In this major new study, Prasenjit Duara expands his influential theoretical framework to present circulatory, transnational histories as an alternative to nationalist history. Duara argues that the present day is defined by the intersection of three global changes: the rise of non-western powers, the crisis of environmental sustainability and the loss of authoritative sources of what he terms transcendence – the ideals, principles and ethics once found in religions or political ideologies. The physical salvation of the world is becoming – and must become – the transcendent goal of our times, but this goal must transcend national sovereignty if it is to succeed. Duara suggests that a viable foundation for sustainability might be found in the traditions of Asia, which offer different ways of understanding the relationship between the personal, ecological and universal. These traditions must be understood through the ways they have circulated and converged with contemporary developments.
1. Sustainability and the crisis of transcendence
2. Circulatory and competitive histories
3. The historical logics of global modernity
4. Dialogical and radical transcendence
5. Dialogical transcendence and secular nationalism in the Sinosphere
6. The traffic between secularism and transcendence
7. Regions of circulation and networks of sustainability in Asia
8. Conclusion and epilogue: of reason and hope
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Prasenjit Duara is the Raffles Professor of Humanities and Director of the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore. He received his PhD in Chinese history from Harvard University, and taught at the University of Chicago between 1991 and 2008, where he served as Professor and Chair of the Department of History and Chair of the Committee on Chinese Studies. In 1988, he published Culture, Power and the State: Rural North China, 1900-1942, which won the Fairbank Prize of the American Historical Association and the Levenson Prize of the Association of Asian Studies, USA. Among his other books are: Rescuing History from the Nation (1995); Sovereignty and Authenticity: Manchukuo and the East Asian Modern (2003); an edited volume, Decolonization: Now and Then (2004); and A Companion to Global Historical Thought, co-edited with Viren Murthy and Andrew Sartori (2014). His work has been widely translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and several European languages.