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Coming to Terms with the West: Intellectual Strategies of Bifurcation and Post-Westernism in Siam

Coming to Terms with the West: Intellectual Strategies of Bifurcation and Post-Westernism in Siam

Chapter:
(p.135) 6 Coming to Terms with the West: Intellectual Strategies of Bifurcation and Post-Westernism in Siam
Source:
The Ambiguous Allure of the West
Author(s):
Thongchai Winichakul
Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789622091214.003.0007

This chapter attempts to establish a “post-Western” intellectual framework for dealing with the West and assesses its implications in broader cultural and intellectual contexts. It discusses two of the various intellectual strategies that have been deployed in dealing with the West. One, originating in the mid-nineteenth century, is an epistemological framework for selecting Western knowledge and influence by means of a conceptual bifurcation between the spiritual and the worldly, which remains widely used today despite, or because of, its simplicity and imprecision. Another epistemological framework for dealing with the influence of the West in the Thai academic context is illustrated by the postcolonial critique known as “post-Westernism,” which allegedly seeks to end intellectual domination by the West. In contrast to the strategy of bifurcation, post-Westernism is very recent and the durability of its influence and its broader implications remain unclear.

Keywords:   intellectual framework, intellectual strategies, bifurcation, postcolonial critique, post-Westernism, intellectual domination

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