Author: Rustom Bharucha
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN/UPC (if available): 0195682858
Set against a panoramic background to inter-Asian cultural politics, and drawing on the intersection of the late Meiji period in Japan and the Swadeshi movement in Bengal, this book elaborates on the ideals of Asia catalysed by the meeting of Rabindranath Tagore and the Japanese art historian and curator Okakura Tenshin in Calcutta in 1902.
Weaving through an intricate tapestry of ideas relating to pan-Asianism, nationalism, cosmopolitanism, and friendship, this intellectual history positions the early modernist tensions of the first decades of the twentieth century within-and against-the spectre of a unified Asia that concealed considerable political differences. In addition to countering the imperialist subtext of Okakura’s The Ideals of the East and The Awakening of the East against Tagore’s radical critique of Nationalism, it inflects the dominant tropes of postcolonial theory by highlighting the subtleties of beauty and the interstices of homosociality and love.
Spanning geographical boundaries, across the cities of Tokyo, Bostan, and Calcutta, the book offers new insights into the ways in which the Orient traveled within and beyond Asia, stimulated by emergent modes of vernacular cosmopolitanism. With striking originality, it illuminates the elective affinities of Tagore and Okakura within a steadily disintegrating universe of war and sectarian hatred. Indeed, could their friendship have survived the trials of globalization and the legacy of Hiroshima?
Blurring the narrative modes of fiction and history, this elegant study of Asia moves beyond the strictures of Area Studies to open formative questions around civilizational theory and the possibilities of cross-border cultural and human connectivity. It will be of particular interest to those readers pushing the discursive limits of cultural studies, inter-Asian cultural history, literary theory, performance studies, and globalization.
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