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Journal Articles Journal of Historical Sociology Year : 2021

Under Western Eyes?


Very few articles or chapters account for the history of sociology in Asia as a whole or for its inception from the late 19th century, especially in Japan, China and India. The following article, partly based on archival evidence, takes into consideration two important elements that bind together the various developments of sociology in Asia after World War II, namely calls for a better relevance of concepts and theories in order to fight academic colonialism, and strivings in the 1970s for the organization of an Asian sociological or social science organization. It will end with a short reflection and interrogation on the role of Asia in the world social science archipelago. 1 | INTRODUCTION Sociology was not invented in Asia. 1 If debates are still going on about the role played by the Arab writer Ibn Khaldūn (14th century C.E.) in the first developments of social science (Soyer & Gilbert, 2012; S .F. Alatas, 2014), the very word that is still today mostly recognized as being the identifier of the discipline was coined by the French author Auguste Comte 2 in the 1830s as sociologie (Heilbron, 1995), to be gradually translated in very close words in most European languages (sociology, Soziologie, sociología, sociologia in Italian and Portuguese) during the second half of the 19th century. In the Sinosphere, the situation was different and it has to be taken into consideration if one wants to get a proper idea of the meaning of society and sociology in the Eastern part of Asia, not only now or some decades ago, but more than one century ago. It should never be forgotten that sociology-with some scholars deliberately arguing with other Western or non-Western sociologist, or as a discipline-emerged in the late 19th century and developed more or less intensely in Japan, China, and India in the first half of the 20th century. According to the British anthropologist Maurice Freedman (1962, p. 113) "before the Second World War, outside north America and western Europe, China was the seat of the most flourishing sociology in the world, at least in respect of its intellectual quality." 3 Although the institutionalizing steps were not comparable and did not occur in the same periods of time (respectively in Japan, China, and India), these three countries represented important milestones in the history of the whole discipline (for Japan, see
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hal-04419813 , version 1 (01-02-2024)



Stéphane Dufoix. Under Western Eyes?: Elements for a Transnational and International History of Sociology in Asia (1960s–1980s). Journal of Historical Sociology, 2021, 34, pp.55 - 74. ⟨10.1111/johs.12319⟩. ⟨hal-04419813⟩
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