UiO Honorary doctor 2017: Prasenjit Duara

Prasenjit Duara is a new honorary doctor at the University of Oslo and will hold a lecture entitled Sustainability and the Crisis of Transcendence: The Long View from Asia. The lecture is open to everyone. Welcome! 

September 1, 2017, the University of Oslo will award 16 new candidates with the degree of doctor of honoris causa, honorary doctorates.

Among them is Professor of East Asian Studies, Prasenjit Duara. 

About Prasenjit Duara

Prasenjit Duara is Professor of East Asia Studies at Duke University, USA. Most of his research has focused on the modern East Asian social and cultural history. He has addressed the important questions of our time, particularly on global warming and climate change.

At Duke University, Duara is the Oscar Tang Chair of East Asian Studies. He was previously Professor and Chair of the Dept of History and Chair of the Committee on Chinese Studies at the University of Chicago (1991-2008).

Subsequently, he became Raffles Professor of Humanities and Director, Asia Research Institute at National University of Singapore (2008-2015). Duara was born and educated in India and received his PhD in Chinese history from Harvard University.

Sustainability and the Crisis of Transcendence: The Long View from Asia

The crisis of global modernity has been produced by human overreach that was founded upon a paradigm of national modernization. Today, three global changes: the rise of non-western powers, the crisis of environmental sustainability and the loss of authoritative sources of transcendence – the ideals, principles and ethics once found in religions -- define our condition. 

The physical salvation of the world is becoming the transcendent goal of our times, transcending national sovereignty. The foundations of sovereignty can no longer be sought in tunnelled histories of nations; we are recognizing that histories have always been circulatory and the planet is a collective responsibility.

Duara re-consider the values and resources in Asian traditions — particularly of China and India — that  Max Weber found wanting in their capacity to achieve modernity. Several traditions in Asia, particularly in local communities offer different ways of understanding the relationship between the personal, ecological and universal. 

The idea of transcendence in these communities is more dialogical than radical or dualistic: separating God or the human subject from nature. Transnational civil society, NGOS, quasi-governmental and inter-governmental agencies committed to the inviolability or sacrality of the ‘commons’ will need to find common cause with these communities struggling to survive.

Professor Duara will speak about some of the themes in his book The Crisis of Global Modernity: Asian Traditions and a Sustainable Future Cambridge University Press, 2015. 


The talk will be followed by a Q&A session (ca 11:30-12:00).

Lectures by the honorary doctors at the Faculty of Humanities

Professor Duara's lecture will be preceded by a lecture by Professor Ellen Bialystok, York University, Toronto, on Lifelong Bilingualism: Reshaping Mind and Brain. One of the foremost international researchers on bilingualism and cognitive neuroscience, Professor Bialystok is the other honorary doctor of the Faculty of Humanities in 2017.


The Faculty of Humanities

Published July 27, 2017 12:30 PM - Last modified Aug. 28, 2017 1:43 PM