master Program "Standards of Decision-Making Across Cultures"
  • Organization: Institute for Near Eastern and East Asian Languages and Civilizations
  • Working group: Chair of Chinese Studies (Prof. Dr. Lackner)
  • Phone number: +49 9131 85 64365
  • Email:

Philipp Balsiger studied German Studies, Philosophy, and Linguistics (1975–1982) at the University of Berne (Switzerland). From 1987 to 1989 he was a doctoral fellow of the Swiss National Research Foundation. In 1990 he received his doctorate from the University of Berne with a dissertation on “Richard Herbertz — Leben und Werk”. 1992/93 he worked as a Senior Researcher (Oberassistent) at the Interfakultäre Koordinationsstelle für Allgemeine Ökologie (IKAÖ) at the University of Berne. As a research fellow of the Swiss National Research Foundation in 1995, he changed to the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. In 2003 he presented his habilitation thesis on “Transdisziplinarität” (Fink Verlag 2005) at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. Since 2008 he is an Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.

Selected Publications


2005 Transdisziplinarität. Systematisch-vergleichende Untersuchung
disziplinenübergreifender Wissenschaftspraxis. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag.

Books edited

2007 (Co-edited with Rudolf Kötter) Die Kultur moderner Wissenschaft am Beispiel
Albert Einstein. Heidelberg: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag.

2001 (Co-edited with Christian Brunold et al.) Wald und CO2. Ergebnisse eines
ökologischen Modellversuches. Bern et al.: Haupt Verlag.

1996(Co-edited with R. Defila, A. Di Giulio): Oekologie und Interdisziplinarität —
eine Beziehung mit Zukunft? Wissenschaftsforschung zur Verbesserung der
fachübergreifenden Zusammenarbeit. Basel: Birkhäuser.


2017 “From jianghu to liumang: working conditions and cultural identity of wandering fortune-tellers in contemporary China”. In Michael Lackner (ed.), Coping with the Future. Theories and Practices of Divination in East Asia. Leiden: Brill (Sinica Leidensa 138), 366-391.

2011 Formen selbstverschuldeter Unmündigkeit. Michael Romms Suche nach der
Gewöhnlichkeit des Faschismus, in: Glücksuchende? Conditio Judaica im
sowjetischen Film, ed. by Lilia Antipow, Jörn Petrick, and Matthias Dornhuber,
Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, pp. 251-270.

2010 Das Museum in der Universität – Überlegungen zu einer Form künftiger
Wissenschaftskommunikation, in: Universitätsmuseen und -sammlungen im
Hochschulalltag, ed. by Cornelia Weber and Klaus Mauersberger, Berlin, http:, pp. 105–117.

2007 Schubladendenken. Zum Verhältnis von Sammeln und Ordnen, in: Die
Sammlungen der Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg. Begleitband zur Ausstellung
„Ausgepackt“, ed. by Udo Andraschke and Marion Maria Ruisinger, Erlangen:
Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, pp. 32–44.

2004 Concept of Supradisciplinary Research Practices: History, Objectives and
Rationale, in: FUTURES Vol. 36, No. 2 (Special Issue), pp. 407-421

Prof. Dr. Robert LaFleur

  • Job title: Professor of History and Anthropology
  • Organization: Elite Master Program "Standards of Decision-Making Across Cultures"
  • Working group: Institute for Near Eastern and East Asian Languages and Civilizations Chair of Chinese Studies (Prof. Dr. Lackner)
  • Email:

Professor Robert Andre LaFleur is an anthropologist and historian who focuses on the intersection of text and culture in Chinese life. His work includes studies of the Chinese almanac and its place in popular religion, the “exilic imagination” in Northern Song dynasty (960 – 1127) China, and the role of literary borrowing in Chinese historiography. He is the author of China: Global Studies (ABC-Clio, 2003), and a substantially revised and expanded second edition (2010).

For the past five years, LaFleur has been conducting research on China′s five cardinal peaks (Mt. Tai in the east, Mt. Heng in the south, Mt. Song in the center, Mt. Hua in the west, and a second Mt. Heng in the north). Laid out in powerful “cosmic-architectural” fashion, the great Chinese mountains framed the political and historical discourse in early China. Since early times, the Chinese imagined heaven to be round and the earth to be square, and their linkage has played a prominent role in 3000 years of political and historical writing. To this day, the mountains remain important as cultural sites and pilgrimage centers. LaFleur′s research has combined fieldwork on and around all five mountains, with concomitant research on each mountain′s textual tradition – the most prominent fragments of which have been carved (by travelers and poets over the millennia) into the mountainsides themselves.

LaFleur received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago′s Committee on Social Thought. He is a professor of history and anthropology at Beloit College, where he has chaired the Asian Studies program and history department. He teaches a wide variety of courses on East Asian history and culture.

Books and Editions

  • LaFieur, Robert Andre. China: Global Studies. Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio, 2010.
  • LaFieur, Robert Andre. China: A Global Studies Handbook. Santa Barbara: ABC-Ciio, 2003.


  • “Religiosity Spent: Divinatory Economics on China′s Southern Sacred Mountain” Erlangen Universität
  • “The Chinese Mirror for Management: The Culture of Imperial Organization in Early China” Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities
  • “Heaven is Round, Earth is Square: Accounts Linking Mountain and Sea in Early China.” University of Wisconsin, Institute for Research in the Humanities
  • “lmagined Mountains: Ascents and Reflections Upon China′s Sacred Mountains in Fin de siècle French Ethnography” Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities
  • “Depraved Destinies: The Historiography of Failure in Early Modern China” Group for Early Modern Cultural Studies
  • “From Here to Ethnography: Marcel Granet and the Analysis of Early Chinese Religion” Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities
  • “Writing Towards Death: History and Urgency in the Waning Years of the Two Simas” Athens Institute for Education and Research lnt′l Conjerence
  • “Imagined Communitas: Dramatic Reconstructions of Early Chinese Society University of Wisconsin, Institute for Research in the Humanities
  • “Chronicling lndividuals in Chinese History: Narrative, Commentary, and Biography in Medieval China” Lingnan University Lecture
  • “Crossing (Early-) Modernity: The Ethnography of Cultural Reception in Claude Levi-Strauss′s Tristes tropiques. Early Modern Cultural Studies

Recent Articles

  • “Introduction (with András Boros-Kazai)” in James Minahan, Ethnic Groups of North, Central, and East Asia (Santa Barbara: ABC-Clio Press, 2014)
  • “Remonstrance in Chinese Histories” (with Anita Andrew). Education About Asia. Forthcoming.
  • “Calendarios y Almanaques” in Gabriel Garcfa-Noblejas, China. Pasado y presente de una gran civilización. Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 2012.
  • “Fifty-one entries” in Michael Dillon, ed., Encyclopedia of Chinese History, Routledge 2014.
  • “Calendars” and “Festivals” (two separate entries) in The Encyc/opedia of Modern China New York: Macmillan 2010.