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Matthyssen, Mieke
, Ph.D.


After obtaining a bachelor degree in social work (1994) and a bachelor and master degree in Chinese Studies (1998), and following an intensive course in modern Chinese at Sichuan University (1999), I started to work as a freelance trainer of Chinese culture and interpreter/translator in companies (Alcatel, Bayer, BASF), at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and in the Belgian social welfare sector (for Chinese clients). Later, I worked for three years for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs as chief representative of the Netherlands Business Support Office in the North of China (Shenyang). In this period, I became fascinated by the rapid social changes in China and the way Chinese people deal with them. At the same time, these three years immensely increased my insight into and intuitive sense of Chinese cultural patterns, behavior, and nuances, vital for understanding the characteristically Chinese cultural, social and psychological phenomena that I study now. After my long working experience in China, I took up a teaching and research assignment at the Department of Eastern Languages and Cultures of Ghent University, where I obtained my PhD with a thesis on the popular Chinese saying Nande hutu (‘It is difficult to be muddled’) and ‘The art of being muddled’ in contemporary Chinese society (public defense in 2012). Currently, I conduct anthropological research on Chinese health strategies and aspects of indigenous Chinese psychology, always approached from the perspectives of Chinese philosophy, religion and cosmology. In addition,  I would like to focus more on insights from Chinese medicine and traditional health practices, with a special interest in everyday-life practices (in contrast to the therapeutic).  In 2014, I also joined the Brussels Diplomatic Academy – VUB (Brussels Free University) as a guest lecturer for the course 'Dealing with China: Intercultural management issues'. I still regularly visit China to keep in touch with the fast and often disorienting societal changes.

Research interest

  • Chinese philosophies of life and practical wisdom
  • Indigenous Chinese psychology
  • Self-health and self-help in contemporary China
  • Social and cultural change in contemporary China
  • Cross-cultural communication (with focus on China)



Selected Publications

For publications, see :

Matthyssen, Mieke (2015) Zheng Banqiao’s Nande hutu and “the Art of Being Muddled” in Contemporary China, Contemporary Chinese Thought, 46:4, 3-25, DOI: 10.1080/10971467.2015.1067426 To link to this article: PDF

Matthyssen, Mieke (2013) Scholars Should Be Considered the Last of the Four Classes - The Case of Scholar-official Zheng Banqiao, p. 219-244. Edited by Müller, Claudius and Ptak, Roderich. JOURNAL OF ASIAN HISTORY, 47 (2013) 2, Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden. PDF