Pál Nyíri

Professor of global history from an anthropological perspective at the Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Pál Nyíri has doctorates in history from Moscow and in sociology from Budapest. He has also studied chemistry in New Jersey and Asian studies in Oregon and held research fellowships in Oxford, Budapest, Berlin, and Singapore. His current research focuses on the nexus between Chinese migration and ideas of development, particularly in Southeast Asia. His latest books are Mobility and Cultural Authority in Contemporary China and, with Joana Breidenbach, Seeing Culture Everywhere … from Genocide to Consumer Habits (both University of Washington Press). See his blog.

The Philosophers’ Trial and the Sinification of Hungary.

Pál Nyíri | 18.02.2013

Orbán Viktor, the prime minister of Hungary, is planning to visit China this spring. His visit will come a year after the criminal investigation against Agnes Heller — the best-known living Hungarian philosopher — and several colleagues in philosophy and history for possible embezzlement was dismissed for ” lack of crime” of research grants following what the [...]

Against culturalism.

Jean-Loup Amselle, Rétrovolutions. Essais sur les primitivismes contemporains, 2010.

Pál Nyíri | 05.03.2012

This new collection of eminent French anthropologist Jean-Loup Amselle’s essays, along with the Comaroffs’ Ethnicity, Inc., Peter Geschiere’s The Perils of Belonging, and Seeing Culture Everywhere by Joana Breidenbach and this reviewer, fits in a recent surge of books polemicizing against the worldwide tendency to explain almost anything, from genocide to consumer behaviour, through ethnoracially [...]

The rise of children’s books and the discourse of development in Republican China.

Andrew F. Jones, Developmental Fairy Tales. Evolutionary Thinking and Modern Chinese Culture, 2011.

Pál Nyíri | 08.12.2011

Faith in the improvability of the human condition is in short supply in the West these days. In China, however, it has been unbroken for nearly a century, even as the desirable end point of development has been repeatedly revised with the ascent and demise of Maoism. One of the most striking features that distinguish [...]

Evaluating Academia.

Between Old Hierarchy and New Orthodoxy.

Barak Kalir et Pál Nyíri | 12.07.2010

There is a growing body of literature and events critiquing the spread of ‘audit cultures’1 in Western research institutions.In brief, these audit cultures imply the assignment of numerical values to the ‘output’ of researchers, the ranking and/or financing of institutions, departments and/or individuals based on these values, and, perhaps most significantly, the dependence of the [...]


Foreign Concessions: the Past and Future of a Form of Shared Sovereignty.

Pál Nyíri | 23.11.2009

Dear Rector, Ladies and Gentlemen, A few years ago, Liu Jianjun, a former official from the city of Baoding, near Peking, achieved a measure of fame in China’s media through his efforts to promote the settlement of Chinese farmers in Africa. In an interview, he described these efforts in the following way: The lease on [...]

French Perspectives on Tourism: Act 2.

Équipe Mit, Tourismes 2: Moments de lieux, 2005.

Pál Nyíri | 24.04.2006

The social sciences have long been reluctant to take tourism seriously. Despite tourism’s obvious prominence as a social practice in the lives of hundreds of millions, when American sociologist Dean MacCannell wrote The Tourist in 1974, he was ahead of his time. The Tourist became a classic only in the fringe field of “tourism studies,” [...]

Das Erbe der Menschheit. Peer review

Neue Touristennationen und die Globalisierung der Natur.

Joana Breidenbach et Pál Nyíri | 22.09.2005

The concept of “heritage” arose as from nineteenth-century efforts by emergent modern Western nation-states to endow their landscapes and built environments with national significance. Today, however, some of the central activists of the heritage movement are global rather than national players. The highest-profile effort to promote the idea of a “global heritage” is Unesco’s World Heritage list. What happens to sites that are promoted from national to global heritage status? Do they indeed become vehicles [...]

Scenic spot Europe: Chinese travellers on the Western periphery. Peer review

Pál Nyíri | 25.03.2005

Tourism has long been seen as an attribute of Western modernity, in which the non-Western subject can only be the ‘touree’ that copes with its consequences. Yet organized, commercialized mass tourism is spreading to vast populations that had not known it previously. This has potentially momentous consequences both for subjectivities in the societies in which tourism is emerging and for the countries that become exporters of leisure to newly mobile non-Western populations — whose ideas of [...]