Mar 14, 2014

Asia and (Post-)Modernity in Historical Narratives


"Overcoming of Being Asian? Temporality and Spatiality in Post-War Japan's Thoughts on Modernity," Political Science Review 36 (June 2008): 33-65. (with Chih-yu Shih) (in Chinese) 


An obsession with modernity plagued Japan's modern thinkers as modernity seemed the key to Japan's inferiority to the West. One solution was to return to an Asia that enabled Japan to overcome modernity's alien features. However, this stress on Asia practically led to imperialist expansion. As a remedy, Maruyama Masao decided to bring modernity back into Japan's pre-modern history, while Takeuchi Yoshimi relied on an Asia that was a process rather than an entity. Koyasu Nobukni echoes Takeuchi with a postmodern narrative on East Asia that denies any claim to fundamentalism. In contrast, Mizoguchi Yuzo shuns Asia by linking each national modernity to the universal world without anything in between. Mizoguchi ironically inspired Baik Youngseo and Chen Kwang-hsing to resort to Asia again. Both cherish peripheral, sub-national narratives. Together, they are united in the quest for a deconstructed Asia that can overcome modernity's Western features.