Tina van der Vlies and Bowen Ran at the Theory of History Conference in Beijing

BNU campus

Tina van der Vlies presented at the conference’s international roundtable themed ‘Western and Chinese Historical Consciousness’, where Bowen Ran acted as the moderator of this roundtable. This role suited his other efforts to facilitate intellectual exchanges between the Sinophone academia and the West.  

The 2023 International Conference on Theory of History and Historiography in Beijing, China, was organized to facilitate scholarly exchange and to delve into the latest advancements and cutting-edge theories in the field of both Chinese and Western historiography. 

On December 15th, dr. Tina van der Vlies was invited to remotely deliver a presentation at the international roundtable themed ‘Western and Chinese Historical Consciousness’ in line with her recently published book Echoing Events and her NWO Rubicon research project “Why School History Matters” (University of Cambridge). Her presentation entitled ‘Historical Consciousness and Cultural Constructions of Time’ explored the narrated constructions of time in history textbooks, and their impact on shaping individuals’ worldviews. By connecting disparate historical events via recurring historical analogies, narrative plots can transcend traditional historical boundaries and influence interpretations of the past as well as perceptions of the present and future. 

Other participants included Prof. Dr. Dominic Sachsenmaier from the University of Göttingen (‘National and Transnational History in Europe. The Public Contexts of Academic Debates’), Dr. Xin Fan from the University of Cambridge (‘The World as Historical Analogy’), and Dr. Kenan van de Mieroop from Leiden University (‘Time is money: commodity fetishism and linear historical time’).

The roundtable was moderated by Bowen Ran. As PhD candidate, he examines the configuration of historical distance in politically engaged Anglophone historiographies from the 1960s to the 1990s, based on the historical narrative of three historians: Howard Zinn (1922-2010), E. P. Thompson (1924-1993) and Natalie Zemon Davis (1928-2023). He also works as a freelance academic translator, having translated numerous books, articles, and videos into Chinese.


The conference was organized by the Center for Studies of Historical Theory & Historiography affiliated with the School of History, Beijing Normal University.

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