literature · synopses
Gerrit Steunebrink / Evert van der Zweerde (eds.):
Civil Society, Religion and the Nation: Modernization in Intercultural Context: Russia, Japan, Turkey.
Amsterdam – New York: Rodopi, 2004.
(Studies in Intercultural Philosophy 14)
XVI, 328 pages
Website The book considers our understanding of modernization and its connection to the specifically nineteenth-century constellation of citizenship, religion and nationalism to be limited, but it fails to clarify the relations between modernization and westernization.
Islamic fundamentalism versus Western modernity: It looks like the hour of Huntington's prophecy of »clash of civilizations« has already come. Modernity defines itself as »westernity.« But even if modernity has been mostly identified with the western world, it extends well beyond it. It might be of European origins, but is it in essence European? Does a country's cultural identity get lost during a modernization process? If civil society is the symbol for a modernity that entails the development of liberalism, individualism and human rights, then what is the task of nationalism and national religions?
Gerrit Steunebrink and Evert van der Zweerde's volume is concerned with the aforesaid queries. It is divided into four major sections; the first three reflect on the cases of Russia, Japan and Turkey and their respective journeys to modernity, and the last one reflects on general and theoretical contributions to the subject. These countries' historical similarities, consisting in never-colony status, ex-empires status, and a modernization path stemming from a government/ruler's political decision, motivated the editors to attempt this approach, choosing another perspective of intercultural philosophy by challenging the
In the first section Pauline Schrooyen explains the post-reform Russian society transition from traditional to modern by assessing state-society relations. Marina Bykova sees the post-Soviet Russian movement for national identity as
In Japan, argues Paul Kevenhörster, there evolves a Japanese modernity articulated in a progressively participating civil society, despite its
In the third section, Gerrit Steunebrink compares the liberalism/nationalism history of Europe and Turkey, and claims the reception of liberalism in today's Turkey and Turkey's participation in the EU as a clear sign of differences and tensions between Islam and Christianity. Yasin Ceylan describes the conflict between state and religion, and deems successful the modernization process of Muslim societies only through a radical parallel re-establishment of state and religious institutions, while Ayse Kadioglu investigates the concept of modern citizenship, and portrays the evolution of
In the last section, Peter van der Veer shows the significance of religious movements for the
The volume's range is considerable, with diverse themes and approaches, but lamentably they are not compared and interwoven with each other in the three-cultural framework, leaving a discussion vacuum that makes this a textbook. The book considers our understanding of modernization and its connection to the specifically nineteenth-century constellation of citizenship, religion and nationalism to be limited, but it fails to clarify the relations between modernization and westernization. Notwithstanding, the avoidance of »occidentocentrism,« and the ability to think globally by using