Staff – University of Copenhagen

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Lars-Emil Nybo Nissen

Lars-Emil Nybo Nissen

PhD fellow

Member of:

  • Universal Empire

I'm currently working on my PhD thesis titled:

Conceptualizing Late Pre-modernity

A comparative study of late pre-modern developmental trajectories in Eurasia.

The period 1600-1800 have traditionally been conceptualized differently in the Western and Eastern parts of Eurasia. In Europe, the period has been framed as “early modernity”, and understood as a crucial time period leading up to, and preparing the way for, the modern world. In China, it has traditionally been known as “late imperial times”, and thus seen as a period looking more backwards than into the future.

In the last couple of decades, the view of China as stagnant and conservative has been thoroughly challenged by a mass of revisionist scholarship, which has emphasized the dynamic qualities of Chinese society throughout its history. This has led to claims of a supposed “early modernity” in China, or even a global “early modernity”, claims which have as of yet not been generally accepted in the scholarly community.

This project is based on the proposition that the search for early modernity is in itself problematic. Rather than extend the concept to other parts of the world, we need to reevaluate the concept of a European early modernity in its entirety. If dynamics qualitatively similar to what we have termed “early modern” in a European context are to be found in areas outside Europe, and thus with a much weaker connection to the concept of modernity, we have to question its applicability to Europe as well.

The aim of this project is thus to reconceptualize the period in question as a global “late pre-modernity”. Inspired by the historical sociology of Michael Mann, it will seek to “map” the conditions and developmental trajectories of the period through a large-scale comparative study of some of the largest, most powerful political entities of the time: China, France & the Habsburg Empire.

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