New Asias: Global Futures of World Regions

New Asias

Author(s):  Hyun-Chin Lim, Wolf Schäfer and Suk-Man Hwang

ISBN:           978-89-521-1126-5

Publisher:  Seoul National University

Year:           2010

Price:         $38.42

Reviewed by Emilian Kavalski, Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, University of Western Sydney (Australia).

Globalization has become shorthand for the profound alterations in post-Cold War international affairs. Its patterns reflects the complex interaction between societies and states as a result of the speed and scope of technological innovation, the proliferation of affordable means of travel, and the growing levels of economic interdependence. While it is often difficult to render legible such a dynamic international environment, this has not deterred a number of state and non-state actors to engage in creative entrepreneurship on the global stage. In this respect, apart from a descriptor of global interactions, globalization has also provided analytical lens for the discussion of the nascent patterns of international life.

Perhaps, one of the more prominent ones has been the so-called Asianization of global politics as a result of the perceived power transition from the West to the East – especially, in the context of an ever-more pervasive Chinese international presence in the economic, political, security spheres. Yet, as the volume edited by Hyun-Chin Lim, Wolf Schäfer, and Suk-Man Hwang demonstrates, it is precisely this conflation between China’s rise and Asian developments that leads to oversimplification of the multiplicity and complexity of the diverse global region that is Asia. In this respect, while China is indeed in Asia, it is not the whole of Asia. Thus, in an attempt to rectify this trend, the editors have provocatively titled the collection “new Asias” in an attempt to demonstrate that Asia is not a singular, homogeneous place, but an idiosyncratic, often disparate and mostly fluid temporal and spatial arrangement, which is marked by complex patterns of continuity and change.

The point of departure for the volume is that owing to the dynamics of globalization most regions around the world – such as Asia – have become global. In other words, “global regions have emerged as economic, political, and cultural zones of translocal power and natural units of global studies and analyses. [For instance] sizeable regions of the globe used to be worlds unto themselves in preglobal times… regional disconnection was a significant longue durée structure manifesting itself in genetic, cultural, and linguistic footprints, small and large. Today, this structure is almost completely dissolved. All regions of the world are now close neighbors thanks to the globalization of communication and transportation, tourism and trade” (p. xii). Thus, the global defragmentation of globalization is a key source for the multiplicity that defines global regions. The volume therefore aims to capture the diversity of “new Asias” in an attempt to offer an explanation and understanding what their contribution might be to addressing some of the most pressing global concerns that the world is currently facing.

In order to offer a convincing explanation and understanding, the collection is divided into two parts. The first one outlines a series of theoretical perspectives on the intersection between Asia and globalization. The six chapters included in this part of the volume engage with issues as diverse as (i) the comprehensive description of the new Asian development paradigms; (ii) the re-articulation of the concepts of globalization, globalism, and globality; (iii) the association between the rise of Asia and the globalization of Fordism, (iv) the detailed rendition of knowledge networks in East Asia; (v) the impact of globalization theory in Asia; and (vi) the differentiation between the modalities of globalization in the twentieth and twenty-first century. This analytical framework provides a relevant set of perspectives for engaging diverse sets of Asian developments.

The second part of the volume engages in comparative studies of different aspects central to the definition of the “new Asias.” As a result this section provides five detailed parallel assessments of (i) the divergent forms of Asian capitalisms; (ii) the international and domestic responses to the dialectic of good governance and democracy in Southeast Asia; (iii) the potential of and the ability to build trust as a conflict-solving mechanism in Northeast Asia; (iv) the interface between international and domestic immigration rules and norms as instanced by the case of Japan; and (v) the potential and prospective global bearing of the Chinese automotive industries. Apart from offering careful consideration, such comparative analyses outline trends that have significant bearing on the dynamics of globalization in Asia.

Thus, the image of the “new Asias” that the volume draws is simultaneously vivid, poignant, and variegated. Yet, such a depiction should not be treated as exhaustive. The editors are quite explicit that their intention is to offer a thoughtful and comprehensive encounter with the content, practices, and frameworks of Asia’s encounter with globalization. In this respect, the erudite perspectives presented by the contributors to the volume respond to a nascent requirement to initiate a process of contextualising the evaluation of global experiences. The intriguing accounts presented by this edited volume suggest that instead of simplifying the complexity of Asia, we need to study it, engaged with it, and ultimately celebrate it.

It is in the process of accumulating such knowledge that this diversity of experience and dynamics can become not only more comprehensible, but also less threatening. As Ronald Dore acknowledges the future of the dynamic global region that is Asia depends on its capacity to master “the world’s stock of scientific knowledge in a particular field and going on to discover new knowledge and invent new technology in that field… It is in fact the chief thing that counts provided you have the university facilities to train those brains, the culture that determines how their possessors use them, and the state resources devoted to mobilizing them for what are deemed to be national interest purposes” (p. 285).

Thus, by drawing attention to overlooked features of globalization and their impact on the patterns of Asia’s international interactions, the volume edited by Hyun-Chin Lim, Wolf Schäfer, and Suk-Man Hwang has made a thoughtful contribution to the fields of Asian Studies and Global Studies alike. On the one hand, it has direct bearing on the ways in which we study Asia and, on the other hand, it actively contributes to the explanation and understanding of global life as constituted by multiple, coexistent, and inter-related worlds. It is expected, therefore, that the volume will be of interest to the growing cohort of students, scholars, and commentators of Asian affairs.

Suggested citation:

Emilian Kawalski (2010). Review of “New Asias: Global Futures of World Regions” edited by Hyun-Chin Lim, Wolf Schäfer and Suk-Man Hwang, East Asian Integration Studies, Vol. 7, no.10, Internet file : https://asianintegration.org/index.php?option=com_joomlib&task=view&id=124&Itemid=75

Advertisements