Color photograph of a light skinned man wearing a blazer and sitting at a desk in a book-lined professor's office, typing on a laptop computer

John Delury

Tsao Family Rome Prize
September 1, 2023–July 5, 2024
Professor of Chinese Studies, Yonsei University
Project title
Thinking through Tianxia in Rome
Project description

I propose to spend a year at the American Academy in Rome reading and writing, conversing and reflecting, on philosophies of empire, placing the late imperial Chinese discourse of tianxia in dialogue with early modern European political thought. The central philosopher in my project is the seventeenth-century Confucian thinker Gu Yanwu, and my method consists of rethinking his seminal use of the Chinese word for empire (tianxia) by casting it in a comparative light—exploring linkages and differences with political thinking in early modern Europe, focusing on the Mediterranean states (Spain and France and the legacy of Rome). The concrete goal is to produce a book manuscript. In the process, I hope to generate insights from history and philosophy that might prove useful in navigating our emerging twenty-first-century world of competition among the “super-states” of Europe, the United States, and China.