Nikola Chardonnens

Bild von Nikola Chardonnens

Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung "Schicksal, Freiheit und Prognose. Bewältigungsstrategien in Ostasien und Europa"

IKGF Research Project:

Happiness in Contemporary China (PhD-Project)

Curriculum Vitae

Nikola Chardonnens holds an MA in Chinese Studies, Philosophy, and Sociology (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, 2007). She has taught at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg as an associate lecturer since October 2008, and has been working for the International Consortium for Research in the Humanities since October 2009. She is currently working on her dissertation project focusing on happiness in contemporary China.

Areas of Research and Teaching

Happiness in contemporary China
Research and reference tools for Chinese studies
Environmental politics and issues in China

Dissertation Project: "To Be Safe and Sound" - Happiness in Contemporary China

The dissertation project focuses on conceptions of happiness in contemporary China. While for centuries research on happiness was the domain of philosophy, more recently happiness seems to be ubiquitous in the social sciences, particularly in the fields of sociology and psychology, and also in the media.

Happiness studies is a fairly new field of research that combines various disciplines and tries to approach the question of happiness from an interdisciplinary angle. Since 1999, a rapidly increasing number of empirical studies on happiness have been published in Chinese scholarly journals, but happiness research is still greatly indebted to Western studies on happiness. This indebtedness may be attributed to the fact that psychology as the leading discipline in contemporary happiness studies in China has long been influenced by the West and its terminologies and concepts. Yet in doing so, cultural differences and specifically Chinese characteristics and traits are being ignored or overlooked. Very few researchers, nevertheless, have recognized this by developing their own happiness scales and questionnaires that take into account attitudes towards values such as familial harmony, familial relationships, and obligations towards society as specific aspects of Chinese culture.

The project relies on various complementary approaches to happiness research. An analysis of social surveys carried out in China offers an excellent starting point into an understanding of happiness in contemporary China. Comparing Western questionnaires to those developed by Chinese social scholars to reflect specific cultural values in China will help identify Chinese conceptions of happiness. As this can only draw a partial understanding of happiness in contemporary China, however, complementary views will be drawn from the semantic field of happiness, popular literature such as self-help books, and field studies of ritual practices in Buddhist, Daoist, and Confucian temples. Together, these approaches are to provide more insight into what Chinese people wish for and perceive as happiness.


With Michael Lackner: Polyphony Embodied: Freedom and Fate in Gao Xingjian's Writings. Berlin; Boston: DeGruyter, May 2014 .

With Michael Lackner: “Introduction.” In: Polyphony Embodied: Freedom and Fate in Gao Xingjian's Writings. Berlin; Boston: DeGruyter, May 2014.


Forschungsfelder der Sinologie: Zur Vorbereitung wissenschaftlicher Abschlussarbeiten (Research Fields of Chineses Studies: In Preparation for Bachelor's and Master's Theses) (BA5/MA)

Techniken philologischen Umgangs mit chinesischsprachigen Quellen (Techniques for dealing with Chinese sources) (BA3)

Hilfsmittelkurs für Fortgeschrittene (Research and Reference Tools for Chinese Studies) (with Michael Schimmelpfennig) (MA)

Umweltprobleme und der politische Weg ihrer Bewältigung in China (Environmental issues and their political dealing in China) (MA)