ABSTRACT

Modernity, as a West originated idea, carries far more complex meanings for Asia than for Euro-American culture. Its evolvement in this part of the world has been closely intertwined with its history of colonisation, both by external and internal colonialists and in modes of political, cultural and economic colonialisms. As a result, the concept of ‘Asian modernity’ is intrinsically defined by a dynamics of dialectic dualism – national/individual identity quest, colonial/postcolonial power structure, modern/traditional polemics, globalisation/indigenisation impetus, among others. It is in fact the tension and negotiation within and between these dual structures that distinguish Asian modernity. I would argue that it is exactly this constant need to be in active interaction with its Western counterpart on the one hand and the incessant internal adjustments in response to historical conditions on the other that make Asian modernity a unique and vibrant phenomenon rather than a branch development of a Western original.