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Modernism: The Creation of Nation-States

 | 
Ahmet Ersoy
, 
Maciej Górny
, 
Vangelis Kechriotis

Introduction

Modernism

Maria Todorova

Texte intégral

1Like culture and civilization, imperialism and orientalism, or nations and nationalism, modernity and modernism are concepts that suffer from overuse. Some scholars despair about the impossibility to reach a consensus about their meaning and use, and call on entirely abandoning them. Yet, they are with us to stay, among others because they have long ago left specialized scholarly discussion (or entered it too late) to become part of the everyday speech of many competing discourses. This volume, the third in a series covering the cultures of the coveted, emerging, flourishing and humiliated nation-states of the region of Central and Southeast Europe from the eighteenth to the twentieth century, boldly takes on the challenge.

2Writing this introduction entails a double bind. On the one hand, I was asked and agreed to provide a preface to a volume I did not help conceive. In a way, the resulting introduction is not merely a comment on the material compiled by several younger scholars and respected colleagues; it is inevitably an exegesis of its conceptualization. On the other hand, given the voluminous and controversial literature around the concept of modernism and its derivatives, this preface tentatively tries to provide some similitude of order, if only for the easier orientation though the ensuing material. Several questions will be asked in the course of this chapter: What is the difference between modernity, modernism and modernization? When and where was/is modernity, and when and where was/is modernism? Is it modernity or modernities? What is the comparative value of scrutinizing a particular region?

  • 1 Henri Lefebvre, Introduction a la modernité (Paris, 1962), p. 10, cited in Alexis Nouss, La modern (...)

3Why, then, is this volume encompassed under the rubric of modernism and not of modernity? Modernism may be the least problematic term, even if slightly differing interpretations exist. Henri Lefebvre distinguishes between the two by positing that modernism is a sociological and ideological fact, the consciousness that epochs, periods, successive generations have of themselves; it consists of images and projections of the self. Modernity, on the other hand, is the attempt at knowledge, the beginning of reflexion. “Modernity differs from modernism, as a concept formed about society differs from social phenomena, as reflexion differs from facts.”1 This is, arguably, one of the more sophisticated approaches to modernity and modernism, treating the two as different but intertwined takes on reality mediated by the human agent.

  • 2 Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity, The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junio (...)

4Most other authors consider modernism as the cultural response to the challenges of the modern condition, defined loosely as the compendium of traits such as industrialization, urbanization, and the emergence of a market-industrial economy; the growth of centralizing and unifying state institutions with the accompanying development of specialized occupations tied to them, i.e. bureaucratization; the development of the modern political party system with mass participation, the secularization of political and social authority and different models of popular rule. Modernism in this view, as expressed for example by Anthony Giddens, who insists on its difference from modernity, is often seen mostly in its aesthetic dimension, and applied to styles or trends in literature, painting, sculpture, architecture, and music.2

  • 3 Matei Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism (...)
  • 4 Timothy Mitchell, Questions of Modernity (Minneapolis, London, 2000), p. 6. In this Mitchell follo (...)

5In a broader handling, modernism is seen as the state of mind expressed in opposition to tradition, or as the culture of modernity. In a narrower sense, it is treated as the aesthetic and negative reaction to technological modernity (in this sense conflating modernity with modernization)3. An interesting twist in the thinking about modernism is offered by the view that while modernity was born in the West (even if authors differ on whether it is a universal or an entirely western phenomenon), modernism was the product of the periphery. If “modernity” as a term seems to have been created by Chateaubriand in 1833, “modernism” was coined by a Nicaraguan poet in 1890: “the critique of European modernity, like so much of the modern itself, seems continually to have emerged from Europe’s borders.”4 Some authors even posit that modernism is not in the core, but always in the periphery, and they speak of the modernism of underdevelopment, where culture is one form through which one can belong if one is excluded from modernity. This certainly is very relevant to Eastern Europe, the first and closest periphery to the core of modernity.

6In a way, the whole four-volume project is an illustration of the particular cultural and political responses—defined by the editors as enlightenment, romanticism, modernism and anti-modernism—to the social transformations that occurred with the advent of modernity. Of course, one could claim that modernism in a very broad sense encompasses all these responses: it is the general expression and style of the modern times, the state of mind expressed in opposition to tradition, or the culture of modernity. From this point of view, since the general consensus is that modernity starts with the Enlightenment and, despite all the theorizing about post-modernism, we still seem to be within its longue durée, it includes chronologically the whole period covered by the project. The editors have chosen to use it in a stricter sense, giving it a very definite place between romanticism and anti-modernism and an approximate chronological span from the 1860s until the decade following the First World War. For them the answer to the question “When was modernism?” is unambiguous. One could say that it coincides with the period of the powerful and unimpeded ascendancy of industrialism and the nation-state, and one can read in its expressions the unabashed triumphalism of the notion of progress. Indeed, practically all parts of this volume illustrate one or another aspect of the ambitious and optimistic construction and consolidation of the nation-state: the major ideologies that shaped this process, the projects and programs dealing with institution building and the challenges posed by imperial legacies and minority problems, and the reflexion of these processes in the sciences and the arts.

  • 5 Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity; Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (Boston, 1964) (fir (...)

7This poses the question whether modernity is synonymous with capitalism. It is a question overwhelmingly answered in the positive by theorists of modernity, from Karl Polanyi to Anthony Giddens. For Polanyi the defining characteristic of modern society is the self-regulating market, which as an institutional structure is typical only for our times. It is the extension of commodification to the three basic elements of industry—labor, land, and money—which was the inevitable consequence of the introduction of the factory system in a commercial society and which constituted the crucial difference from preceding economic systems. Giddens sees modernity as modes of organization of social life which emerged in Europe from about the seventeenth century onwards and which subsequently became more or less worldwide in their influence. He thus defines modernity as inherently characterized by globalization, whose main traits are the international division of labor, the global capitalist economy, the system of nation-states, and the global military order,5 This stress on the economic aspects of modern society inevitably raises the question of modernization and its place in the overall theorizing of modernity.

  • 6 Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, “On Alternative Modernities,” in Dilip Paramesh-war Gaonkar, ed., Alter (...)

8More recent theorizing emphasizes the Janus-like character of modernity in the west which is characterized by two intersecting visions of modernity: the Weberian societal/cultural modernity and the Baudelairian cultural/aesthetic modernity, where culture is the capricious and imperceptible “middle term.” In the Weberian vision, societal modernization fragments cultural meaning and unity. The Baudelairian vision, equally alert to the effects of modernization, seeks to redeem modern culture by aestheticizing it. Each has their bright and dark sides. Societal modernization was anticipated by Enlightenment philosophers as the improvement of material conditions, economic prosperity and political emancipation, technological mastery, and the general growth of specialized knowledge, but it also brought the existential experience of alienation and despair in a disenchanted world of deadening and meaningless routine. The bright side of the Baudelairian vision found aesthetic pleasure in the creative excitement of searching for a meaning, and portrayed modernization as a spectacle of speed, novelty, and effervescence. Its dark side stressed the absence of moral constraints where the aesthetic pursuit could deteriorate from disciplined Nietzschean self-assertion against an absurd world into self-absorption and hedonism6.

  • 7 Valade, op. cit, p. 9939.
  • 8 Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (London, 1993). Since division entails a prior assumption (...)

9Modernity may not be explicitly addressed in this volume but it is implicitly present in its overall conception both as a sociological reality, i.e. the ensemble of traits defining the modern condition, as well as a discursive construct. There have been numerous attempts to define modernity, even though one of its analysts desists from treating it as a concept: “If it is true that a notion is intuitive knowledge, synthetic and inaccurate enough about one thing, then modernity belongs to this type of mental representation which, as opposed to concept, does not offer clearly defined contours of the abstract object to which it refers.”7 We know intuitively that modern is what appears, exists and belongs to the present era, and modernism expresses a preference against tradition. Even before the emergence of modernity as a category, the understanding about what was modern was based on a dichotomy between “ancients” and “moderns” (the famous querelle des anciens et des modernes at the end of the seventeenth century), between authority and progress, between tradition and innovation. Indeed, Bruno Latour argues that the division of tradition from modernity is the central characteristic of the modernist project, where division and classification entail the work of purification.8

  • 9 Jon P. Mitchell, Ambivalent Europeans: Ritual, Memory and the Public Sphere in Malta, (London and (...)
  • 10 Диaha Mиihkoba, IIpucnocoбя℮ahe Ha ceoбo∂ama: мo∂epHocm – πesumuм-hocm e Cъpбuя u pymbhuя npeз XIX (...)

10Jon Mitchell goes as far as attributing this tendency to dichotomize to a common Euro-American epistemology which divides the world into ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’, or Western and non-Western, and ultimately into ‘us’ and ‘them.’ Following Niklas Luhmann, he shows that, rather than being a homogenizing process producing a unified social whole, modernity constantly creates otherness; it is not a fixed and stable, but has differentiation at its core. He also amply demonstrates that ambivalence is common to all manifestations of modernity. In particular, the hierarchizing axis of tradition and modernity can be reversible, so that each side can be valorized at different moments. This ambivalence and anxiety is especially acute at the edges of Europe, where the stakes are higher.9 Similarly, stressing the ambivalence between what is modern and what traditional, Diana Mishkova shows that the distinction between nineteenth-century modernizers in Serbia and Romania (the radicals and the liberals) and traditionalists (the conservatives) is not so sharp. In actuality, all used the modern legitimizing norms and rhetoric; all had an organicist conception of the nation; all had a paternalistic attitude to the peasant, both economically and politically; all had the consciousness of backwardness; and all were ardent nationalists.10 One can follow this in many of the entries in this volume.

  • 11 The quintessence of this trend is Walt Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: a Non-Communist Mani (...)
  • 12 Peter Wagner, “Modernity: History of the Concept,” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Beha (...)

11Despite nuances of difference, the common denominator of most theories that analyze the modern era, i.e. modernity, is to describe the process of capitalist expansion, development and globalization through which the non-Western becomes Western. This is based on the presumption that increased globalization of the world economy necessarily entails the homogenization of socio-cultural forms. This trend was most explicitly present in the modernization theories of 1950s–60s, where the successful accomplishment of industrialization and democratization were seen as the apogee of modernization.11 The severe critique to which modernization theory was subjected in the late 1970s and 1980s led to a broader critical theorization of capitalism. It prompted its theoretical reconceptualization with the emergence and introduction of a new category: modernity. Modernity was taken by the social sciences to unite, or mediate, modernization and capitalism, and define and describe the properties of the modern, “present social configuration.” It thus came to define a way of life or mode of being, raising the question whether people who don’t live this way are modern or not.12

  • 13 Nikos Mouzelis, “Modernity: a non-European conceptualization,” British Journal of Sociology, vol. (...)

12Chronologically, the consensus that modernity started in Western Europe after the seventeenth century (in a few readings even earlier) has not been broken; its link to capitalism has not been questioned. Yet the stress is no longer exclusively on its economic performance. Sociologists are emphasizing the unparalleled degree of structural-functional differentiation in modern societies, especially the infrastructural powers of the nation-state. Building on Talcott Parsons, Jürgen Habermas and Niklas Luhmann, Nikos Mouzelis understands modernity as “a type of social organization which, from a social-integration point of view, is characterized by an unprecedented level of social mobilization/incorporation into the center; and from the point of view of system integration, by an equally unprecedented level of institutional differentiation.”13 This leads to the destruction of segmented localism and the creation of broader, highly differentiated economic, political, social, and cultural arenas where the practices of individuated subjects are constituted and regulated by institutional complexes such as the nation-state, national markets and/or national planning agencies, national systems of welfare and population surveillance/management, mass literacy and nationalist ideologies.

  • 14 Zygmunt Bauman & Keith Tester, Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman (Cambridge, 2001), p. 78.
  • 15 Ibid., p. 74.

13Similarly, but with a stronger emphasis on mentalité, Zygmunt Bauman locates the defining feature of modernity in its concern with order, not so much industrialism or capitalism, because “the preoccupation with orderly, manageable society, is a common denominator of other modern undertakings [...] to make human affairs regular and amenable to planning and control was high up in the mind of the principle advocates and actors of industrialism, democracy, and capitalism.”14 For Bauman modernity and the awareness of the artificiality of social order are synonymical, and the characteristically modern obsession with ordering is the outcome of that awareness. As he points out, “from its inception, ‘modernity’ was known in one form only: that of ‘managerial’ modernity, an order-designing and order-administering modernity.”15

  • 16 Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge, Mass, 2000), p. 110 and 112.

14Bauman is also the one who unequivocally links modernity not merely to capitalism but specifically to imperialism in the era of the nation-state. This comes with a new perception of time; indeed, Bauman postulates that “the history of time began with modernity,” modernity being “more than anything else, the history of time: modernity is the time when time has a history.” Modernity emancipated time from space because, unlike space, time could be changed and manipulated through technical innovation. “Whoever traveled faster could claim more territory—and, having done that, could control it, map it and supervise it... Modernity was born under the stars of acceleration and land conquest.”16

  • 17 Peter Osborne, Philosophy in Cultural Theory (London, 2000), pp. 59 and 61.

15Peter Osborne provides another analysis of the explicit link and hierarchical relationship between modernity and nationalism. According to him, the problem is “not how to rethink the notion of modernism from the standpoint of national cultures (modernism as national allegory, for example). It is, rather, how the problematic of the modern, concretely applied, can help replace the problematic of ‘national cultures’, with a broader conception of the temporal-cultural dimensions of social relations—social relations through which ‘the nation’ is itself produced as a cultural-ideological effect of various forms of state power.” Applying his very broad understanding of modernism as “a particular temporal logic of negation (the new)” together with the metaphor and theory of translation, Osborne succeeds in dissolving the discreteness of separate nationalisms and their cultures.17 We see them floating, with their ships of different size and shape, and colorful crews, which are often in conflict or fleeting alliances, in the common sea of modernity.

  • 18 Josep R. Llobera, The God of Modernity: The Development of Nationalism in Western Europe (Oxford, (...)

16Thus the nation-state comes to the fore as the prototypical institutional embodiment of political modernity, nationalism in the apt expression of Jo-sep Llobera is its god, and “the nation, as a culturally defined community, is the highest symbolic value of modernity; it has been endowed with a quasi-sacred character equaled only by religion.”18 Even a cursory look at the present volume will bear this out. From the different ideological approaches dealing with the imperial heritage and finessing projects of how to create the modern state—liberal, conservative, socialist and others—to the literary and scientific attempts at squaring the circle of individual and collective identities, the obsession with the nation, its territory and the institutions that would serve it best is obvious. It is a well-known fact that this period saw the gradual crumbling of the three empires that between themselves controlled much of what is designated as Central and Southeast Europe, or altogether Eastern Europe: the Habsburg, Ottoman and Romanov Empires. In the course of less than a century, a multitude of small to medium-sized nation-states appeared in the east of Europe, beginning in the Balkans: Greece (independence 1830), Serbia (autonomy 1830, independence 1878), Montenegro (independence 1878), Romania (unification 1859, independence 1878), Bulgaria (autonomy 1878, independence 1908), Albania (independence 1913), Hungary (Ausgleich 1867, independence 1918), Poland (independence 1918), Czechoslovakia (independence 1918), Lithuania (independence 1918), Latvia (independence 1918), Estonia (independence 1918), and finally, the two par excellence successor states Austria (1918), Turkey (1923). Russia alone preserved the similitude of empire (some would argue its essence) with the creation of the Soviet Union (1922).

  • 19 Wofgang Höpken, “Zentralstaat und kommunale Sebstverwaltung in Bulgarien 1880–1910. Zur Anatomie e (...)
  • 20 An apt illustration is Brian A. Porter, When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics (...)

17For Eastern Europe the nation-state proved to be the central of the pillars of stability. It was the nation-state that was to provide and guarantee all other aspects of modern social life: industrialization, universal education, political rights, etc. In all of the countries of Central and Southeast Europe, and arguably more so in the societies of the southeast that had embarked somewhat earlier on the road to national independence, nation building was linked to the victory of the centralizing state over traditional forms of decentralized communal self-rule. This, in the end, produced everywhere powerful antagonisms between the state and society, between the city and the countryside, between the peasants and the bureaucracy.19 Yet, at the beginning, before the achievement of sovereign statehood, the advent of mass society together with the spread of the ideals of social justice and equality were mostly subordinated to the idea of equality between nations. This powerful idea was channeled into equally powerful movements aimed at reform, different types of adjustment of ethnic minorities within the old imperial frameworks, most remarkable among them the different visions of federative arrangements, and ultimately independent nation-states. The vindication of the nation-state came with a price everywhere in Europe, not only in the east, and gradually transformed the liberal and altogether inclusive character of the early to mid-nineteenth-century national doctrines by way of the conservative, exclusivist, and irredentist policies of the new political elites.20

  • 21 K.-D. Grothusen, “Modernisierung und Nationsbildung. Modelltheoretische Überlegungen und ihre Anwe (...)
  • 22 Gale Stokes, Politics as Development: The Emergence of Political Parties in Nineteenth-Century Ser (...)

18What has held as a common verdict about the whole area (with the exception of the Czech territories and several other local pockets) was the overall insufficient development of capitalism (more flagrant the further one moved to the east), something that produced an East European specificity, namely the growth of the nation-state without sufficient industrialization and urbanization, the “lack of chronological correspondence between the two processes—first, creation of nation and nation-state; only after that, modernization as an economic and social process.”21 This has prompted one author to speak aptly about “politics as development” and another to posit that “modernity had its full impact in Central and Eastern Europe after 1920.”22

19As already pointed out, the state was seen as a pioneering agent of industrialization and economic nationalism (protectionism), it was everywhere the predominant actor of modernity. Everywhere, even though seriously lagging behind the economic development of Western Europe, the half century leading to the First World War saw remarkable levels of economic resurgence, the flourishing of light industries, the beneficial effect on industries from high state expenditure on railway construction, the European arms’ race, the development of technologies, industrial concentration, protectionism and cartelization. Everywhere, modernization was seen as the prime instrument to close the temporal and spatial lag vis-a-vis the west, and everywhere the often debilitating consciousness of this gap was the primary motor of activity.

  • 23 Ian Kershaw and Moshe Levin, Stalinism and Nazism. Dictatorships in Comparison (Cambridge, 1997), (...)
  • 24 Sibel Bozdoğan and Reşat Kasaba, Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey (Seattle & L (...)

20It has to be added in parenthesis that probably because of this, modernization as a concept has had a much more favourable fate in Eastern Europe and was never entirely purged from its vocabulary. Modernization was always seen as the most potent catching-up device, “the process of long-term change that transforms a society resting on agriculture and its related political and social structures into an industrial society based on technological advancement, secularized culture, bureaucratic administration, and extensive (however shallow) forms of political participation.”23 Writing about Turkey, Sibel Bozdoğan and Reşat Kasaba welcome the emphasis on cultural identity, difference, and diversity over the homogenization and universalist claims and aspirations of modernization. Yet, they also point out the need to reclaim the universal and liberating potential of modernization as a world-historical liberating process that made it possible for people to pursue their individual interests while forming meaningful collectivities. “Just as we need to distinguish between modernity as a potentially liberating historical condition and its instrumentalization for a political project of domination, we also need to distinguish between the democratic implications of the recent post-modern critique, on the one hand, and its self-closure into a new form of orthodoxy.”24

  • 25 Reinhart Koselleck, Zeitschichten: Studien zur Historik (Frankfurt am Main, 2000), pp. 359–380.
  • 26 Joseph L. Love evokes the names of Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, Ragnar Nurske, Kurt Martin, Hans Singer, (...)
  • 27 See the important collective volume of Daniel Chirot, ed., The Origins of Backwardness in Eastern (...)
  • 28 Jenő Szűcs, “Three Historical Regions of Europe,” in John Keane, ed., Civil Society and the State: (...)

21All this raises two additional issues with extraordinary relevance for Eastern Europe: the notion and manifestations of backwardness, and the concept of alternative or multiple modernities. The sense of lag and lack, analytically subsumed in the notion of backwardness, has been a dominant trope not only in East European or, more broadly, in non-European perceptions. For long decades, it had been painfully present in German self-perceptions.25 It continues to be present in Spanish and Italian discourses, although no longer with the painful overtones. In the East European context, more so than in other non-western contexts, the literature on backwardness is dominated by economic historians and political scientists. In fact, some authors have argued that the subdiscipline of economic development was created in the 1940s mostly by East Europeans who employed the cases of Eastern Europe as their original empirical base.26 If cultural aspects are discussed, it is only by way of weighing cultural traditions as impediments or promoters of development. Questions like “Why did the Industrial Revolution take place in the West?” and “What causes economic growth?” are the ones that frame the discussion and while there are different explanatory systems—the dominant among them Marxism, even when unacknowledged; world systems theory, especially center-periphery relations; modernization theory; geographic determinism; and cultural determinism (in this order)—there is an overall consensus that Eastern Europe has been lagging economically at least since the sixteenth—seventeenth centuries and maybe as far back as the eleven-twelfth centuries, but in any case long before it was absorbed into the wider western world market.27 As far as the explanations for this economic backwardness go, the consensus, if any, is far more brittle. These explanations range from social-structural ones of a historical longue durée (Jenő Szűcs) to reversing the premises of the debate: it is rapid growth rather than a tendency to stagnation that is exceptional, and Eastern Europe, from this point of view, is normalized with the rest of the world where western Europe is seen as the exception that ought to be explained.28

  • 29 Maria Todorova, “The trap of backwardness: modernity, temporality and the study of Eastern Europea (...)

22Addressing the issue as “the trap of backwardness,” I suggested elsewhere that it should be approached through the concept of relative synchronicity within a longue durée framework, a perspective that circumvents the trap of origins, which carries backwardness as its corollary.29 While I focused mostly on the discourse of backwardness in a cultural milieu, especially the conceptualization of comparative nationalisms, the model can be applied more broadly. After all, industrialization faces a similar challenge as nationalism. Not only did it take place over the course of several centuries over Europe, even in its core space, England, it took several centuries for its accomplishment and penetration into different areas of the country and into different branches of the industry (the eighteenth and nineteenth, or, according to a different interpretation, the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries). Surely, the mechanisms of the process and the social price at different junctures of this development were different (with pioneers and laggards in each case) but still nobody questions the epistemological adequacy of describing them within the same overall process (and the respective category). Moreover, at the end of the day, when in particular places the process has reached some completion, and is considered successful or acceptable, no one is interested in the original and the possible deviations thereof.

23The reformulation I proposed is not undertaken for the sake of political correctness or diplomacy, but in order to make a methodological point. While the description that favors a distinct primary place and the transmission of the original pattern presupposes distinct geographic and historical spaces, usually clustered around the separate nation-states that were the habitus of modernity, the other involves Eastern Europe in a common long-term process. It, thus, redefines the region as part of a common space (European or global) which evolves, and one of whose characteristics is the homogenization (or, rather, imagined homogenization) of polities. It also allows us to deconstruct the category ”Vest” and transform it from a model-like entity into a dynamic one which itself underwent the process unevenly and over a long period of time. Thus the notion of relative synchronicity within the longue durée of modernity, even as it does not exclude the existence of asynchronic developments, allows us to describe them not simply in terms of linear consecutive phenomena, diffusion and one-way transmissions, but also, in some aspects, as a process that emphasizes its dialogical nature.

  • 30 Timothy Mitchell, Questions of Modernity, p. 15.

24For example, much of the romantic passion of George Byron and Alexander Pushkin cannot be understood outside the influence of Greek nationalism; the Polish partitions and the ensuing mobilization of Polish nationalism created waves that inspired a variety of responses, from philosophers beginning with Rousseau to the crystallization of a specific Russophobia in nineteenth-century Europe that goes a long way in explaining subsequent European international relations; the German preoccupations with folklore cannot be understood without the Serb connection, nor the introduction of the moral principle (although not necessarily morality) in British Gladstonian politics without the impetus of Bulgarian nationalism and the retaliation it invoked. In a larger context, Timothy Mitchell insists that putting empire back into the history of Europe enables the reversal of the narrative of modernization so as to see the West as the product of modernity.30

  • 31 Vasso Argyriou, “Tradition, Modernity and European Hegemony in the Mediterranean,” Journal of Medi (...)
  • 32 Gregory Jusdanis, Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature (Minneapo (...)

25Still, no matter how we deal with this problematique today (and the materials in the volume abundantly bear out such an approach), it is a fact that in the time period covered by the readings (and, arguably, until the present if not in such dire degree), politicians and intellectuals in Eastern Europe had deeply internalized the sense of lack and lag, which either paralyzed them or prompted a volley of hectic reformist activities. In the Greek case, and this can be extended easily to the others, “Greek culture became ‘traditional’ only when it began to view itself as an inferior past living in the present—the European present. At that point, it emerged as a problem to be dealt with. It became something either to be rejected, which is to say, modernized, or to be re-invented, re-interpreted, re-valued and used, after the European fashion, as a defense against the modern.”31 As Gregory Jusdanis puts it: “Belated modernization, especially in nonwestern societies necessarily remains ‘incomplete’ not because it deviates from the supposedly correct path but because it cannot culminate in a faithful duplication of western prototypes.” Favoring the concept of “many modernities,” he therefore concludes that peripheral societies “internalize the incongruity between western originals and local realities as a structural deficiency.”32

  • 33 Dipesh Chakrabarty, Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (Chicago, 20 (...)
  • 34 On alternative modernities, see: M. Featherstone, S. Lash and R. Roberton, Global Modernities (Lon (...)

26Yet how we deal with it today is more than relevant. After all it is “the problem of how to write of forms of modernity that deviate from the canonical understanding of the term.”33 Some still insist on the necessity of an ideal-typical form, usually equated with and distilled from West European examples. Others speak of alternative, multiple or plural modernities. Still others deny modernity’s heuristic value by arguing that everything in the world is by definition modern, alternatively or not. The counter-stream to the homogenization theory of modernity is a fairly recent phenomenon of the last little over a decade, and focuses on the heterogeneity of global modernity. Arguing that the modern was produced not within Europe alone, it pluralizes modernity and explores “alternative modernities” or “multiple capitalisms,” stressing local, regional and global forces that shape particular histories of capitalist modernity.34

  • 35 Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, “Some Observations on Multiple Modernities,” in Dominic Sachsenmaier and Jen (...)

27Much of this was generalized and theorized by Shmuel N. Eisenstadt in a series of important works. Following Weber, Eisenstadt understands the core of modernity as the deconstruction of the God-ordained worldview of all axial civilizations. Since modern societies are no longer embedded in transcendental orders, they are open to continuous transformation and adaptation. For Eisenstadt, modernity is characterized by open political arenas and changing collective identities, autonomy of man in relation to authority, and multiplicity of competing visions of the public good. Traditions, instead of being dissolved by modernity, serve as its sources for perpetual constitution and re-constitution. Eisenstadt posited that the cultural and political program of modernity was first developed in Western and Central Europe when significant shifts occurred in the conception of human agency which allowed the conception of a future characterized by possibilities realizable through autonomous human agency. At the same time, various cultures undergoing modernization develop distinctive reaction patterns, institutions and ethical conceptions. There is, in this sense, a continual reinterpretation of the cultural program of modernity and, thus, the construction of multiple modernities, attempts by various groups and movements to reappropriate and redefine the discourse of modernity in their own terms. Moreover, the forms of modernity that developed in North and Latin America are not fragments of the Old World, but crystallizations of new civilizations. All these civilizations share the central structural and ideational cores of modernity.35

  • 36 Stacy Pigg has argued against the concept of the modern as universal, proposing instead to attribu (...)
  • 37 Jon P. Mitchell, Ambivalent Europeans, p. 13.
  • 38 Peter Van der Veer, “The Global History of ‘Modernity’, “Journal of the Economic and Social Histor (...)

28While rightly arguing against the dangers of a Eurocentric paradigm, in which European history is sold as universal history, the now fashionable notions of alternative or multiple modernities come with their own liabilities, chief among them a possible slip into easy pluralism and cultural relativism.36 “The pluralizing of modernity appears to absolve analysts of the essentializing tendency inherent in a monolithic concept of modernity, yet it can risk reproducing it, in the same way the simplistic cultural relativism risks reifying difference whilst attempting to understand it.”37 Van der Veer in particular has been critical of the pluralizing move, maintaining that modernity should be seen as a singular phenomenon. He argues against using the term for a historical or social epoch, but for a political project linked to the development of the nation-state. The multiplicity of modernity, according to him, lies not in a plurality of modernities, but consists of a plurality of histories of the singular modernity, in which the emergence of the nation-state has differed.”38

  • 39 Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, “On Alternative Modernities,” in: op.cit., pp. 14
  • 40 Jon P. Mitchell, Ambivalent Europeans, pp. 241.
  • 41 James Ferguson, “Decomposing Modernity: History and Hierarchy after Development,” in Ania Loomba, (...)

29Most sophisticated theorists, no matter what the preference, tend to reach some kind of a consensus. Dilip Gaonkar, who thinks in terms of alternative modernities, insists that it is impossible to abandon the western discourse on modernity. Modernity has traveled from the West to the rest of the world not only in term of cultural forms, social practices, and institutional arrangements, but also as a form of discourse that interrogates the present. Therefore, even if expressed in vernacular or cosmopolitan idioms, the legacy of the western discourse is inescapable. Wherever one is, one must think with and against the tradition and reflections from Marx to Weber through Baudelaire and Benjamin to Habermas and Foucault.39 Jon Mitchell, following Van der Veer, builds his analysis on the premise that modernity is a singular process but one with different historical trajectories at different times and places.40 And James Ferguson who is altogether critical of the notion of alternative modernities, speaks of two types of modernity: a cultural modernity, where the idea of alternative modernities may be fecund, and an economic modernity, where it might be better to think in a more linear way.41

  • 42 Timothy Mitchell, “The Stage of Modernity,” op.cit., p. 24.

30Finally, Timothy Mitchell contests both singular modernity and the easy pluralism of alternative modernities: “It is not that there are many different modernities, any more than there are many different capitalisms. Modernity, like capitalism, is defined by its claim to universality, to a uniqueness, unity, and universality that represents the end (in every sense) of history. Yet this always remains an impossible unity, an incomplete universal. Each staging of the modern must be arranged to produce the unified, global history of modernity, yet each requires those forms of difference that introduce the possibility of a discrepancy, that return to undermine its unity and identity. Modernity thus becomes the unsuitable yet unavoidable name for all these discrepant histories.”42

31Without imposing or even suggesting an explicit preference, this volume offers ample material to explore some of these options. Do we approach Eastern Europe as part of a universal, if not entirely homogenizing and singular modernity? Is it the case that it can be better explained in terms of an alternative modernity or even multiple modernities? The richness and variety of texts, and the privileging of the thematic approach convincingly gesture in the direction of a successful transcendence of national boundaries which has been the organizing principle in the majority of regional surveys. Here, we can see the agents of modernity breathing the same air, thinking the same thoughts, even if they do not always converse with each other. True, the very fact that the comparative potential of the material is confined within the East European region comes with its own caveats. The East-West duality can be broken only by setting a general European or global framework, in which the East European presence is organically interwoven or “entangled” as the discursive fashion would have it today. Setting the East European experience apart risks inadvertently reifying it into a discrete phenomenon. Yet this in no way is a deficiency of the volume’s conceptualization. It has to bear the burden of the existing state of historiographical accumulation and achievement, but it does so admirably. In the end, the appreciation of the universal choir can come only after one hears and learns to appreciate the distinct and original voices of the region’s soloists.

Notes

1 Henri Lefebvre, Introduction a la modernité (Paris, 1962), p. 10, cited in Alexis Nouss, La modernité (Paris, 1991), p. 21.

2 Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity, The Board of Trustees of the Leland Stanford Junior University, 1990; Charles Taylor, “Nationalism and Modernity” in Beiner, Ronald, ed., Theorizing Nationalism (Albany NY, 1999); Eugene Lunn, Marxism and Modernism: An Historical Study of Lukács, Brecht, Benjamin, and Adomo (Berkeley, 1982); Jonathan Spencer, “Modernism, Modernity and Modernisation,” in Alan Barnard and Jonathan Spencer ed. Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology (London, 1996). It is symptomatic that, as a whole, “modernism” rarely finds a place in social sciences, which abound in theories about modernity and modernization, but its relatively prominent place in the humanities is assured. There is no entry on “modernism” in the International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences.

3 Matei Calinescu, Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism (Durham, 1987), actually speaks of “two distinct and bitterly conflicting modernities,” one as a stage in the history of Western civilization (scientific and technological progress, industrial revolution, the sweeping economic and social changes of capitalism); the other, as an aesthetic concept opposed to the first (p. 41).

4 Timothy Mitchell, Questions of Modernity (Minneapolis, London, 2000), p. 6. In this Mitchell follows Perry Anderson. See also B. Valade, “Modernity,” in Neil J. Smelser, Paul B. Baltes ed. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences (Amsterdam, New York, 2001), p. 9940.

5 Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity; Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (Boston, 1964) (first published in 1944), pp. 43–57, 68–75, 163.

6 Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, “On Alternative Modernities,” in Dilip Paramesh-war Gaonkar, ed., Alternative Modernities (Durham, 2001), pp. 8–9.

7 Valade, op. cit, p. 9939.

8 Bruno Latour, We Have Never Been Modern (London, 1993). Since division entails a prior assumption of unity—each proposition of difference must begin with an assumption of sameness—dividing the world into traditional and modern must begin with the assumption of a shared historical trajectory. This, in the end, makes Latour question the utility of the concept “modern.”

9 Jon P. Mitchell, Ambivalent Europeans: Ritual, Memory and the Public Sphere in Malta, (London and New York, 2002), pp. 12 and 241–242. For example, accession to EU in Malta is seen as both promise (security, affluence, democracy, modernity) and threat (to family, morality, community, tradition). See also Niklas Luhmann, Observations on Modernity, transl. W. Whobrey (Stanford CA, 1998).

10 Диaha Mиihkoba, IIpucnocoбя℮ahe Ha ceoбo∂ama: мo∂epHocm – πesumuм-hocm e Cъpбuя u pymbhuя npeз XIX eeĸ (CoФия, 2001).

11 The quintessence of this trend is Walt Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: a Non-Communist Manifesto (Cambridge 1960); See also N. Smelser, “Mechanisms of and Adjustments to Change,” in T. Burns ed., Industrial Man (Hariri ondsworth, 1969); Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Modemisierungstheorie und Geschichte (Goettingen, 1975); Paul Nolte, “Modernization and Modernity in History,” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, p. 9954–9961.

12 Peter Wagner, “Modernity: History of the Concept,” International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 9949–9954; Peter Wagner, “Modernity, Capitalism and Critique,” Thesis Eleven, 66, 2001, pp. 1–31; Peter Wagner, A Sociology of Modernity: Liberty and Discipline (London, 1994); Peter Wagner, Theorizing Modernity. Inescapability and Attainability in Social Theory (London, 2001); Anthony Giddens, The Consequences of Modernity (Cambridge, 1990); Anthony Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age (Cambridge, 1991); Jürgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Cambridge, Mass., 1987); Daniel Miller, Modernity: An Ethnographic Approach (Oxford, 1994); Jonathan Spencer, “Modernism, Modernity and Modernisation,” in Alan Barnard and Jonathan Spencer ed., Encyclopedia of Social and Cultural Anthropology (London, 1996).

13 Nikos Mouzelis, “Modernity: a non-European conceptualization,” British Journal of Sociology, vol. 50, No.1, March 1999, pp. 143–144 and 156–157.

14 Zygmunt Bauman & Keith Tester, Conversations with Zygmunt Bauman (Cambridge, 2001), p. 78.

15 Ibid., p. 74.

16 Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Modernity (Cambridge, Mass, 2000), p. 110 and 112.

17 Peter Osborne, Philosophy in Cultural Theory (London, 2000), pp. 59 and 61.

18 Josep R. Llobera, The God of Modernity: The Development of Nationalism in Western Europe (Oxford, 1994), p. ix.

19 Wofgang Höpken, “Zentralstaat und kommunale Sebstverwaltung in Bulgarien 1880–1910. Zur Anatomie eines Modernisierungskonfliktes,” in: Zwetana Todorova, ed. Probleme der Modernisierung im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Sofia, 1994), pp. 24–39; H.-M. Böstfleisch, Modernisierungsprobleme und Entwicklungskrisen: Die Auseinandersetzingen um die Bürokratie in Serbien 1839–1958 (Frankfurt am Main, 1987); H.-M. Miedlig, “Patriarchalische Mentalität als Hindernis für die staatliche und gesellschaftliche Modernisierung Serbien im 19. Jahrhundert”, Südost-Forschungen 50, 1991, pp. 163–190; V. Georgiadu, Griechenlands nicht-kapitalisti-sche Entwicklungsaspekte im 19. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt am Main, 1991); Добpиhкaapyшeba, “∏олиtичea кyлypa и кyлtypa b олиtикata. Бaлкahиte b кpaя ha XIX и haчaлoto ha xx”, иctоpичeo бъдeшe, 1998, 1, pp. 111–124.

20 An apt illustration is Brian A. Porter, When Nationalism Began to Hate: Imagining Modern Politics in Nineteenth Century Poland (New York, 2000). For general accounts of east European nationalism, see Peter F. Sugar and Ivo John Lederer, eds., Nationalism in Eastern Europe (Seattle, 1994); Sugar, ed., Eastern European Nationalism in the Twentieth Century (Lanham, Md., 1995); Emil Niederhauser, The Rise of Nationality in Eastern Europe (Budapest, 1981); Andrew György, Nationalism in Eastern Europe (McLean, Va., 1970); Ronald Sussex and J. C. Eade, eds., Culture and Nationalism in Nineteenth-Century Eastern Europe (Columbus, 1985); Richard Plaschka, Nationalismus, Staatsgewalt, Widerstand: Aspekte nationaler und sozialer Entwicklung in Ostmittel- und Südosteuropa (München, 1985); Gerasimos Augustinos, ed., The National Idea in Eastern Europe: The Politics of Ethnic and Civic Community (Lexington, 1996); Charles and Barbara Jelavich, The Establishment of the Balkan National States, 1804–1920 (Seattle, 1977); Gale Stokes, Nationalism in the Balkans: An Annotated Bibliography (New York, 1984); John C. Swan-son, The remnants of the Habsburg monarchy: the shaping of modern Austria and Hungary, 1918–1922 (Boulder, 2001). Worth mentioning are also some major collective works on European nationalism in general, in which East Europe assumes the role of recipient of ideas: Mikuláš Teich and Roy Porter, eds., The National Question in Europe in Historical Context (Cambridge, 1993); Louk Hagendorn et al., eds., European Nations and Nationalism: Theoretical and Historical Perspectives (Alder-shot, 2000). For a first-class, recent comparative attempt in a general European framework that can serve as the rare example of a balanced rendition, see Ulrike v. Hirschhausen and Jörn Leonhard, Nationalismen in Europa: West- und Osteuropa im Vergleich (Göttingen, 2001).

21 K.-D. Grothusen, “Modernisierung und Nationsbildung. Modelltheoretische Überlegungen und ihre Anwendung auf Serbien und die Türkei,” Südost-Forschungen, Bd. XLIII, 1981, pp. 135–180; Rumen Daskalov, Holm Sundhaussen, “Modernisierungsansätze,” in Magarditsch Hatschikjan, Stefan Troebst, eds. Südosteuropa. Ein Handbuch: Gesellschaft, Politik, Wirtschaft, Kultur (Munich, 1999).

22 Gale Stokes, Politics as Development: The Emergence of Political Parties in Nineteenth-Century Serbia, (Durham & London, 1990); Alan Dingsdale. Mapping Modernities. Geographies of Central and Eastern Europe, 1920–2000 (London & NY, 2002), p. xxi. See also Gerasimos Augustinos, ed. Diverse Paths to Modernity in Southeastern Europe. Essays in National Development (New York, 1991).

23 Ian Kershaw and Moshe Levin, Stalinism and Nazism. Dictatorships in Comparison (Cambridge, 1997), pp. 344–345.

24 Sibel Bozdoğan and Reşat Kasaba, Rethinking Modernity and National Identity in Turkey (Seattle & London, 1997), p. 6.

25 Reinhart Koselleck, Zeitschichten: Studien zur Historik (Frankfurt am Main, 2000), pp. 359–380.

26 Joseph L. Love evokes the names of Paul Rosenstein-Rodan, Ragnar Nurske, Kurt Martin, Hans Singer, Alexander Gerschenkron, Peter Bauer, Paul Baran, Michal Kalecki and others. Love, Crafting the Third World: Theorizing Underdevelopment in Rumania and Brazil (Stanford, 1996), p. 6. Love argues that “in the interwar period [...] the newly independent and newly configured nations of East Central Europe constituted a ‘proto’-Third World in which the problems of economic and social backwardness were first confronted and formally theorized, against a range of development options, which included Soviet socialism.” (p. 214).

27 See the important collective volume of Daniel Chirot, ed., The Origins of Backwardness in Eastern Europe: Economics and Politics from the Middle Ages until the Early Twentieth Century (Berkeley, 1989), which was the result of a conference at Bellagio in 1985 and includes the first-class articles of Chirot, Robert Brenner, Peter Gunst, Jacek Kochanowicz, Fikret Adanir, John Lampe and Gale Stokes. This approach has produced important research, and at least a few other works are worth mentioning, even if they do not necessarily reach identical conclusions: John Lampe and Marvin R. Jackson, Balkan Economic History, 1550–1950: From Imperial Borderlands to Developing Nations (Bloomington, 1982); John Lampe, “Modernization and Social Structure: The Case of the pre-1914 Balkan Capitals,” Southeastern Europe/Europe du sud-est, 5, Pt.2, 1979, pp. 11–32; Iván T. Berend and György Ránki, The European Periphery and Industrialization, 1780–1914 (Cambridge, 1982); Berend and Ránki, “Underdevelopment in Europe in the Context of East-West Relations in the Nineteenth Century,” Etudes Historiques Hongroises 1 (1980): pp. 687–710; Michael Palairet, The Balkan Economies, 1800–1914: Evolution Without Development (Cambridge, 1997); Nikos Mouzelis, Modem Greece: Facets of Underdevelopment (London, 1978); Paul Bödy, Joseph Eötvös and the Modernization of Hungary, 1840–1870: A Study of Ideas of Individuality and Social Pluralism in Modern Politics (Boulder, 1985); Holm Sundhausen, “Zur Wechselbeziehung zwischen frühneuzeitlichem Außenhandel und ökonomischer Rückständigkeit in Osteuropa: Erne Auseinandersetzung mit der ‘Kolonialthese,’” Geschichte und Ge-sellschaft 9 (1983), pp. 544–563; Sundhausen, “Der Wandel der osteuropäischen Agrarverfassung während der frühen Neuzeit: Ein Beitrag zur Divergenz der Entwicklungswege von Ost- und Westeuropa,” Sudost-Forschungen 42 (1983): pp. 169–181; Sundhausen, “Die ‘Peripherisierungstheorie’ zur Erklärung Südosteu-ropäischer Geschichte,” in Uwe Hinrichs, Helmut Jachnow, Reinhard Lauer, and Gabriella Schubert, eds., Sprache in der Slavia und auf dem Balkan: Slavistische und balkanologische Aufsätze; Norbert Reiter zum 65. Geburtstag (Wiesbaden, 1993), pp. 277–288; Roland Schonfeld, ed, Industrialisierung und gesellschaftlicher Wan-del in Sudosteuropa (München, 1989); Zwetana Todorova, ed., Probleme der Modernisierung Bulgariens im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Sofia, 1994); Witold Kula, An economic theory of the feudal system. Towards a model of the Polish economy, 1500–1800 (London, 1976).

28 Jenő Szűcs, “Three Historical Regions of Europe,” in John Keane, ed., Civil Society and the State: New European Perspectives (London, 1988), pp. 291–331; Daniel Chirot, “Causes and Consequences of Backwardness,” in Chirot, Origins of Backwardness, pp. 1–14. The latter way of thinking was inspired by the significant impact of the work of Eric L. Jones, The European Miracle: Environments, Economies, and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia (Cambridge, 1981).

29 Maria Todorova, “The trap of backwardness: modernity, temporality and the study of Eastern European nationalism,” Slavic Review, 64, 1, Spring 2005, pp. 140–164.

30 Timothy Mitchell, Questions of Modernity, p. 15.

31 Vasso Argyriou, “Tradition, Modernity and European Hegemony in the Mediterranean,” Journal of Mediterranean Studies, vol. 12, No. 1, 2002, p. 34. Augusta Dimou demonstrates how “belated” modernity inflected the response of socialists. While social democrats in western countries saw their principal task in exposing, analyzing, and mitigating the exigencies of the modernization process, the Bulgarian social democrats first tried to persuade public opinion and their adversaries that modernization was the desired, necessary and unavoidable path for the country (Augusta Dimou, Entangled Paths Toward Modernity: Contextualizing socialism and nationalism in the Balkans (Budapest, 2009).

32 Gregory Jusdanis, Belated Modernity and Aesthetic Culture: Inventing National Literature (Minneapolis, 1991), p. xiii.

33 Dipesh Chakrabarty, Habitations of Modernity: Essays in the Wake of Subaltern Studies (Chicago, 2002), p. XX.

34 On alternative modernities, see: M. Featherstone, S. Lash and R. Roberton, Global Modernities (London, 1995); Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimension of Globalization (Minneapolis, 1996); Peter Geschiere and Michael Rowlands, “The Domestication of Modernity: Different Trajectories,” Africa 66 (4) 1996, pp. 552–54; L. Rofel, Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China After Socialism (Berkeley, 1999); Jean and John Comaroff, eds. Modernity and Its Malcontents: Ritual and Power in Postcolonial Africa (Chicago, 1999); Daedalus, Special Issue on ‘Multiple Modernities,” 129 (1) 2000; Timothy Mitchell, ed. Questions of Modernity, Minneapolis (London, 2000); Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, ed., Alternative Modernities (Durham, 2001); Dorothy Hodgson, Gendered Modernities: Ethnographic Perspectives (New York, 2001); Bruce M. Knauft, ed. Critically Modern: Alternatives, Alterities, Anthropologies (Bloomington, 2002).

35 Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, “Some Observations on Multiple Modernities,” in Dominic Sachsenmaier and Jens Riedel with Shmuel N. Eisenstadt, Reflections on Multiple Modernities: European, Chinese and Other Interpretations (Leiden, Boston, Cologne, 2002), pp. 27–41; S. N. Eisenstadt, ”Multiple Modernities”, Daedalus 129, 1, 2000, pp. 1–29; S. N. Eisenstadt, ed, Patterns of Modernity, vol. II: Beyond the West (New York, 1987); Eisenstadt, The Great Revolutions and the Civilizations of Modernity (Leiden, Boston, 2006), pp. 131–158.

36 Stacy Pigg has argued against the concept of the modern as universal, proposing instead to attribute its influence to its cosmopolitan nature, as if modifying an adjective from the Latin to the Greek would suddenly purify its subject. Stacy Pigg, “The Credible and the Credulous: The Question of ‘Villagers’ Beliefs’ in Nepal,“ Cultural Anthropology 11, No. 2 (1996), pp. 160–201. Cited in Christine J. Walley, “Our Ancestors Used to Bury their ‘Development’ in the Ground: Modernity and the Meanings of Development within a Tanzanian Marine Park,” Anthropological Quarterly 16, No. 1 (2003), pp. 33–54.

37 Jon P. Mitchell, Ambivalent Europeans, p. 13.

38 Peter Van der Veer, “The Global History of ‘Modernity’, “Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, 43, 3, 1998, pp. 285–294.

39 Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, “On Alternative Modernities,” in: op.cit., pp. 14

40 Jon P. Mitchell, Ambivalent Europeans, pp. 241.

41 James Ferguson, “Decomposing Modernity: History and Hierarchy after Development,” in Ania Loomba, Suvir Kaul, Matti Bunzl, Antoinette Burton and Jed Esty, eds., Postcolonial Studies and Beyond (Durham, 2005); James Ferguson, Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt (Berkeley, 1999). This view tallies well with Taylor’s two theories of modernity, an “acultural” one that views transition as a set of culture-neutral operations transforming any traditional society, and a cultural theory which holds that modernity always unfolds within a specific cultural and civilizational context (Charles Taylor, “Two theories of Modernity,” in Dilip P. Gaonkar, ed, Alternative Modernities).

42 Timothy Mitchell, “The Stage of Modernity,” op.cit., p. 24.

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