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Anton Terhechte

Anton Terhechte

The Chinese Bookshelf of Islam: A World Religion’s Place in Modern China’s Literary Landscape (2022-)

Raum 124

After a prolonged stay in Shanghai studying Mandarin Anton received his BA in Area Studies with a focus on East Asia and a minor of Classical Chinese Literature from Humboldt University of Berlin. He did his MA at Freie Universität Berlin researching Chinese ethnic nationalism and Muslim identity construction in the early twentieth century. Meanwhile he also has been a student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, National Taiwan University and Beijing University. Anton has been working as a librarian at the Zweigbibliothek Asien-/Afrikawissenschaften und Islamische Theologie organizing Chinese literature. Since October 2022 Anton Terhechte is a PhD candidate at the EXC 2020 “Temporal Communities: Doing Literature in a Global Perspective” and the Friedrich Schlegel Graduiertenschule für Literaturwissenschaftliche Studien researching the classification and organization of Islamic Literature on the bookshelves of Modern China.  

Doctoral Research Project: The Chinese Bookshelf of Islam: A World Religion’s Place in Modern China’s Literary Landscape (2022-) (Anton Terhechte, M.A.)

Cluster project: The Invention of the Modern Religious Bookshelf: Canons, Concepts and Communities (2022-) (Prof. Dr. Christian Meyer)

Research Area 3: “Future Perfect”


In his dissertation project, Anton Terhechte is researching the (re)classification and (re)organization of religious literature in modern China, with a special focus on Islam. In the modern period religious literature has been reorganized and made accessible globally on what might be called the “Modern Religious Bookshelf” - separated from the belle-lettres or literature in its narrower modern sense. It thus has broken up formerly independent religious literary canons and rearranged them into a new ‘universal’ religious canon that speaks both to and of a trans-local and trans-temporal community of religious practitioners and readers.

The entanglement of China’s unique literary tradition and knowledge system and its modern transformation, Islam’s conflicted history within that and its ambiguous role as a world religion itself seems understudied and lacking theoretical conceptualization. Looking at Islam, particularly within the frame of China’s ‘literary landscape’, the project thus aims to transcend common configurations of Orientalism as a binary matter. In order to add to our understanding of the hegemonic globalization of Western knowledge systems manifested in the modern organization of literature. Such organization is understood as a normative and discursive practice. Taking into account a non-Western and authoritarian society and political system such as China, the project investigates the possible existence of ‘deviant canons’ of Islamic literature that are not approved by the state. It scrutinizes China’s particularistic ideology of cultural practice and values against the universalist idea of a global religious community and history.

The ‘modern bookshelf’ advances the material turn , it focuses on infrastructure in the study of religion and literature and draws from the Actor-network theory among others in its methodological approach. The bookshelf is hereby thought of both in the very physical sense of the word as well as the cataloging systems of libraries and bookstores that classify and organize literature in modern China.

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