Modernity and Exclusion by Joel S Kahn

By Joel S Kahn

This penetrating booklet re-examines `the undertaking of modernity'. It seeks to oppose the summary, idealized imaginative and prescient of modernity with another `ethnographic' figuring out. The ebook defends an method of modernity that situates it as embedded particularly and ancient contexts. It examines situations of `popular modernism' within the usa, Britain and colonial Malaysia, drawing out the explicit cultural and spiritual assumptions underlying well known modernism and concludes that modernism is implicated in a range of kinds of cultural and racial exclusion.

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Both the astrologers and their clients came, broadly speaking, from the urban middle classes . . Although otherwise unexceptional, such a social background for the reappearance of astrology is striking, given the overwhelmingly rural and uneducated character of astrology's previous constituency. (1992: 11±12) Along with this developing Victorian counter-rationalism went a reassessment of the evangelical liberal attitudes towards other societies.

First, there is the fact that Hargrave's NATURALISING DIFFERENCE IN BRITAIN 35 own reading of history produces a vision of the primitive condition that is in a very real sense precisely the inverse of the primitivism of the better known Victorian social theorists. While the latter might be called primitivephobes, Hargrave manifests a form of primitive-mania. Secondly, from what has already been said, British primitivism is commonly thought to be best understood as deeply embedded in the project of empire, and linked to both beliefs and practices of colonial/racial othering, Hargrave's primitivism stems from a set of debates about the British worker as the primitive other.

Primitivism, as the term is being used here, refers to more than a positive attitude towards the primitive. It refers also to a series of related assumptions and concepts about particular groups or individuals through which these others are understood as not just outside what in Hargrave's time was called civilisation, but in some sense prior to it. Central to the discourse I am labelling primitivist is a notion of history that found its ®rst full expression in nineteenth century western ideas about the laws of historical development.

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