Introduction : colonial modernity and beyond in East Asian contexts
Date of Issue2012
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
This special issue examines colonial modernity in both historic and contemporary East Asia in order to illuminate the region's modern lives and sensibilities. The colonial modernity thesis, first articulated by Tani E. Barlow in Formations of Colonial Modernity in East Asia (1997), has been influential in explaining the construction of East Asian modernity and its development during the colonial periods. The rapid industrialization, urbanization, and capitalist expansion that characterize East Asia today make it imperative to revisit the traces of colonial modernity that are still evident there. To counter the premise that Asian modernity is static and coherent, this special issue illustrates not only the continuity of colonial modernity but also its ruptures since the early 1900s. The editors will present approaches that move beyond the dichotomist perspective that interprets Asia and Asian modernity only through comparisons with the West. Our goal is to reiterate the validity and significance of the colonial modernity thesis, using varied current perspectives, in a way that reveals the multiplicity of modernities in present-day East Asia.