Bidisha Chaudhuri’s new book, that she has co-edited with Lion Koenig, looks at the ‘Politics of the ‘Other’ in India and China: Western Concepts in Non-Western Contexts”.
The social sciences have been heavily influenced by modernization theory, focusing on issues of economic growth, political development and social change, in order to develop a predictive model of linear progress for developing countries following a Western prototype. Under this hegemonic paradigm of development the world tends to get divided into simplistic binary oppositions between the ‘West’ and the ‘rest’, ‘us’ and ‘them’ and ‘self’ and ‘other’.
Proposing to shift the discussion on what constitutes the ‘Other’ as opposed to the ‘Self’ from philosophy and cultural studies to the social sciences, this book explores how the structural asymmetries existing between Western discourses and the realities of the non-Western world manifest themselves in the ideas, institutions and socio-political practices of India and China, and in how far they shape the social scientist’s understanding of their discipline in general. It provides a counter-narrative by revealing the relativity of geographies, and by showing that the conventional presentation of core elements of the Asian socio-political set-up as ‘aberrations’ from the Western models fails to acknowledge their inherent strategic character of adapting Western concepts to meet local requirements.
Drawing on multiple disciplines, concepts and contexts in India and China, the book makes a valuable contribution to the theory and practice of politics, as well as to International and Asian Studies.