Matthias Schumann

External Collaborator / Former Research Fellow at the Professorship for Chinese History and Culture

Historical Background Study

External Collaborator / Co-Editor of Edited Volume
Former Scientific Project Coordinator


International Consortium for Research in the Humanities "Fate, Freedom and Prognostication"
University Erlangen-Nuremberg






last updated July 2017


Project related research

Research about discourses and practices of philanthropy, welfare, charity and other issues involving the protection of weak interests in East Asia from 1850 to 1950.

Other research interests

I am currently finishing my doctoral thesis which deals with spirit-writing organizations in Republican China and their attempt at addressing the epistemological changes of that period. A particular focus of my work lies on the introduction and indigenization of novel concepts like religion, superstition, science, and philanthropy. Apart from my thesis I am interested in the history of spiritualism, psychical research, and religion in modern China more generally.


Employment history

Oct 2014 - Jul 2017

Research Fellow at the Professorship for Chinese History and Culture (Institute for Sinology), Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main

Winter Term 2013/2014

Lecturer at the Institute of Sinology, Heidelberg University

Mar 2011 -
Jul 2012
Teaching Assistant at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University
2009 -
Tutor at the Institute of Sinology, Heidelberg University
Oct – Dec 2009 Research Assistant for the Project “Quotation Finder” at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, Heidelberg University

 Academic background

Oct 2011 - Doctoral Student in the Graduate Programme for Transcultural Studies at the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” at Heidelberg University
2009 -
M.A. in Chinese Studies and History at Heidelberg University
Summer 2010 One Semester-Stay at the Beijing Foreign Studies University for the Study of Chinese
2007 - 2009 B.A. in East Asian Studies (Sinology) and History of South Asia at Heidelberg University


Oct 2011 – Sept 2014

Scholarship of the German Research Foundation for the Completion of a Doctoral Thesis at the Cluster Asia and Europe in A Global Context

March – July 2010

Scholarship of the Heidelberg Institute of Chinese Studies for Chinese Language Studies at the Beijing Foreign Studies University


Winter Term 2013/14

Reading Class: „Zwischen Staatsreligion, Heterodoxie und Aberglauben: Religion im China der späten Kaiserzeit und der Republikzeit“, Institute of Sinology, Heidelberg University



Talks at academic Conferences, Seminars, Workshops

Nov 29, 2016

International Consortium for Research in the Humanities “Fate, Freedom and Prognostication” at the University Erlangen-Nuremberg: “Serving a Higher Purpose: Divination and the Reform of Spirit-Writing in Republican China”

Oct 7 - 8, 2016

International conference on “Protecting the Weak – Concepts and East Asian Evidence”, Lingnan University, Hong Kong: “’For the Sake of Morality and Civilization’: Buddhist Activism and the Emerging Animal Protection Movement in Republican China”

Aug 25, 2016

Bi-annual conference of the European Association for Chinese Studies, St. Petersburg: “From ‘the Survival of the Fittest’ to ‘the Protection of Life’: Religious Activism and Animal Protection in Republican China”

Nov 16, 2015

Confucius Institute Leipzig: “Ein chinesisches Rotes Kreuz? Die Rote-Swastika-Gesellschaft im China der Republikzeit”

Sep 12 – 13, 2015

International conference on “Folk Documents and Chinese Society” (民间文献与华人社会), Renmin-University, Beijing: “Redemptive Societies (jiushi tuanti 救世團體) as Popularizers of Knowledge: The Wushanshe 悟善社, the Daoyuan 道院 and the Appropriation of Religion in Republican China”

Nov 8, 2014 International Conference on “Text and Context: Redemptive Societies and New Religious Movements in Modern and Contemporary China and Southeast Asia”, Hong Kong University: “Coming to Terms with Spiritualism in Republican China: The Spiritualist Society from Shanghai (Lingxuehui靈學會)”
Jan 12, 2014

The 6th Next-Generation Global Workshop:
Revisiting the Intimate and Public Spheres and the East-West Encounter at Inamori Center Bldg., Kyoto University, Japan;
“Psychical Research and Hypnotism in Republican China: Science, Self-Cultivation and the New Spirituality”

Nov 16, 2013

Workshop “Text and Context: Redemptive Societies in the History of Religions of Modern and Contemporary China”, Leipzig University;
“Between Science and Superstition: Spirit-Writing Organizations in Early Republican China and their Quest for Legitimacy”