Impacts of Modernities

(Traces 3)


Edited by Thomas Lamarre and Kang Nae-hui

ISBN : 978-962-209-645-5

Cultural Studies, Gender Studies Traces: A Multilingual Series of Cultural Theory and Translation

February 2004

304 pages, 6″ x 9″

  • HK$350.00

Also available in Paperback HK$175.00

Impacts of Modernities, the third volume of the Traces series, explores the problem of modernity, with an emphasis on the impact of Western modernity on East Asia. While the essays generally acknowledge modernity as a problem or even failure, in order to challenge modernization and modernization theory, the volume presents a number of different approaches to, and evaluations of, modernity in historical and contemporary frameworks.

One group of essays looks at the complex relations between modernity and production of space, place and identity. Contributors consider the spatializing tendencies of modernity, looking at how resistance to modernization has tended to rely on the production of national and local identities, which may serve to reproduce and reinforce the logic of modernization in new registers. Of particular importance is the legacy of comparativism in our contemporary disciplines. Other essays explore the historically specific relations that arise between nation, empire and representation. Contributors reconsider the alleged particularity of national languages and scripts, asking whether the insistence on the particular does not already entail an access to the universal and thus maybe to empire. Still other essays question whether the prime characteristics of modern power–subjection and sovereignty–continue to define power relations within the contemporary world order. To what extent is it now possible to think power formations and resistance beyond the modern, otherwise than modernity?

Contributors: Peter BUTTON, Kenneth DEAN, Michael GODDARD, Harry HAROOTUNIAN, HONG Seong-tae, KANG Nae-hui, Thomas LAMARRE, LAW Wing-sang, Ethan L. J. NASREDDIN-LONGO, Jon SOLOMON, SUN Ge, Atsuko UEDA

Thomas Lamarre is a professor of Japanese Literature at Cornell University. Kang Nae-hui is a professor of English at Chung-ang University.

Traces 3: Impacts of Modernities not only claims but practices trans-disciplinarity and trans-culturality: different disciplines and cultures are talking with one another (instead of talking to one another or even about the ‘other’). Reading this volume is becoming involved in the painful efforts of finding a new intellectual habitus in thinking about coeval yet unequal ‘modernities’ beyond abstract dichotomies like ‘East’ vs ‘West’, ‘traditional’ vs ‘modern’, etc.” —Professor Steffi Richter, Universität Leipzig, Japanese Studies, Germany

“Today, modernity is perceived as a failed attempt to deal with the re-entrenchment of religion in places as diverse as the White House and Afghanistan’s Tora Bora caves. The problem begins with the perception of modernity less as the preponderance of the Subject than the ‘disenchantment of the world’. Weber’s European experience of the nineteenth century seems not to notice modernity as an eschatological narrative; dominant secular faiths promoting the idea of progress, similar to some forms of religion, have always espoused the idea of the Subject that conquers whatever is other to it, including the body. Such vigilant super-ego insists that the pain and the wounds of today is a necessary sacrifice for future bliss—be it a classless society, a continuous growth, or a reunion with the divine. In other words, when we look into how different histories evolve, religion and modernity are not strange bedfellows as commonly believed. To invite different histories to speak out is Traces’ challenge.” —Goenawan Mohamad, author of Conversations with Difference