How does one comprehend the phenomenon of the modernization of an
Asian society in a globalized East Asian context? With this opening
question, the author proceeds to give an account of how the
modernization processes for postcolonial societies in Asia, such as
those of India, Malaysia, and Singapore, are fraught with
collaborations and conflicts between different socio-political,
historical, economic, and cultural agents. Such ambivalent dynamics
contribute to what Wee argues as a 'revealing distortion' of the
extant models of Western modernity, which is nonetheless rooted in
the politics of worldwide capitalism.
Wee's narrative refuses to accept the uncritical interpretation of
the modernizing processes in Asia as liberation from the hegemony
of Euro-American capitalism. But neither is Wee prepared to concede
that all cultural initiatives in the postcolonial societies are,
therefore, denied all power to devise alternative forms of
expression in the face of this haunting presence. It is the
persistent effort to see the many faces of modernization in Asia in
their full complexity that sets this study apart.
Readers will discover that what seems to be the modernization of a
single geopolitical entity is inevitably linked to the dynamics of
various agents in other locations at different times, which makes
us reflect on the existence of the many 'distortions' in our
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