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Origins and Barriers: Reflections on Subrahmanyam

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jats:pIt has been said that if completely known and understood, a historical phenomenon is therefore dead. Yet how perverse, so it might seem, that the scholarly revelation of the complex history of a powerful concept might therefore be taken as an argument that it should therefore be entirely abandoned. This is, of course, not Sanjay Subrahmanyam's conclusion about the notion of Asia. The choice he poses is not between one Asia or none, but between a singular and overarching universal and an unevenly connected plurality. However, further complementary questions might pose themselves. Under what conditions can this plurality and these connections become anything like objects of knowledge? And of whose knowledge? These are, perhaps, issues where historians of the sciences might contribute. It is a distressingly familiar theme among those historians that it has too often been supposed that a demonstration of the historical construction and variable functions of an object is to be understood somehow as a denial of that object's existence or value.</jats:p>



Asian literature, Asia, knowledge production, cross-cultural relations

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Modern Asian Studies

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Cambridge University Press (CUP)