The Asian Modern

Culture, Capitalist Development, Singapore

C. J. W.-L. Wee

The Asian Modern

C. J. W.-L. Wee

Distributed for Hong Kong University Press

224 pages | 6 x 9
Hardcover $50.00 ISBN: 9789622098596 Published October 2007 AAUKEU - ALL AMERICAS & UNITED KINGDOM & EUROPE
How does one comprehend the phenomenon of the modernization of an Asian society in a globalized East Asian context? With this opening question, the author proceeds to give an account of how the modernization processes for postcolonial societies in Asia, such as those of India, Malaysia, and Singapore, are fraught with collaborations and conflicts between different socio-political, historical, economic, and cultural agents. Such ambivalent dynamics contribute to what Wee argues as a ‘revealing distortion’ of the extant models of Western modernity, which is nonetheless rooted in the politics of worldwide capitalism. Wee’s narrative refuses to accept the uncritical interpretation of the modernizing processes in Asia as liberation from the hegemony of Euro-American capitalism. But neither is Wee prepared to concede that all cultural initiatives in the postcolonial societies are, therefore, denied all power to devise alternative forms of expression in the face of this haunting presence. It is the persistent effort to see the many faces of modernization in Asia in their full complexity that sets this study apart. Readers will discover that what seems to be the modernization of a single geopolitical entity is inevitably linked to the dynamics of various agents in other locations at different times, which makes us reflect on the existence of the many ‘distortions’ in our societies.
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