Skip to content Skip to navigation

Tianxia Workshop: Takeuchi Yoshimi's 1960 Lecture on 'Asia as Method'

May 10, 2011 - 4:30pm
Philippines Conference Room, Encina Hall, 3rd Floor

CEAS Colloquium, Spring 2010-2011This talk is part of the Tianxia Workshop series

Kuan-Hsing Chen Professor in the Graduate Institute for Social Research and Cultural Studies, and the coordinator of Center for Asia-Pacific/ Cultural Studies, National Chiao Tung University

The purpose of this presentation is to revisit Takeuchi’s account of the knowledge production in his 1960 lecture on “Asia as Method” in terms of the present, identifying what has changed and unchanged over the past 50 years. In this lecture, we see how an important thinker of the Postwar Japan was deeply troubled by the intellectual conditions of his rime and attempted to imagine possible ways out. Simply put, Takeuchi’s method of critique operates outside the framework of the East and West, progressive and backward. He proposes to compare the modernization process of India, China and Japan, based on the more substantial argument that only by inter-referencing places which are closer to each other or share similar historical experiences, can we leave behind the mistake of “catching up/overtaking” type of the normative mode, and to produce strategic knowledge and critical understanding that comes closer to historical reality. Reading “Asia as Method” 50 years after its production, we discover that the current crisis of our conditions of knowledge has not gone beyond Takeuchi’s problematic. Intellectual circles in East Asia are still operating within the binary opposition between Euro-American theory and Asian reality. With the economic rise of India and China, “Asia as Method” has increasingly become a necessary intellectual demand. It is in this conjuncture of crisis (as well as the momentum for change) that we need to continue the critical spirit of Takeuchi to transform our present conditions of knowledge, even with the assumption that it may well be a hopeless project.


May 6-11, 2011Stanford UniversityThe workshop will gather together a small group of distinguished scholars to engage in sustained conversations on the theoretical implications and practical values of the traditional Chinese vision of world order, or tianxia (all under heaven). This vision anchors a universal authority in the moral, ritualistic, and aesthetic framework of a secular high culture, while providing social and moral criteria for assessing fair, humanitarian governance and proper social relations. Varied discourses indebted to tianxia have resurfaced in modern China in quest of moral and cultural ways of relating to and articulating an international society. We believe that the Chinese vision may prove productive in exploring possibilities of world culture and literature in the tension-ridden yet interconnected world. In this workshop, we will examine the ways in which Chinese thinkers and writers have envisioned China’s place in and as world history and its new responsibility in the interstate world system.The workshop is co-sponsored by the Confucius Institute, the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, the Center for East Asian Studies, and the School of Humanities and Sciences. Major funding is provided by Stanford’s Presidential Fund for Innovation in the Humanities.Schedule and more event details at: contact Carmen Suen for more information.

Free and open to the public.

Event Sponsor: 
Center for East Asian Studies, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: