Thorben Pelzer

Thorben Pelzer


Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics (ReCentGlobe)
Nikolaistraße 10, Room 5.16
04109 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 97-37764


Dr. des. Thorben Pelzer researches Chinese history at the interdisciplinary Research Centre Global Dynamics. Previously, he was a lecturer and researcher at the section for Society and Culture of Modern China. He graduated in Chinese Studies, Japanese Studies, and East Asia Studies at Ruhr-University Bochum. Further, he studied at Osaka University, at Tongji University in Shanghai, and at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei. He is an alumnus of the German Academic Scholarship Foundation. As a social and cultural historian of the Chinese Republican period, he researches engineers, technology, and infrastructure. He is interested in digital research methods.

Professional career

  • since 01/2020
    Researcher, Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 1199 "Processes of Spatialization", Leipzig
  • 04/2019 - 08/2021
    EACS 2020/2021 Conference Coordinator
  • 09/2017 - 08/2021
    University lecturer, Society and Culture of Modern China, Leipzig
  • 08/2018 - 09/2018
    Research stay at MIT, including research at Harvard, Yale, Columbia archives
  • 07/2018 - 08/2018
    Invited guest researcher, Renmin University, Beijing
  • 05/2017 - 08/2017
    Freelance, German as a Second Language, Bochum
  • 02/2015 - 03/2017
    Research assistant, Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities, Essen
  • 03/2016 - 06/2016
    Full time internship, German Consulate General, Shanghai
  • 10/2012 - 09/2013
    Student assistant, Section for Chinese History & Philosophy, Bochum


  • 04/2018 - 05/2021
    PhD Candidate, Graduate School Global and Area Studies, Leipzig
  • 04/2015 - 03/2017
    M.A. East Asia Studies, Bochum
  • 10/2011 - 04/2015
    B.A. Sinology & Japanology, Bochum
  • 09/2016 - 02/2017
    Exchange semester, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei
  • 02/2014 - 07/2014
    Exchange semester, Tongji University, Shanghai
  • 09/2013 - 02/2014
    Exchange semester, Osaka University, Japan
  • 08/2012 - 10/2012
    Summer school, Tongji University, Shanghai
  • Early Twentieth Century (Late Qing, Beijing, and Nanjing Republics)
  • Engineering and Technocratic Cultures
  • Overseas Chinese Education, Exchanges, and Transculturalities
  • Current research on US-educated Chinese engineers
  • Chinese Engineers and their Spatial Imaginations: Architects of an Interconnected Nation, 1906–1937
    Kaske, Elisabeth
    Duration: 01/2020 - 12/2023
    Funded by: DFG Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Leipzig Research Centre Global Dynamics (ReCentGlobe); Ostasiatisches Institut; SFB 1199: Verräumlichungsprozesse unter Globalisierungsbedingungen
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Thorben Pelzer teaches historical and contemporary Chinese societies and cultures. He focuses on breaking down stereotypes and cultural essentialisms by recognizing the diversity of Chinese traditions. One link is the acquisition and practice of scientific thought and form. In his seminars he focuses on new teaching methods such as CRS (Kahoot), workshops (world café) and Flipped Classrooms (transfer tasks). Together with Merle Schatz, he received the LaborUni grant from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2018.

  • Japanese for Sinologists

    Winter term 2020/21

  • Sinophone Identities and Localist Activism in Hong Kong 2019

    Summer term 2020

  • Models and Methods of Area Studies and Chinese Studies

    Various winter terms

    Receiver of the teaching project grant StiL LaborUni #8

  • Chinese Societies [after 1949]

    Summer term 2018