Thomas Heberer

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For other people named Thomas Heberer, see Thomas Heberer (disambiguation).

Thomas Heberer, PhD (born 13 November 1947) is Chair professor of East Asian Politics at the University Duisburg-Essen, Germany. He was born in Offenbach/Main in 1947. He studied Social Anthropology (major), Philosophy, Political Science, and Chinese Studies in Frankfurt, Goettingen, Mainz and Heidelberg. In 1977 he completed his PhD at the University of Bremen. The same year he went to China to work as a translator and reader for the Foreign Languages Press in Peking for more than four years (1977–81).


From 1983 to 1985 Heberer was working as a research fellow with the Overseas’s Museum in Bremen where he catalogued the Chinese collection and established the museum’s permanent China exhibition. He was then appointed research fellow at the Institute of Geography of the University of Bremen and conducted a research project on the private economic sector in China funded by the Volkswagen Foundation, which was followed by his habilitation (post-doctoral degree) thesis on the role of the individual (“informal”) economic sector for urban and social development. In 1989 he received the venia legendi for Political Science at the University of Bremen.[1]

From 1988 to 1991 he acted as Professor by proxy at the Institute of Political Science at the University Duisburg (Chair of East Asian Politics). 1991 Heberer was appointed professor of Chinese Economic Studies at the University for Applied Sciences in Bremen. 1992 he became Chair of East Asian Politics at the University of Trier. Since 1998 he has been Chair at the Institute of East Asian Studies of the University Duisburg-Essen.[2]

Heberer conducted his first field research on Chinese nationalities policy and development among the ethnic group of the Yi (Nuosu) in the Liangshan Mountains in southwestern Sichuan province in 1981.[3][4][5]

In the following decades he performed field research on almost an annual basis, e.g. on China’s private sector development, on rural urbanization and social change, on the political and social role of private entrepreneurs in China and Vietnam, on ethnic entrepreneurship, urban neighborhood communities, agency of local cadres or environmental governance, etc.[6]


Heberer has authored or co-authored 34 books and edited or co-edited 15 volumes in German, English and Chinese languages. His articles have been published in international journals and edited volumes in altogether ten languages. Among the most recent monographs (in English) are:[7]

  • Private Entrepreneurs in China and Vietnam. Social and Political Functioning of Strategic Groups. China Studies published for the Institute for Chinese Studies, University of Oxford, Leiden (Brill) 2003
  • Rural China, Economic and Social Change in the Late Twentieth Century, Armonk/London (Sharpe) 2006 (co-authored with Fan Jie and W.Taubmann)
  • Doing Business in Rural China: Liangshan’s New Ethnic Entrepreneurs, Seattle/London (University of Washington Press) 2007
  • The Politics of Community Building in Urban China, London, New York (Routledge) 2011 (co-authored with Christian Göbel)


  1. ^ CV of Thomas Heberer
  2. ^ CV of Thomas Heberer
  3. ^ Heberer, Thomas (1984). Nationalitätenpolitik und Entwicklungspolitik in den Gebieten nationaler Minderheiten in China. Bremer Beiträge zur Geographie und Raumplanung. Bremen: University of Bremen. 
  4. ^ Heberer, Thomas (ed.) (1987). Ethnic Minorities in China: Tradition and Transformation. Aachen: Herodot. 
  5. ^ Heberer, Thomas (1989). China and Its National Minorities: Autonomy or Assimilation?. Armonk and London: M.E. Sharpe. 
  6. ^ 洪雅筠,從红色憧憬到田野现實 - 王海 (Thomas Heberer) 舆德國中國研究的轉型 (From the red expectation to field reality - Thomas Heberer and the transformation of sinology in Germany). Taipeh: Taiwan National University, Master Thesis at the Institute of Political Science. 2011. 
  7. ^ Literature by and about Thomas Heberer in the German National Library catalogue

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