Political Thought in Modern Asia (CHINA 146, CHINA 246, POLISCI 235N, POLISCI 335N)
Jiang, D. (PI)
The study of political theory in the United States has been accused of being Western-centric: We tend to focus on intellectual traditions from Plato to NATO, while ignoring the vast world of non-Western societies and the ways they think about politics and public life. How do Chinese thinkers conceptualize human rights and good governance? How do Indian intellectuals reconcile democracy and inherited hierarchies in Hinduism? How do Islamic scholars view the relationship between religious authority and secular authority? Should we regard liberal democracy, or Western civilization more broadly, as representing the universal value guiding every society? Or, should we learn from non-Western ideas and values so as to solve problems plaguing Western societies? How can competing visions of good life coexist in a globalized and increasingly pluralistic world? This course aims to answer these questions by exploring three Asian traditions and their perspectives on politics: Confucianism, Hinduism, and Islam. We will focus on the modern period (19th-21st centuries) and the ways intellectuals in these societies respond to the challenge of modernity and Western superiority. Special attention is given to how these intellectuals conceive of the relationship between modernity and their respective traditions: Are they compatible or mutually exclusive? In which ways do intellectuals interpret these traditions so as to render them (in)compatible with modernity? We will read academic articles written by Anglophone scholars as well as original texts written by non-Western thinkers. No knowledge of non-Western languages is required.
Letter or Credit/No Credit