Mediterranean Model for Asian Regionalism: Cosmopolitan Cities and Nation-States in Asia, A
Thomas P. Rohlen
Shorenstein APARC, page(s): 50
What can be said about the social and cultural characteristics of the Asian region as a whole? Are there, for example, traditional similarities that unify the region—something one might label “Asian culture”? Various scholars have seen an Asian-ness in such things as the way authority has been understood in the region 1 or, even more typically, they point to the Confucian heritage common to China and the nations on its periphery as a unifying characteristic. 2 At least one contemporary Asian leader, Mahathir Mohamad, prime minister of Malaysia, has argued for the legitimacy of a distinctly Asian approach to politics and society, one that is at odds with what he infers is a Western cultural hegemony in such matters. 3 Others, certainly the majority of scholars, have expressed skepticism with any interpretive framework that has attempted to embrace the entire region in cultural terms. Are there other ways to think of cultural connections that are not based in traditions or in religious, linguistic, historical, or other origins? Or is the initial question itself misplaced?