Civilization, Nation and Modernity in East Asia
By Chih-Yu Shih
Routledge – 2012 – 246 pages
This book explores the crisis of cultural identity which has assaulted Asian countries since Western countries began to have a profound impact on Asia in the nineteenth century. Confronted by Western 'civilization' and by 'modernity', Asian countries have been compelled to rethink their identity, and to consider how they should relate to Western 'civilization' and 'modernity'. The result, the author argues, has been a redefining by Asian countries of their own character as nations, and an adaptation of 'civilization' and 'modernity' to their own special conditions. Asian nations, the author contends, have thereby engaged with the West and with modernity, but on their own terms, occasionally, and in various inconsistent ways in which they could assert a sense of difference, forcing changes in the Western concept of civilization. Drawing on postmodern theory, the Kyoto School, Confucian and other traditional Asian thought, and the actual experiences of Asian countries, especially China and Japan, the author demonstrates that Asian countries’ redefining of the concept of civilization in the course of their quest for an appropriate postmodern national identity is every bit as key a part of 'the rise of Asia' as economic growth or greater international political activity.
"In this highly original, deeply probing, and imaginatively argued book Chih-yu Shih adds a singularly original voice to a vast chorus that, in both major and minor keys, is singing the hymns about the rise of China and the Asian century. Since the economic and military facets of power shifts can be decoded best through cultural lenses, Civilization, Nation and Modernity becomes an indispensable source for any serious student of East Asia." – Peter J. Katzenstein, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr. Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, USA
Introduction: Asian Betweenness: The Civilizational Nation and National Civilization Book I. Up from the Civilizational Divide: An Asian Intellectual Path to the Universal Self Part 1: Asianism in Theoretical Discourse 1. What Is the World? The Beginning of World History in Asianism 2. What Is the West? The Oriental Self That Has No "Other" 3. What Is China? An Epistemological Threat to Japan’s Place Part 2: Asianism in Practical Discourse 4. Bridge of Civilizations in Nothingness: The Manchukuo Recast 5. Son of East Asia: A Quest for Transcendence in Colonial Taiwan Book II. Rise of an Unknown? The National Self and the Multiple Appropriations of China Part 3: Reonstructing China 6. Assigning Role Characteristics to China on the Rise: Role State vs. Ego State 7. Doing away with Nationalism? Emerging Liberal Plea for Self-transformation 8. Substituting Self-Governance for Global governance: The Statist Theme of Responsibility Part 4: Deconstructing China 9. Retrieving the Lost Choice: How Does Death Matter in the Confucian IR? 10. Asserting Alternative Modernities: Sub-national Village Development as Anomaly. Conclusion: Race for Harmony: Galton’s Civilizational Puzzle
Chih-yu Shih is Professor of Political Science at National Taiwan University.