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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Alternative discourses in Asian social science

By: Syed Farid Alatas Publication: Sage ISBN: 0-7619-3440-5 Price: Rs 550 Pages: 226

india Updated: Oct 28, 2006 17:26 IST


The social sciences in Asia, like most other disciplines, were introduced by the West and continue to look towards them for inspiration, affirmation and legitimacy.

There is now a growing awareness amongst scholars and students about the need for developing Asia-centric social sciences in order to better appreciate Asian realities.

Written against this background, this book addresses a set of problems surrounding the state of the social sciences in Asia.

It contextualises these problems by pointing to the historical and continuing dominance over Asian social science discourses by Western paradigms and concepts.

The Author

Syed Farid Alatas is Associate Professor at the Department of Sociology in National University of Singapore.

He obtained his PhD (1991) from Johns Hopkins University and has previously lectured in the Department of Southeast Asian Studies, University of Malaya (2989-92).

He has previously published two books -- Democracy and authoritarianism: The rise of the post-colonial state in Indonesia and Malaysia (1997) and Asian anthropology (2005).

He is presently working on a book in the area of Muslim revival and another project on the Ba'alawi sufi order. 

The writer documents various critiques of the state of the social sciences in Asia and critically assesses the prescriptions for alternative discourses that have emerged from these critiques.

These critiques address problems such as Orientalism, Eurocentrism, the captive mind, academic imperialism and dependency.

These critiques have variously generated pleas for alternative discourses, for decolonised knowledge and for indigenised social sciences.

However, the author maintains, these calls for alternative discourses in the social sciences are not without their own problems.

He, therefore, goes beyond documentation and critical assessment to the explicit conceptualisation of relevant and irrelevant social science.

Among the important features of this book are that it has been a pan-Asian focus and that it incorporates perspectives drawn from sociology, anthropology and other social sciences.

It will be of interest to scholars and students of all social science disciplines but particularly for those studying sociology, cultural sciences, anthropology, and the theory and philosophy of the social sciences.

First Published: May 24, 2006 19:27 IST

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