Projekt Power


Project Description

Proceeding from a broad conception of power as the heteronomous reduction of individual and collective autonomy which can be effected through military, economic, ideological, and political means, the project Power and Strategies of Social and Political Order addresses a range of questions pertinent to the study of various Asian and Middle Eastern societies from the ancient past to the present investigating systems and structures that inform power in visible and invisible ways.


Project Goals

Analysing the top-down state governance and the bottom-up answer to such impetuses through compliance and conformity, creative adaptation and resistance, it contributes to an improved historical, sociological, cultural, and anthropological understanding of the emergence, stability and transformation of political and social structures. The project is focused on interdisciplinary collaboration to help foster new ideas and approaches to challenges that affect our lives, such as political struggles, economy or environment, gender and sexuality, language and knowledge, inter-ethnic relations, etc. The research is based on consulting primary sources, archives and fieldwork, and provides an in-depth look at power in the grassroots movements as well as the bottom-up approaches of power in the micro-scale and domestic sphere.


Project Structure

The collaborative research platform Power and Strategies of Social and Political Order brings together a diverse, but coherent set of projects – modules – dealing with the pre-imperial period until the present, various forms of coercive and non-coercive power as well as rafts of legal, moral, ideological, and cultural means of exercising power over populations, which have formed crucial mechanisms aiding in the maintenance of domestic political and social order. The modules currently include:




  • Writing Fiction in Contemporary Cairo: Gender, Class, and State Bureaucracy (Giedre Sabaseviciute)
  • Manifesting Benevolence: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in Sadanobu’s Garden (Nobuko Toyosawa)
  • Art and Literature in Manchukuo: Search for ‘East Asian’ Culture (Nobuko Toyosawa)
  • Modernity and Modernism in Persophone Literary History (Thomas Loy)

This research cluster investigates questions of state governments and national identity, with a close look at policy and conflict and relationships between state and non-state actors. While political power has been studies for centuries, our research applies new theory and evidence to understand the systematic and structural issues that contribute to processes of nation-building and cultural security.

  • Balancing the Interests: Correlations of Ethnic and Foreign Policy in Contemporary China (Lumina: Ondřej Klimeš, Jarmila Ptáčková, Giulia Cabras, Jan Karlach)
  • Study group on Rule and Authority in the Eastern Kokonor Region (: Jarmila Ptáčková, in cooperation with: Jakub Hrubý (OI), Xaver Erhard (Leipzig University), Bianca Horlemann)
  • Tactical Bi-culturalism: Ethnic Entrepreneurship as Nuosu-Yi Identity Self-preservation in Contemporary Liangshan (Jan Karlach)

This thematic cluster examines the “digitalization” of everyday life as seen from the perspective of individuals wielding various, screen-equipped portable devices, who - forming themselves into groups or keep standing out as individuals - reflect and/or deflect the policies imposed on them in a top-down manner. For the increasingly post-digital societies seamlessly intertwining life on and off the global as well as variously segmented, secured, controlled and surveilled networks, where the online practices have increasingly significant consequences for the offline lives and lifeways, and where identities and social bubbles are fluid and prone to rapid transformation, there is a pressing need for reflexive, critical and comparative approach in order to find at least a temporarily firm ground for a responsible assessment of their future trajectories.


  • Ceremonies, Smartphones and Everyday Life: Poaching (in) the Weixin-mediated Cyberspace with the Nuosu-Yi Bimox of Liangshan (Jan Karlach)


Outcomes 2022


Power workshop

Power seminar series


Summer school Chaghatay:

In cooperation with University of Vienna

Lecturer: Eric Schluessel

Date: 20. - 24. 6. 2021


Budget 2022


        321 141    


        251 141    

Giedre Sabaseviciute

          40 616    

Ondřej Klimeš

          62 400    


Nobuko Toyosawa

          48 000    

Thomas Loy

          10 125    

Giulia Cabras

          40 000    

Jan Karlach

          50 000    


Seminar Series

          50 000    


Summer School

          20 000    

Ondřej Klimeš

          20 000    


Power Budget 2022

  1. Power Position

Andrew Levidis: 744 000 CZK


  1. Power Mobility 2022:

Giedre Sabaseviciute:

Field trip Cairo:

Writing Fiction in Contemporary Cairo: Gender, Class, and State Bureaucracy 



  • Co-editor of the collective issue of ESMA (Egypte-Soudan-Monde Arabe): The Ruins of the Welfare State: Ethnographies of the Margins of the State in the Middle East (to be published in 2023, co-edited with Carl Rommel (Upsala University)
  • Article in the collective issue mentioned above: “In the Shadow of the State: Literature and Cultural Palaces in Egypt” (tentative title, to be published in 2023 in ESMA)
  • “Becoming a Writer in a Neo-Liberal Age. Literary Subjectivities between the State and the Market in Egypt” (in process, to be published in 2023).
  • Women Writing in Cairo: Self-Care, Age, and Literary Informality in Cairo (in review, Journal of the Middle Eastern Women’s Studies, expected to be published in 2022).


“L’État se retire: les nouvelles réalités de la scène culturelle égyptienne », Insaniyyat conference, Tunis, Septembre 22-24, 2022.

Grant Applications

Planning to apply for the GACR grant with the project on the renewal of literary elites in Egypt as the consequence of the rise of the privatization of the cultural market in Egypt.

Requested total: 50 616 CZK


Ondřej Klimeš:

Research trip to Turkey or other locations with Uyghur diaspora. Research will be carried out by interviewing the Uyghur diaspora and acquiring other relevant sources.

Unrelated to Lumina

Outcome: article on the CCP’s treatment of Uyghur intellectuals and an article on state terror in Xinjiang / co-authored monograph on state terror in Xinjiang, estimated finishing of the manuscript 2023 or 2024.

Requested total: 82 400 CZK


Nobuko Toyosawa:

Field trip to Japan/Taipei:

4-week archival and library research trip in Japan and Taiwan to conduct my research on Manchurian art and culture and more specifically on the article, “The Aesthetic War: Literary Spaces in Manchukuo in the 1940s.” 

Book purchase 10 000 CZK

Outcome: article to either Journal of Japanese Studies, Harvard Journal for Asiatic Studies, or Journal of Asian Studies.  Assumed date of submission: August 2022. 

Requested budget total: 115 200 CZK (48000 Japan + 57200 Taiwan + 10000 books)


Thomas Loy:

Preparation of common research project – trip to Vienna:

part of the Power Project “Modernity and Modernism in Persophone Literary History” (with Prof. Dr. Christine Nölle-Karimi, Austrian Academy of Sciences Vienna) and for preparing/setting up the new Power Project “The Power of Periodicals – Central Asian Print Media in early 20th century” (with Prof. Dr. Jeanine Dagyeli, Austrian Academy of Sciences Vienna)

Outcome: Publication of a Reader in 2022. Publisher - Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. Editors: Thomas Loy, Christine Nölle Karimi, Roxane Haag Higuchi.

Requested budget: 10 125 CZK


Giulia Cabras:

Conference trip: presentation of a research paper- Conference on Asian Linguistic Anthropology, University of the Philippines, Dilman, November 2-5 2022

Paper title: The power of online communication among Northwest China ethnic minorities: language choices, visual elements, politics, and aspirational identities

 Unrelated to Lumina

 Requested budget: 49 000 CZK


Jan Karlach:

Research trip PRC

“Tactical Biculturalism: Ethnic Entrepreneurship as Nuosu-Yi Identity and Culture (Self-) promotion in Contemporary Liangshan,”

Exceeds Lumina budget due to Covid quarantine costs

Outcome: publication entitled: titled “National(ity) Rejuvenation and Ethnic Entrepreneurship: Cultural Production as Livelihood Among Bicultural Nuosu-Yi Youth in Contemporary Liangshan,” with a prospect for publication in The China Quarterly, Journal of Contemporary China, Modern China, or similarly impacted journals

Requested total:  75 000 CZK


  1. Power conference 2 days (Nobuko Toyosawa):

“Art and Literature in the Greater East Asia”, October 2022.  The purpose of this conference is to create a venue to exchange research perspectives, methodologies, approaches, and questions on the rise and fall of Japanese Empire with specialists from the world, and possibly to follow up with the publication project. 

Expected Outcomes: selected papers will be published in a Special Issue of Japan Forum (University of East Anglia)

Requested budget: 20 000 CZK


  1. Power Seminar Series 1 day (Jarmila Ptackova):

The changing governance modes in the Tibetan areas of China

Requested budget: 80 000 CZK


  1. Summer school čagatajština 5-7 days (Ondřej Klimeš, Thomas Loy):

In cooperation with University of Vienna

Lecturer: Eric Schluessel

Date: 20. - 24. 6. 2021

Requested budget: 45 000 CZK


 Total: 518 228 + 744 000 CZK (Levidis)