Duke University Press Books
Antinomies of Modernity asserts that concepts of race, Orient, and nation have been crucial to efforts across the world to create a sense of place, belonging, and solidarity in the midst of the radical discontinuities wrought by global capitalism. Emphasizing the continued salience at the beginning of the twenty-first century of these supposedly nineteenth-century ideas, the essays in this volume stress the importance of tracking the dynamic ways that race, Orient, and nation have been reworked and used over time and in particular geographic locations.
Drawing on archival sources and fieldwork, the contributors explore aspects of modernity within societies of South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Whether considering how European ideas of Orientalism became foundational myths of Indian nationalism; how racial caste systems between blacks, South Asians, and whites operate in post-apartheid South Africa; or how Indian immigrants to the United States negotiate their identities, these essays demonstrate that the contours of cultural and identity politics did not simply originate in metropolitan centers and get adopted wholesale in the colonies. Colonial and postcolonial modernisms have emerged via the active appropriation of, or resistance to, far-reaching European ideas. Over time, Orientalism and nationalist and racialized knowledges become indigenized and acquire, for all practical purposes, a completely "Third World" patina. Antinomies of Modernity shows that people do make history, constrained in part by political-economic realities and in part by the categories they marshal in doing so.