Asiacentrism

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Asiacentrism, Asio-centrism, or Asiacentricity is a term denoting an ethnocentric perspective that regards Asia (as in Asian American, a racial concept in US society which includes people of East, Southeast and South Asian descent) to be either superior, central, or unique relative to other continents or countries, in either history or at present. This can take the form of ascribing to Asia unwarranted significance or supremacy at the cost of the rest of the world.[1] The concept arose since the 1990s in the context of a projected Asian Century, the expected economic and cultural dominance of Asia (primarily China) in the 21st century.

Paul Wong, Meera Manvi, and Takeo Hirota Wong proposed “Asiacentrism” in the 1995 special issue of Amerasia Journal on “Thinking Theory in Asian American Studies.” They envisioned Asiacentrism both as a critique of hegemonic Eurocentrism in theory building in the humanities and social sciences and as a post-Orientalist epistemological paradigm in Asian American Studies. They suggested that there is a need to tap into Asian traditions of thought for analyzing Asian American behaviors and for advancing global knowledge in the human interest. In their view, Asiacentrism may be able to offer an alternative Asian perspective grounded in an awareness of the dynamics of a postcolonial world.[2]

It is possible to argue that Asian American Studies has, since its inception, permitted itself to be conceptually incarcerated in a hegemonic Eurocentric culture and world view. Not only is the English language serving as the lingua franca of Asian American Studies, but it is easily evident that many scholars in Asian American Studies do not regard the acquisition of at least one Asian language, as a second language, an important part of their training, thereby curtailing their communicative and research competence with the majority of Asian Americans, whose primary language is not English. While much scholarship has been devoted to “… present voices from our (Asian American) past which were never silent, but often ignored, minimalized, and marginalized by traditional historical accounts of the United States,” there has been no serious attempt to contextualize this scholarship in what may be termed the “deep structure” of a shared Asiacentric perspective.[3]

Yoshitaka Miike, who was inspired by Molefi Kete Asante’s Afrocentric idea,[4] coined the term Asiacentricity and outlined the Asiacentric project in culture and communication studies in 2003.[5] He recently defined Asiacentricity as “the self-conscious act of centering Asian languages, religions/philosophies, histories, and aesthetics when addressing Asian people and phenomena.” According to him, Asiacentricity “insists on revivifying and revitalizing diverse Asian cultural traditions as theoretical resources in order to capture Asians as subjects and actors of their own cultural realities rather than objects and spectators in the lived experiences of others.”[6]

Simply put, Asiacentricity is the idea of centering, not marginalizing, Asian languages, religions/philosophies, and histories in theory-making and storytelling about Asian communicative life. Asiacentricity aims to encourage careful and critical engagements of Asian communicators with their own cultural traditions for self-understanding, self-expression, communal development, and cross-cultural dialogue. Intraculturally, it helps Asians embrace the positive elements of their cultural heritage and transform negative practices according to their ethical ideals. Interculturally, it helps Asians find “a place to stand,” so to speak, and provides the basis of equality and mutuality in the global community.[7]

Borrowing from Daisetz Suzuki’s words, Miike stated that Asiacentricity is essentially “the idea of being deep and open,” that is, the idea of being rooted in our own culture and, at the same time, open to other cultures.[8] He differentiated Asiacentricity as a particularist position from Asiacentrism as a universalist ideology and maintained that Asiacentricity is a legitimate culture-centric approach to cultural Asia and people of Asian descent, while Asiacentrism is an ethnocentric approach to non-Asian worlds and people of non-Asian heritage. Asiacentrists are neither cultural chauvinists nor cultural separatists.[9]

Asiacentricity is neither a hegemonic Asiacentrism nor an Asian version of ethnocentric Eurocentrism. Asiacentricity does not present the Asian worldview as the only universal frame of reference and impose it on non-Asians. Hence, Asiacentrists should be alert to Park’s (2001) warning: “An idea is not good merely because it is old or because it is new. It is not necessarily good because it is an Eastern idea or a Western idea, or just because it is ours” (p. 8). Asiacentrists thus should not deny the value of other non-Asiacentric perspectives on Asians. Nevertheless, they must reject the hegemonic ideology that non-Asiacentric theoretical standpoints are superior to Asiacentric ones and therefore can grossly neglect the latter in the discussion and discourse surrounding Asian people and phenomena. They must reject the hegemonic ideology that the Asian version of humanity can be judged solely from the Eurocentric vision of humanity.[10]

Miike identified six dimensions of Asiacentricity: (1) an assertion of Asians as subjects and agents; (2) the centrality of the collective and humanistic interests of Asia and Asians in the process of knowledge reconstruction about the Asian world; (3) the placement of Asian cultural values and ideals at the center of inquiry into Asian thought and action; (4) the groundedness in Asian historical experiences; (5) an Asian theoretical orientation to data; and (6) an Asian ethical critique and corrective of the dislocation and displacement of Asian people and phenomena.[11]

In Miike’s comprehensive outline, Asiacentricity (1) generates theoretical knowledge that corresponds to Asian communication discourse, (2) focuses on the multiplicity and complexity of Asian communicative experience, (3) reflexively constitutes and critically transforms Asian communication discourse, (4) theorizes how common aspects of humanity are expressed and understood in Asian cultural particularities, and (5) critiques Eurocentric biases in theory and research and helps Asian researchers overcome academic dependency.[12]

Jing Yin explored the possibility of constructing an Asiacentric feminist theory in the 2009 special issue of the Journal of the Multicultural Discourses on “New Frontiers in Asian Communication Theory.” She argued that Eurocentric feminism often reduces the richness and complexities of non-Western cultural traditions to gender oppression alone. She argued that the Asiacentric feminist approach commends the complementarity of genders, embraces the harmony of the individual and the community, and endorses the dialectics of rights and responsibilities.[13]

Asante made positive comments on the Asiacentric efforts of both Wong, Manvi, and Wong in the 1990s and Miike and Yin in the 2000s. In the revised edition of The Afrocentric Idea, referring to Wong, Manvi, and Wong, Asante wrote: “I have been very gratified that educators were quick to see its [the Afrocentric idea’s] implications for developing curricula that can empower students of all cultures; one group of scholars even proposes using it to develop an ‘Asiacentric’ perspective for Asian American Studies.”[14]

As for Miike and Yin, in An Afrocentric Manifesto, Asante remarked: “The original work of Yoshitaka Miike on Asiacentric communication is instructive. Miike, alongside Jing Yin, has articulated a view of Asian culture that seeks to liberate the discourse around Asian communication ideas and rhetorical concepts away from being forced into the straightjacket of Western ideas. This is a remarkable undertaking that will have far-reaching effect on the course of social science and humanities discussions about culture.”[15]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Miike, Y. (2006). Non-Western theory in Western research? An Asiacentric agenda for Asian communication studies. Review of Communication, 6(1/2), 4-31. doi: 10.1080/15358590600763243
  • Miike, Y. (2007). An Asiacentric reflection on Eurocentric bias in communication theory. Communication Monographs, 74(2), 272-278. doi: 10.1080/03637750701390093
  • Miike, Y. (2008). Toward an alternative metatheory of human communication: An Asiacentric vision. In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (pp. 57–72). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Miike, Y. (2010). Culture as text and culture as theory: Asiacentricity and its raison d’être in intercultural communication research. In T. K. Nakayama & R. T. Halualani (Eds.), The handbook of critical intercultural communication (pp. 190–215). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Miike, Y. (2012). “Harmony without uniformity”: An Asiacentric worldview and its communicative implications. In L. A. Samovar, R. E. Porter, & E. R. McDaniel (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (13th ed., pp. 65–80). Boston, MA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
  • Miike, Y. (2014). The Asiacentric turn in Asian communication studies: Shifting paradigms and changing perspectives. In M. K. Asante, Y. Miike, & J. Yin (Eds.), The global intercultural communication reader (2nd ed., pp. 111–133). New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Miike, Y., & Yin, J. (2015). Asiacentricity and shapes of the future: Envisioning the field of intercultural communication in the globalization era. In L. A. Samovar, R. E. Porter, E. R. McDaniel, & C. S. Roy (Eds.), Intercultural communication: A reader (14th ed., pp. 449–465). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
  • Wong, P., Manvi, M., & Wong, T. H. (1995). Asiacentrism and Asian American Studies? Amerasia Journal, 21(1/2), 137-147.
  • Yin, J. (2009). Negotiating the center: Towards an Asiacentric feminist communication theory. Journal of Multicultural Discourses, 4(1), 75-88. doi: 10.1080/17447140802651660

References[edit]

  1. ^ Asiacentrism and Asian American Studies? - Retrieved 23 July 2013.[unreliable source?] Thomas Wier - Dept. of Linguistics[unreliable source?]
  2. ^ Paul Wong, Meera Manvi, & Takeo Hirota Wong, “Asiacentrism and Asian American Studies?,” In Michael Omi & Dana Takagi (Eds.), Thinking Theory in Asian American Studies (Special Issue), Amerasia Journal, Vol. 21, Nos. 1/2, 1995, pp. 137-147.
  3. ^ Paul Wong, Meera Manvi, & Takeo Hirota Wong, “Asiacentrism and Asian American Studies?,” In Michael Omi & Dana Takagi (Eds.), Thinking Theory in Asian American Studies (Special Issue), Amerasia Journal, Vol. 21, Nos. 1/2, 1995, p. 140.
  4. ^ Molefi Kete Asante & Yoshitaka Miike, “Paradigmatic Issues in Intercultural Communication Studies: An Afrocentric-Asiacentric Dialogue,” China Media Research, Vol. 9, No. 3, July 2013, pp. 1-19.
  5. ^ Yoshitaka Miike, “Beyond Eurocentrism in the Intercultural Field: Searching for an Asiacentric Paradigm,” In William J. Starosta & Guo-Ming Chen (Eds.), Ferment in the Intercultural Field: Axiology/Value/Praxis (International and Intercultural Communication Annual, Vol. 26), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2003, pp. 243-276.
  6. ^ Yoshitaka Miike, “Asiacentricity,” Key Concepts in Intercultural Dialogue, No. 24, July 21, 2014, Washington, DC: Center for Intercultural Dialogue. (Available from http://centerforinterculturaldialogue.org/2014/07/21/key-concept-24-asiacentricity-by-yoshitaka-miike/.)
  7. ^ Yoshitaka Miike, “Cultural Traditions and Communication Theory: Clarifying the Asiacentric Paradigm,” China Media Research, Vol. 8, No. 3, July 2012, p. 3.
  8. ^ Yoshitaka Miike, “Asiacentricity: The Idea of Being Deep and Open,” In Francesca Bargiela-Chiappini, Catherine Nickerson, & Brigitte Planken, Business Discourse (2nd Ed.), Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, pp. 57-58.
  9. ^ Yoshitaka Miike, “Asiacentricity,” In Ronald L. Jackson (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Identity (Vol. 1), Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2010, pp. 46-48.
  10. ^ Yoshitaka Miike, “Rethinking Humanity, Culture, and Communication: Asiacentric Critiques and Contributions,” Human Communication: A Journal of the Pacific and Asian Communication Association, Vol. 7, No. 1, Winter 2004, p. 73.
  11. ^ Yoshitaka Miike, “An Anatomy of Eurocentrism in Communication Scholarship: The Role of Asiacentricity in De-Westernizing Theory and Research,” China Media Research, Vol. 6, No. 1, January 2010, p. 4.
  12. ^ Yoshitaka Miike, “An Anatomy of Eurocentrism in Communication Scholarship: The Role of Asiacentricity in De-Westernizing Theory and Research,” China Media Research, Vol. 6, No. 1, January 2010, pp. 5-7.
  13. ^ Jing Yin, “Negotiating the Center: Towards an Asiacentric Feminist Communication Theory,” In Yoshitaka Miike (Ed.), New Frontiers in Asian Communication Theory (Special Issue), Journal of Multicultural Discourses, Vol. 4, No. 1, March 2009, pp. 75-88.
  14. ^ Molefi Kete Asante, The Afrocentric Idea (Rev. Ed.), Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1998, p. ix.
  15. ^ Molefi Kete Asante, An Afrocentric Manifesto: Toward an African Renaissance, Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2007, p. 8.