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Ernils Larsson, PhD, Uppsala University.

Constitutional Secularism in Japan and the "Shinto Right", 1997-2018.

Ernils Larsson is a PhD candidate in the history of religions at Uppsala University, Sweden. In his dissertation research he explores how the categories of ‘religion’ and ‘Shinto’ have been interpreted and negotiated in Japanese courts of law during the postwar period, with a particular focus on the 1997 Supreme Court ruling on the Ehime Tamagushiryo case. His research situates the legal debates on state-Shinto relations within the context of postwar Japanese nationalism, where vestiges of prewar ‘State Shinto’ are often presented as being something inherently different from ‘religion’, something intimately connected to Japanese identity.





Xiao (Alvin) Yang, PhD, University of Kassel.

Theorizing the (Changing) Global Order: Emerging Chinese IR Theories and the Belt and Road Initiative

Xiao (Alvin) Yang is currently a PhD candidate and lecturer at the University of Kassel in Germany. His dissertation examines the emerging Chinese international relations (IR) and international political economy (IPE) theories and the Belt and Road initiative. Moreover, it aims to theorize the current (changing) global order where there are on-going tensions among globalization, regional integration and the resurgence of nationalism. His research interests include global IR/IPE theories, Chinese and Canadian IR/IPE theories, China’s Belt and Road Initiative, global governance, global political economy, research methods, econometrics, and philosophy of science/s and history/s.

Before he pursues studies in social sciences, he was a passionate musician and studied music at York University, Canada, where he obtained Bachelor of Fine Arts with honours. He studied music with several world-renowned musicians, such as Jim Blackley (Jazz), Trichy Sankaran (Indian music), Barry Romberg (Jazz drumming), Rick Lazar (Brazilian and Latin music), Kwasi Dunyo (Ghanaian music), and Steve Mancuso (drumset and world percussions).

In 2010, he took a summer course, sociology of religions (taught by Joseph Bryant), offered by the University of Toronto, which has made him deeply interested in social sciences, and has subsequently led him to shift his studies from music to social sciences. Afterwards, he spent one-year at Stockholm University in Sweden where he studied political science, business management and anthropology as an exchange student. To deepen his knowledge of economics, he went to the Berlin School of Economics and the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in China where he obtained a master’s degree in economics and a master’s degree in international business respectively.

To better understand German and French philosophy and European history, he learned German at Heidelberg Universität, Humboldt Universität and München Universität, as well as French at Université Jean Monnet in France, Western University at Trois-Pistoles and Laval Université in Quebec.

He has written on a variety of subjects, ranging from music to philosophy, from politics to economics. His newest academic writing, “Theorizing BRICS: Does BRICS Conform or Provide an Alternative to the Current Global Order?”, will be published in Xing Li edited book, The International Political Economy of BRICS, Routledge (2019). He was a visiting fellow at the Center for East and South-East Asia Studies at Lund University in Sweden and currently is one at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.