Locating inter-Asian dialogues
Mary E. JOHN
As the editorial statement encapsulates, the very forces of globalization following the breakdown of the Cold War, “have opened up a unique moment for dialogues within Asia and internationally.” It would seem, therefore, that the journal has been made possible by a constitutive event—the “rise of Asia” as a new geo-political region and discourse within a reconfigured world system. While it is of course true that these developments are constantly shifting and uneven, we are presented with the picture of a new power bloc, challenging prior constellations of western hegemony and imperialism. But has this meant the end of older colonial structures and, especially, of their mentalities? Something has surely changed when, in the speeches of the new American President, the children of India and China make their appearance—not in the familiar language of third world poverty and hunger—but rather as smarter and better educated, and hence posing a threat to US global leadership. I have argued elsewhere that we now not only live in the wake of the collapse of the “second world” with the end of the Cold War, but in that of the “Third World” as well. It is less commonly acknowledged that the global ascent of Asia has been intrinsic to the demise of the “Third World”, as it was understood within a politics of non-alignment and shared economic exploitation within global capitalism and neo-colonialism, all of which in its time brought together nations from Africa, Asia and Latin America. The economic “miracles” of East and South-East Asia, China’s market socialism, the prior petro-dollar boom of West Asia, new patterns of migration, a flourishing popular culture within the region, among others, in contrast to the sense of deep and pervasive crisis emanating from nations within sub-Saharan Africa, represent developments that have robbed the Third World of its erstwhile meanings (John 2007).
Mary E. John is Senior Fellow and Director at Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi.