Book Review: ‘Asia after Europe’ by Sugata Bose

Rediscovering Asia: From past struggles to shared futures

Book Title: Asia after Europe: Imagining a Continent in the Long Twentieth Century
Author: Sugata Bose
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0674297616
Date Published: Feb. 5, 2024
Price: INR 477

Asia after Europe by Sugata Bose Book Cover

Book Review

Sugata Bose’s intriguing and incisive book, “Asia after Europe: Imagining a Continent in the Long Twentieth Century,” gives a gripping story of Asia’s struggle to establish its identity against the backdrop of European colonialism and the following rise of global powers. Drawing on a rich tapestry of history, Bose provides a succinct yet thorough examination of how Asian philosophers and intellectuals dealt with concepts of solidarity and universalism, challenging Eurocentric ideas. Bose explains via thorough research and entertaining narrative how comprehending Asia’s past is critical to visualizing its future.

Bose’s story revolves around the idea that Asia’s identity cannot be completely realized until it is free of the limits imposed by European colonial-era maps. As the balance of global power changes towards Asia, there is an urgent need to reconsider what it means to be Asian and investigate the continent’s rich and intertwined past. Bose deftly investigates the movement of ideas and people across colonial and national borders, showing the intricate growth of Asian thinking, art, and politics.

Throughout the book, Bose emphasizes the contributions of significant personalities such as Rabindranath Tagore, Okakura Tenshin, and Liang Qichao, who were instrumental in reviving the concept of Asia as a unique civilizational zone. Their attempts to oppose Western dominance and promote Asian unity paved the way for a new age of intellectual and cultural interaction. By exploring the links between literature, art, and spirituality, Bose reveals the complex fabric of Asian identity and its persistent endurance in the face of colonialism and nationalism.

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In his investigation of Asia’s past, Bose faces the continent’s modern difficulties and prospects in the era of globalization. While China’s growth has altered the balance of economic power, Bose cautions against falling prey to the hierarchical ideas of Asian leadership. Instead, he emphasizes the necessity of instilling a sense of familiarity and solidarity among Asia’s varied peoples, picturing a future marked by cooperation and respect. “Asia after Europe” is more than simply a historical narrative; it is a call to action, encouraging readers to reconsider their perception of Asia and embrace its unique tapestry of cultures, traditions, and ambitions.

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