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 [...]


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 [...]

Seeing Culture Everywhere.

Pál Nyíri et Joana Breidenbach | 12.11.2009

“In the light of her son’s comments she reconsidered the scene at the mosque, to see whose impression was correct. Yes, it could be worked into quite an unpleasant scene. The doctor had begun by bullying her, (…) he had alternately whined over his grievances and patronized her, had run a dozen ways in a [...]

French Perspectives on Tourism: Act 2.

Équipe MIT

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.

Pál Nyíri et Joana Breidenbach | 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 of a shared global [...]

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

Pál Nyíri | 25.03.2005

Le tourisme a longtemps été perçu comme une caractéristique de la modernité occidentale, les non-Occidentaux ne pouvant être que des « tourees » — une composante passive et résignée de la ressource touristique. À présent organisé, le tourisme de masse touche de larges populations qui ne l’avaient auparavant jamais connu. Ce phénomène recèle la potentialité d’une dynamique impliquant à la fois la subjectivité des individus appartenant aux sociétés dans lesquelles le tourisme se développe, et les [...]