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Anna Lisa Ahlers


Anna L. Ahlers is currently assembling a Lise Meitner Research Group at the MPIWG, China in the Global System of Science, which will explore the many facets of China’s stunning ascent in the global system of science in recent decades qualitatively and quantitatively. Her own current research projects focus on the political regime as an environmental factor for science, and the intersections and interactions of scientists/scholars with the government in local policy-making in the PR China.

Anna Ahlers studied sinology and political science at the University of Tübingen, Peking University, and Renmin University (PR China), and holds a PhD in China Studies from the University of Tübingen. Before joining the MPIWG in January 2020, she was a tenured Associate Professor in Modern Chinese Society and Politics at the University of Oslo, Norway. She has also worked at the University of Bonn (FIW), Zhejiang University (PR China), the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS), Academia Sinica (RoChina), and the University of Chicago where she was a Wigeland Visiting Professor in the academic year 2018/19. She is a board member of the Junge Akademie (BBAW und Leopoldina) and a fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin in 2020/21.

Anna Ahlers has published widely on the political system of the PR China, especially on local governance, forms of regime legitimation, the implementation of rural reconstruction programs, and the urban “war against smog,” and, in a more comparative perspective, on the bipolarity of authoritarianism and democracy in the 21st century. She is a member of the editorial board of The Environments of East Asia series (Cornell University Press), an editor of Soziale Systeme (De Gruyter), a member of the executive committee of the European Journal of East Asian Studies (Brill), and associate editor of the Journal of Chinese Governance (Routledge).


Ahlers, A. L., Krichewsky, D., Moser, E., & Stichweh, R. (2021). Democratic and Authoritarian Political Systems in 21st Century World Society. Vol. I.: Differentiation, Inclusion, Responsiveness. Bielefeld: Transcript. [PubMan

Stichweh, R., & Ahlers, A. L. (2021). The Bipolarity of Democracy and Authoritarianism and its Societal Origins. In Democratic and Authoritarian Political Systems in 21st Century World Society. Vol. 1: Differentiation, Inclusion, Responsiveness (pp. 209-240). Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2021). The Rise of Complexity: Internal Differentiation of Political Systems. In Democratic and Authoritarian Political Systems in 21st Century World Society. Vol. 1: Differentiation, Inclusion, Responsiveness (pp. 39-107). Bielefeld: Transcript Verlag. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., Halskov Hansen, M., & Svarverud, R. (2020). The Great Smog of China: A Short History of Air Pollution. Ann Arbour, MI: Association for Asian Studies. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Gunter, S. (in press). Elections and Post-election Governance in China’s Villages and Townships. In H. X. Zhang, & Q. F. Zhang (Eds.), Routledge Handbook of Rural China. Routledge. [PubMan

Sagild, R. Å., & Ahlers, A. L. (2019). Working for Harmony and Innovation? Political Inclusion of Diversified Elites via the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Bonn: Forum Internationale Wissenschaft. [PubMan

Shen, Y., & Ahlers, A. L. (2019). Blue Sky Fabrication in China: Science-Policy Integration in Air Pollution Regulation Campaigns for Mega-Events. Environmental Science and Policy, 94, 135-142. doi:10.1016/j.envsci.2018.12.005. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Stichweh, R. (2019). The Bipolarity of Democracy and Authoritarianism: Value Patterns, Inclusion Roles and Forms of Internal Differentiation of Political Systems. Sociologia & Antropologia, 9(3), 819-846. [PubMan] [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., Heberer, T., & Schubert, G. (2019). The Critical Role of Local Governance in China’s Political System. In J. Yu, & S. Guo (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Local Governance in Contemporary China (pp. 73-93). [PubMan

Sagild, R. Å., & Ahlers, A. L. (2019). Honorary Intermediaries? The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conferences in Theory and Practice. China Perspectives, 2, 9-16. doi:10.4000/chinaperspectives.9016. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2019). Review of: Heilman, Sebastian: Red Swan: How Unorthodox Policy-Making Facilitated China's Rise. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press 2018. The China Review, 19(2), 177-179. [PubMan] [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2019). Political inclusion in contemporary China. Journal of Chinese Governance, 4(3), 201-206. doi:10.1080/23812346.2019.1636604. [PubMan]

Ahlers, A. L. (Ed.). (2019). Forms of Political Inclusion in Contemporary [Special Issue]. Journal of Chinese Governance, 4(3). [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Shen, Y. (2018). Breathe Easy? Local Nuances of Authoritarian Environmentalism in China’s Battle Against Air Pollution. The China Quarterly, 234, 299-319. doi:10.1017/S0305741017001370. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2018). Introduction: Chinese Governance in the Era of ‘Top-Level Design’. Journal of Chinese Governance, 3(3), 263-267. doi:10.1080/23812346.2018.1487738. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Schubert, G. (2018). Local Cadre Elites and Policy Implementation in Contemporary China. In Y. Guo (Ed.), Local Elites in Post-Mao China (pp. 17-38). London: Routledge. [PubMan

Shen, Y., & Ahlers, A. L. (2018). Local Environmental Governance Innovation in China: Staging ‘Triangular Dialogues’ for Industrial Air Pollution Control. Journal of Chinese Governance, 3(3), 351-369. [PubMan]

Ahlers, A. L., & Shen, Y. (2018). 中国城市大气污染治理的政策与行动 [Policies and Actions for Air Pollution Control in Chinese Cities]. In Z. Liu, & M. H. Hansen Eds., 仰望窗外的天空: 中外科学家对话空气环境与治理 [A Window on the Sky: Chinese and Foreign Scholars Discuss the Atmospheric Environment and Its Governance] (pp. 145-154). Hang zhou: Zhe jiang da xue chu ban she. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2018). 让蓝天重新绽放: 德国鲁尔区的空气污染与治理 [Let a Blue Sky Shine Again: Air Pollution Governance in the German Ruhr Area]. In Z. Liu, & M. H. Hansen (Eds.), 仰望窗外的天空: 中外科学家对话空气环境与治理 [A Window on the Sky: Chinese and Foreign Scholars Discuss the Atmospheric Environment and Its Governance] (pp. 133-145). Hang zhou: Zhe jiang da xue chu ban she. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (Ed.). (2018). Chinese Governance in the Era of ‘Top-Level Design’ [Special Issue]. Journal of Chinese Governance, 3(3). [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2017). Review of: Jun, Ma: The Economics of Air Pollution in China: Achieving Better and Cleaner Growth. New York: Columbia University Press 2017. The China Quarterly, 231, 814-815. doi:10.1017/S0305741017001138. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Stichweh, R. (2017). The Bipolarity of Democracy and Authoritarianism. Bonn: Forum Internationale Wissenschaft. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Hansen, M. H. (2017). Air Pollution: How Will China Win its Self-Declared War Against it? In E. Sternfeld (Ed.), Routledge Handbook of Environmental Policy in China (pp. 83-96). London: Routledge. [PubMan]

Ahlers, A. L., & Yu, J. (2016). What Does Xi Jinping’s Top-Down Leadership Mean for Innovation in China? ChinaFile Conversation. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Stepan, M. (2016). Top-level Design and Local-level Paralysis: Local Politics in Times of Political Centralisation. In S. Heilmann, & M. Stepan (Eds.), China’s Core Executive: Leadership Styles, Structures and Processes under Xi Jinping” (pp. 34-39). Berlin: Mercator Institute for China Studies. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., Heberer, T., & Schubert, G. (2016). Whither Local Governance in Contemporary China? Reconfiguration for More Effective Policy Implementation. Journal of Chinese Governance, 1(1), 55-77. doi:10.1080/23812346.2016.1138700. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Hansen, M. H. (2016). Kinas Luftforurensning – Kimen til sosial og politisk forandring? (China’s Air Pollution: Seed of Social and Political Change?). Norsk Klimastiftelse: Rapport, (4), 23-26. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2015). 鲁尔区《变回蓝天》对北京的启示 Lu'er qu <bian hui lantian> dui beijing de qishi (How the Sky over the Ruhr Became Blue Again: A Vision for Beijing). 小康 Xiaokang (Insight China), (23). [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2015). Weaving the Chinese Dream on the Ground? Local Government Approaches to “New-Typed” Rural Urbanization. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 20(2), 121-142. doi:10.1007/s11366-015-9342-6. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Schubert, G. (2015). Effective Policy Implementation in China’s Local State. Modern China, 41(4), 372-405. doi:10.1177/0097700413519563. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2014). Kommunalpolitik in China: Warum wir chinesische Politik erst verstehen, wenn wir auch die lokale Ebene in den Blick nehmen. MERICS China Monitor, 10, 1-11. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2014). Rural Policy Implementation in Contemporary China: New Socialist Countryside. London: Routledge. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2014). Staat – Gesellschaft – Markt in China: Plädoyer für Analysen im kommunalen Raum (State – Society – Market: Making a Case for Analyses at the Local Level). In Zweites Deutsch-Chinesisches Akademisches Forum 2014 – Tagungsband (pp. 32-33). [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2014). Lokales Regieren und administrative Interessenvermittlung in China. In H. Heinelt (Ed.), Modernes Regieren in China (pp. 89-115). Baden-Baden: Nomos. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., Meissner, M., & Zhu, Y. (2013). Mehr Markt und mehr politische Zentralisierung: Was bewirkt der chinesische Reformbeschluss 2013? MERICS China Monitor, 3, 1-15. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Schubert, G. (2013). 作为战略性群体的县乡干部。基于三个县推进社会主义 新农村建设的分析 [County and Township Cadres as a Strategic Group: An Analysis of Three Counties’ Implementation of the Construction of a New Socialist Countryside]. In T. Heberer, G. Schubert, & X. Yang (Eds.), 主动”的地方政治 [Pro-active local politics] (pp. 171-193). Beijing: Zhong yang bian yi chu ban she. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Schubert, G. (2013). Strategic Modelling: “Building of a New Socialist Countryside” in Three Chinese Counties. The China Quarterly, 261, 831-849. doi:10.1017/S0305741013001045. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2012). Review of: Alpermann, Björn: Politics and Markets in Rural China. London: Routledge 2012. ASIEN. The German Journal on Contemporary Asia, 123, 147-149. [PubMan

Schubert, G., & Ahlers, A. L. (2012). County and Township Cadres as a Strategic Group: “Building a New Socialist Countryside” in Three Provinces. The China Journal, 67, 67-86. [PubMan

Schubert, G., & Ahlers, A. L. (2012). Participation and Empowerment at the Grassroots: Chinese Village Elections in Perspective. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefiel. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2011). Review of: Saw, Swee-Hok and John Wong: Regional Economic Development in China. Singapore: ISEAS Publishing 2009. ASIEN. The German Journal on Contemporary Asia, 121, 110-112. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2011). Review of: Ho, Khai Leong: Connecting and Distancing: Southeast Asia and China. Singapore: ISEAS Publishing 2009. ASIEN. The German Journal on Contemporary Asia, 119, 99-100. [PubMan

Schubert, G., & Ahlers, A. L. (2011). ‘Constructing a New Socialist Countryside’ and Beyond: An Analytical Framework for Studying Policy Implementation and Political Stability in Contemporary China. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 16(1), 19-46. doi:10.1007/s11366-010-9139-6. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Schubert, G. (2011). ‘Adaptive Authoritarianism’ in Contemporary China: Identifying Zones of Legitimacy Building. In Z. Deng, & S. Guo (Eds.), Reviving Legitimacy: Lessons for and from China (pp. 61-81). Lanham: Lexington Books. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & Schubert, G. (2010). 新农村建设的政策实施绩效。对浙江省庆元县的印象 [The Consequences of Implementing the Policy of Constructing a New Socialist Countryside. Impressions from Qingyuan County in Zhejiang Province]. In S. Chen (Ed.), 后金融危机的政府与市场 [Government and Market in the Era after the Global Financial Crisis] (pp. 261-279). Beijing: China Social Science Press. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L., & König, V. (2006). Widerstand und Loyalität im ländlichen China. Greater China Occasional Paper, 4, 1-22. [PubMan

Ahlers, A. L. (2006). Environmental Mediation. In S. Laohasiriwong, & M.-C. Ang (Eds.), Natural Resources Related Conflict Management in Southeast Asia (pp. 223-239). Khon Kaen: Siriphan Press. [PubMan]

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