Xiao Alvin Yang

Kurzexposé zum Promotionsvorhaben von Xiao Alvin Yang


The Evolution of Chinese IR Theories: Transnational and Transcultural Knowledge Innovation, Production and Diffusion:


This dissertation aims to understand and theorize the emergence and evolution of Chinese international relations (IR) theories in the context of the ongoing debates and movements of global IR, non-West IR, and post-Western IR in the discipline. In particular, it focuses on the theoretical construction period of Chinese IR from 2000 to the present. It asks: Why and under what conditions are Chinese IR theories emerging and evolving? What are the key ideational and material forces driving the evolution of Chinese IR in the global knowledge system? Do they challenge American hegemony in the IR discipline or provide theoretical alternatives?

This dissertation tries to answer these questions in two parts. In part one, I begin by exploring and identifying emerging IR theories around the world. Focusing on the emerging IR concepts and theories in China, I try to ascertain the underlying epistemological, ontological, methodological and historical assumptions of these emerging Chinese IR theories. Moreover, I try to understand how these assumptions inform how Chinese IR scholars theorize the world order. In addition, I compare and contrast these theories with both Western mainstream and critical IR theories.

​In the second part of the dissertation, I try to identify and understand the key actors and driving forces of the development of Chinese IR theories. Using a combination of exploratory ethnography, bibliometric analysis, systemic review and informal interviews, I aim to map out the knowledge innovation, production and dissemination of these Chinese IR theories. Furthermore, I try to ascertain the key sites of knowledge innovation, production and dissemination of Chinese IR, as well as how they are positioned on the global knowledge value chain.

Theoretically, I draw from and further develop Tang Shiping's social evolution paradigm. This theoretical framework enables a trans-disciplinary approach by drawing variables, concepts and their insights not only from IR/IPE but also from other disciplines such as developmental economics, area studies, critical globalization studies, anthropology, conceptual history and philosophy of science. Methodologically, it uses both quantitative and qualitative methods.

This dissertation makes theoretical and empirical contributions to Global IR and Chinese IR and, more broadly, to the global political economy, sociology of knowledge and the global knowledge economy. Moreover, it has implications for future studies of IR and beyond, especially on the rise and decline of knowledge innovation, production and diffusion in other fields and disciplines in the global knowledge system.



Xiao Alvin Yang is a Ph.D. candidate (final stages) in political science and economics at Universität Kassel, Germany and a visiting predoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. His dissertation examines the emerging Chinese international relations theories from the perspective of transnational and transcultural knowledge innovation, production and diffusion. He takes a transdisciplinary, transnational and multi-sited approach to research. In particular, he draws theoretical insights from global political economy, sociology of knowledge, international relations, development economics, higher education and music.

Alvin has led a number of projects, such as Theoretical Debates on Asian Series with support from the York Centre for Asian Research and the International Center for Development and Decent Work, Democracy in the Time of COVID-19 funded by the University of Toronto COVID-19 Student Engagement Award, and Anti-Asian Racism During COVID-19 Project jointly funded by the Canada-China Initiatives Fund and the Canadian Institutes of Health. Currently, Alvin co-edits a book, The Return of Yellow Peril: Anti-Asian Racism during the COVID-19 Pandemic (tentative title), and a special issue, Transculturality of Anti-Asian Racism, as well as co-organizes the sociology of knowledge research cluster at the Canadian Sociological Association. Moreover, Alvin is the co-founder and co-director of Friday IR Café (a scholarly forum where scholars and students meet weekly to discuss theories)

During his PhD, he has conducted multi-sited research, presented at conferences and participated in workshops in Europe, Asia and North America. He has been a visiting researcher at Lund University, Sweden, the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, the University of Ottawa, and York University, Canada. He has also delivered guest lectures around the world, from Malmö University in Sweden to Goethe University in Germany to Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China.

To learn more about Alvin and his research activities, public engagement, and publications, please visit his website: https://www.xiaoalvinyang.com

Contact: xiaoalvinyang[at]gmail[dot]com

X, formerly Twitter: @xiaoalvinyang

Research Interest: IR Theories; Development; Knowledge Production; Global Migration; Higher Education