ChinaTalks: China’s international relations and harmonious world - Time, space and multiplicity in world politics

Book cover of China’s international relations and harmonious world


As scholars and publics look for alternatives to what is understood as a violent Western world order, many claim that China can provide such an alternative through the Chinese dream of a harmonious world. This talk takes this claim seriously and examines its effects by tracing the notion across several contexts: the policy documents and speeches that launched harmony as an official term under previous president Hu Jintao; the academic literatures that asked what a harmonious world might look like; the propaganda and mega events that aimed to illustrate it; the online spoofing culture that is used to criticise and avoid ‘harmonization’; and the incorporation of harmony into current president Xi Jinping’s ‘Chinese dream’.

The talk will find contemporary Chinese society and international relations saturated with harmony. Yet, rather than offering an alternative to problems in ‘Western’ thought, it counter-intuitively argues that harmony has not taken place, is not taking place, and will not take place. The argument unfolds as a contribution to wider debates on time, space and multiplicity in world politics. Offering analysis of the important but understudied concept of harmony, Astrid H. M. Nordin provides new and creative insights into wider contemporary issues in Chinese politics, society and scholarship.

Short bio 

Astrid Nordin

Astrid H. M. Nordin is Director of Lancaster University China Centre, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, Senior Fellow of the Institute of Social Futures, and a research fellow at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. Her research engages critical theories of global politics, with a special focus on Chinese political thought and cultural governance. She has recently published articles on these topics in journals such as International Affairs, Review of International Studies, Millennium, and China Information. Her monograph China’s International Relations and Harmonious World: Time, space and multiplicity in World Politics is published with Routledge.

Practical information

Date and time: February 20, 15:30-17:00

Place: UCPH City Campus, NIAS, meeting room 18.1.08, Øster Farimagsgade 5, 1353 Cph