Annotated by
Narawan Kyo Pathomvat

Asia as Method: Toward Deimperialization


Chen Kuan-Hsing


Duke University Press



One of the perennial challenges for Asian scholars and practitioners particularly in the Social Sciences and Humanities is how to avoid being excessively dependent on Western theories, references and frameworks. In this book, Kuan-Hsing Chen proposes a ‘decolonization, deimperialisation and de-cold war’ of the old colonial framework. He formulates an Asia-centric and regional ‘inter-referencing’ as an alternative mapping methodology and points of reference in knowledge production in Asia. Chen himself cited numerous works by Asian scholars and writers, particularly Parta Chatterjee and Mizoguchi Yuzo (the book’s bibliography is a fine resource to discover Asian thinkers). Asia as Method has been an influential and contentious book that still invokes both praise and criticism in diverse disciplines. NKP

"The potential of Asia as method is this: using the idea of Asia as an imaginary anchoring point, societies in Asia can become each other’s points of reference, so that the understanding of the self may be transformed, and subjectivity rebuilt. On this basis, the diverse historical experiences and rich social practices of Asia may be mobilized to provide alternative horizons and perspectives. is method of engagement, I believe, has the potential to advance a different understanding of world history."