19 January 2023: China’s Development Projects in the Global South:Economic and political consequences 
Prof. Dr. Andreas Fuchs, University of Göttingen & Kiel Institute of Economics

Poster Prof. Dr. Andreas Fuchs– China’s development projects around the world are rapidly gaining importance. Many observers see this development as a threat to international development finance, which has so far been dominated by the US, Europe and Japan. Others praise Beijing for the great development opportunities that have emerged. This talk will provide an overview of recent research on China’s international development projects, as summarised in the book Banking on Beijing, published by Cambridge University Press in May 2022. We will explore the following questions: What determines the scale of Chinese development assistance and other government infrastructure projects? In which countries, provinces and sectors is China particularly active and why? What impact do Beijing’s development activities have on growth, good governance, conflict and other development indicators in recipient countries? What geopolitical challenges does this pose for Europe?

15 November 2022: China’s Environmental Authoritarianism as a Global Model? Opportunities and Challenges
Dr.in Maria Bondes, Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg 
Poster Dr. Maria Bondes
– In view of the global environmental crisis and the failure of leading democratic states to effectively address the climate problem, there is much debate about whether authoritarian governance models – so-called “environmental authoritarianism” – might be more suitable to tackle the ecological crisis of our time in time. As part of its new assertive foreign policy, China’s government under Xi Jinping is promoting China’s top-down environmental governance system and its vision of an “ecological civilisation” as a global model for a more sustainable future for our planet. The country presents itself on the international stage as a pioneer of global environmental and climate governance. At the same time, China is struggling domestically with a massive environmental crisis that threatens the legitimacy of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is seen by some observers as the “Achilles’ heel of modern China”. Here, the Chinese leadership points to great successes in the fight against air pollution, progress in national climate and energy policy and China’s world-leading role in renewable energy. The lecture takes a critical look at China’s international ambitions and national successes in the environmental field and highlights the strengths and weaknesses of China’s top-down environmental governance system. On this basis, it will discuss to what extent China’s “environmental authoritarianism” could be a global model to address the ecological crisis of our time.

16 November 2022: Constructing ‘self’ and ‘other’ in the micropolitics of housework: Sri Lankan migrant domestic workers in Saudi Arabia
(Lecture in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Human Geography)
Poster Dr. Wasana HandapangodaDr. Wasana Handapangoda, Johannes Kepler University (JKU) Linz

– In a workplace simultaneously characterised by a high degree of ‘personalism and asymmetry’ (in Evelyn Nakano Glenn’s terms, 1984), live-in migrant domestic work provides an ideal instance of private home as a site of political struggle embedded in the dynamics of contemporary global capitalism. Combining structural analysis of domestic labour, neoliberal globalisation and boundary-work as theoretical frameworks, this lecture gives insights into the making of ‘self’ and ‘other’ in the micropolitics of employing Sri Lankan migrant domestic workers in Saudi households. The lecture is based on some of the findings of my fieldwork in Saudi Arabia carried out in 2020. Both the employers and workers used everyday rituals, rules and behaviour regulations of paid domestic labour to distinguish between ‘self’ and ‘other’ categories and construct spatial territories in the not so private world of the Saudi private household. This included the everyday politics of space, mobility and communication, food, clothing/dress, gifting and religious beliefs, over which the boundaries ‒ physical, social bodily, symbolic ‒ were constructed, contested and negotiated. The boundaries were policed and protected, nevertheless they were movable and crossable. In doing micropolitics of housework, both the employers and workers simultaneously intensified and downplayed the structural divides that separated and connected them in the complex organisation of domestic work.


(Lecture in collaboration with the Department of Sociology and Human Geography)
Dr. Aimi MURANAKA (Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen) and Dr. Joohyun Justine PARK (Goethe University of Frankfurt)


– How to attract and retain foreign skilled professionals is a crucial question for governments and businesses around the world. However, the literature on the international migration still largely focuses on “Western” traditional immigration countries, – the U.S., Canada, the UK and Australia-, while studies on skilled migration in Asia are limited. This on-going comparative study centres on “emerging migration countries” in East Asian economies, namely South Korea and Japan. Based on a comparison of skilled visa policies and interview data, this study explores the challenges faced by foreign skilled professionals in their pursuit of  labour market integration in these countries. Both countries are facing accelerated labour shortages due to their low fertility rate and aging populations, leading both governments to actively seek foreign talents. Nevertheless, despite strong efforts from the governments, the findings of this comparative study suggest that skilled migrants experience legal and structural barriers to enter the labour market and to purse upward career mobility. Even if they secure a job post, they are under precarious employment conditions and/or they cannot necessarily make use of their “skills”. The findings from the two research projects hint similar but slightly different labour market integration outcomes of foreign professionals in two countries. Despite the efforts made by both governments, the comparative study suggests that there is still a significant gap  in successfully retaining these skilled migrants.


5 May 2023: „The Chinese Archaeology-‘Oscar’: The ‘Ten Great Annual Discoveries’ between Science and Politics“
Prof. Dr. Maria KHAYUTINA (Institute of Sinology, University of Munich)

FOR APAC Agorá Poster_Prof. Maria KHAYUTINA_2023_05_05– For a hundred years, modern archaeology has served as an important binding agent for the Chinese national historical narrative. Research results have traditionally been communicated to the population in edited form through textbooks, museums and, where appropriate, newspapers. Since the beginning of the 21st century, the state has been trying to keep public interest in archaeology alive with the help of new ways of presenting the material. The annual awards ceremony for the ten most important archaeological excavations of the previous year causes quite a stir. Although these are often spectacular finds, only a few of them – such as the sacrificial pits with bronze figures and gold masks in Sanxingdui in 2021 – are noticed in the West. This lecture provides information on the political background, scientific significance, public resonance as well as economic impact of the Chinese archaeology “Oscar” and introduces three outstanding award winners from the last five years.




22 Jun2 2023: „THAILAND AS A SECOND HOME FOR RETIREES“ Documentary Screening and Discussion“
Prof.  Dr. Sirijit SUNANTA (Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia Mahidol University, Thailand)

Prof. Dr. Sirijit Sunanta_ Poster_final3This documentary is an episode in the documentary series „Some One“ that explores contemporary diversity in Thai society. Thailand has been a destination for international retirement migration. The Thai government promotes long-stay tourism and the transnational retirement industry as a strategy for economic development. Foreign retirees constitute a new group of population in Thailand, a middle-income country that is facing rapid population ageing.  Link to the documentary    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1SrRLwrQq0c&t=47s

Sirijit Sunanta is associate professor in the PhD Program in Multicultural Studies, Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, Thailand. Her research interests include gender and migration, globalization and food cultures, and the politics of diversity in Thailand. The geographical focus of her research is transnational mobilities between Europe and Thailand. She has published widely in leading journals in the areas of Asian Studies, Migration Studies, Gender Studies and Tourism Studies. Sirijit’s current research projects focus on care transnationalization, old age care and migration, and gendered labour in the Thai tourism industry.


23 June 2023: „Collaborative German-Austr(al)ian Materials Science on Extracellular Matrices of Plants“
Dr. Michaela EDER (Max Planck Institute of Colloids and InterfacesPotsdam, Germany)

2023_06_23 Agorá Plakat_ Dr. Michaela Eder Australia is blessed by an extremely old ecosystem and a large biodiversity, especially in areas with extreme conditions caused by regularly occurring fires. To adjust to such environmental conditions plants have evolved various strategies. A particularly spectactular example is the seed storage and protection mechanism of the iconic Australian plant genus Banksia. Banksias can keep their seed on the plant for many years, building up a canopy stored seed bank. The delicate embryos are well protected in seed pods, consisting of dead yet functional tissues. Foci of our research were the protection of the seeds during storage and fire exposure of the cones and their 2-step opening mechanism, which depends on a climatic gradient and requires location-dependent temperatures between 55 – 72°C for initial opening and subsequent exposure to water for seed release. On the example of our research on these fascinating structures I will also talk about our collaboration with Austria and Australia and about the Max Planck Queensland Center for the Materials Science of Extracellular Matrices which started in April 2022  and its impacts on our research.

Academic career

  • from 09/2011: Research group leader at the Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Department of Biomaterials, Potsdam, Germany
  • 10/2007 – 09/2011: Post-doc at the Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Department of Biomaterials, Potsdam, Germany
  • 09/2004 – 09/2007: PhD student at the Max-Planck-Institute of Colloids and Interfaces, Department of Biomaterials, Potsdam, Germany
  • 07/2003 – 08/2004: research assistant at the Institute of Meteorology and Physics (since 01/2004 Department of Material Sciences and Process Engineering)
  • 03/2003 – 06/2003: research fellowship at the Institute of Meteorology and Physics
  • from 2002 – 2003 tutor at the Institute of Meteorology and Physics


  • since 01/2019 involved in the Excellence Cluster „Matters of Activity“
  • 01/2015 – 12/2018 Associated Member in the Excellence Cluster „Image-Knowledge-Gestaltung“
  • 11/2008 – 10/2012: leader of working group 2 “(Hygro)-mechanical behaviour of wood”, COST Action FP0802 – Experimental and Computational Micro-Characterization Techniques in Wood Mechanics