On alternative modernities. Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar · Communication Studies. Research output: Contribution to journal › Article. Alternative Modernities has 13 ratings and 0 reviews. To think in terms of “ alternative modernities” is to admit that modernity is inescapable and to des. D.P. Gaonkar on Alternative Modernities. “To think in terms of alternative modernities does not mean blithely abandon the Western discourse.

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Alternative Modernities

Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Antimodernism and Artistic Experience: Policing the Boundaries of Modernity. University of Toronto Press Studies of artistic modernism, cultural modernity, ideas of the modern, and, most interestingly, resistance to ganokar are proliferating quickly now that the material processes of modernization have become nothing less than global destiny.

Most of the essays examine modernity from specific national and cultural sites and most work from the same premise. Moernities learn, once again, that modernity always eludes universalist definition.

It is, instead, composed by the endless pluralism of differing cultural experiences. These differences form a kind of invisible planet that exerts gravitational influence, but the planet itself cannot be spotted. All the instruments agree it is there, but no one allternative ever seen it whole.

The modernization process, on the other hand, is flagrantly visible.

On alternative modernities — Northwestern Scholars

The techno-economic juggernaut of modernization may affect different societies and cultures in different ways and the alert scholar must think his or her way through to those differences, but, like the eighteen-wheeler hurtling down the highway, modernization pursues a logic all its own. We are taken to many places around the globe: But for all the talk about cultural difference, we always seem to find the same unsettling fallout everywhere: Meanwhile we all seem to get run over by that hideous truck anyway.


Despite this dismaying perception, the essays are very good, with plenty of new information and penetrating analysis. Dipesh Chakrabarty on the tradition of adda in Calcutta a kind of pre-industrial chat room is richly detailed and cogently presented.

In fact, it is unfair to single out three essays without saying that all of them are worth reading. Gaonkar has rendered valuable service in bringing these scholars together in a single volume.

On alternative modernities

This refers to a what else? The all-too-predictable failure to connect with them hardly needs any emphasis. Whereas Alternative Modernities takes in a wider social and cultural perspective, Antimodernism and Artistic Experience, as the title suggest, narrows the focus to art, making links between the formal arts of the metropolis and a variety of so-called primitive communities, cultures, and folk, naive, and primitive art practices.

Inevitably that standard artist-intruder Paul Gauguin in the South Pacific comes in alterntaive extended attention. But so do many other artists and artistic communities, including many in Canada. These latter essays are particularly valuable because so much gaoknar the material they deal with will be new to the general reader interested in modernism.

Specialists in anthropology, folk culture, or art history may disagree, but I found them very useful. Ruth Phillips on the performatives of native-icity alone is worth alternstive price of admission.

There is a great deal of social, cultural, and historical material in both books that makes them important additions to scholarship, but I must confess that, at the end of the day, I was left a little confused about certain larger issues. For example, the contributors to the Jessup book do not seem to me to theorize the concept of a folk culture with sufficient clarity. Ditto for notions of the primitive.


On Alternative Modernities | Public Culture | Duke University Press

This is certainly a point that needs to be front and centre when discussing the work of European artists in contact with native traditions, Paul Gauguin or Emily Carr. But a certain residue of that longing and nostalgia from a hundred years ago persists even among the scholars who are trying to fathom the phenomenon today.

The problem in dealing with alternative modernities or antimodernism is that old-fashioned modernity and modernism were apternative historically constituted as alternatives, as counter-cultural strategies right from the start. Were they forms of resistance against the taking off of modernization in the nineteenth and early alrernative centuries, or were they, perhaps unwittingly, the decorative side of the very material and commercial progress they appeared to oppose?

Gaonkar seems conscious of this in his introduction, although it is a dilemma that needs alteenative extensive scrutiny than he gives it.

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