Panel on Modernism, Tradition and Eurocentrism
Presenters: Tung-Yi Kho, Tian Song
- (i) Modernism and Eurocentrism, which consists of the belief in the universality and superiority of modern industrial civilization, contain de-culturing effects that undermine the autonomy/self-sufficiency of communities.
- (ii) Modernism and Eurocentrism, by attempting to incorporate all societies throughout the globe into the modern industrial (capitalist) system, fosters an ethos of one against all in a war-generating competition for scarce resources.
- (iii) Modernism and Eurocentrism furnishes us with a vision of a utopia with ever increasing levels of wealth and material and technological progress. This illusory vision leads us to pursue it at all costs.
- (v) Modernism and its pursuit does not recognize the limits of the planet’s resources. Furthermore, it is wrongly believed that “Science” – modernism’s most esteemed knowledge form – and high technology will provide the solutions to such a problem.
- (vi) Scientific knowledge is regarded to be the superior and only universally legitimate knowledge system in the modern world. Its institution as the only legitimate form of knowledge leads inevitably to the marginalization and elimination of alternative, local knowledge and cultures.
B. We should let people know that:
- (i) Industrial civilization is not the only way for societies, and it is not the right way; it is simply unsustainable.
- (ii) The real problem is not how to “develop,” but how to halt such “development.” If we cannot stop the process of industrial civilization, human civilization might not survive itself.
- (iii) We need to revive a different type of civilization, an ecological civilization, in order to live harmoniously with others and with nature.
In order to overcome the pernicious de-culturing effects of Modernism and Eurocentrism, we propose through education to revive all forms of local/indigenous traditions and knowledge to inculcate in the young, an appreciation for the traditions of their ancestors. Examples: local song, dance, folktales, mythology, medicine and art etc. This can be done by creating opportunities to bring the young and elderly together to facilitate the inter-generational transfer and sharing of knowledge.
These can be pursued in less formal settings i.e. in the everydayness of ordinary living, as well as institutionally, i.e., through formal introduction into school syllabi, as well as the establishment of alternative educational spaces teaching place-based knowledge. Also, one could seek the production of alternative media emphasizing local knowledge and culture.
1. The fundamental way is education. We need to promote an education reformation, to make local knowledge a part of institutional educational systems, and to let local knowledge have as much legitimacy as that of modern knowledge.
2. Before we change the education system, we need to make use of all methods that may have an effect on the human mind, such as art, mass media.
3. We need to promote local government to establish local schools, teaching local knowledge in the schools.
4. We need to produce TV programs about local knowledge, and air them in local public TV channels.
5. We need to establish a prize, grant, or foundation, to support artists who promote the idea of an ecological civilization.
Means: to establish grants or foundations to support these initiatives.