Taiwan As Laboratory of Modernity: A Preliminary View from the Perspective of Multiple Modernities

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 21 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Chih-Chieh TANG, Academia Sinica, Taiwan
This paper explores the development of modernity in Taiwan from the perspective of multiple modernities and world history. It takes Taiwan as an innovative frontier of inter-civilizational encounters, and sees an overlapping marginal position in Chinese, Japanese, and European imperialist spheres during the formation of the modern world society since the 16th century. The so called modernity emerged in the interactions and interconnections between the different regions, cultures, and civilizations, and had different variants, if not different forms, since its birth. When we combine this new reconceptualization of modernity with the idea of functional differentiation as the most important structural characteristic of modernity, we would have a better theoretical equipment to escape the trap of Eurocentrism, and are able to integrate the sociological theoretical reflections with the fruits of world history study. Taking this as departure, I will illustrate why Taiwan was a significant laboratory of modernity in the modern world society. Lastly, I will discuss why the perspective of multiple modernities is useful in the contemporary situation and what kind of knowledge gain it can bring us when we unfold the paradox of observations of the modern world from this perspective.