Contemporary civilisational analysis has emerged in the post-Cold War period as a forming but already controversial field of scholarship. This book focuses on the scholarship produced in this field since the 1970s. It begins with anthropological axioms posited by Ibn Khaldun, Simon Bolivar and George Pachymeres. Three conceptual images of civilisations are prominent in the field. First, civilisations are conceived as socio-cultural units, entities or blocs in an 'integrationist' image. They emerge out of long-term uneven historical processes. Finally, in a 'relational' image civilisations are believed to gain definition and institute developmental patterns through inter-societal and inter-cultural encounters. The book traces the history of semantic developments of the notions of 'civilisation' and 'civilisations' coextensive with the expansion of Europe's empires and consubstantial with colonialism. Early modernities are more important in the long formation of capitalism. Outlining the conceptual framework of inter-civilisational engagement, the book analytically plots the ties instituted by human imaginaries across four dimensions of inter-civilisational engagement. It also interrogates the relationship between oceans, seas and civilisations. Oceanian civilisation exhibits patterns of deep engagement and connection. Though damaged, Pacific cultures have invoked their own counter-imaginary in closer proximity to past islander experiences. Collective memory provides resources for coping with critical issues. The book also explores Latin American and Japanese experiences that shed light on the engagement of civilisations, applying the model of inter-civilisational engagement to modern perspectives in culture and the arts, politics, theology and political economy.
agenda in civilisational analysis that will operate more closely at the intersection
of past and present.
Intersections of past and present
Debating Civilisations began with anthropological axioms posited by Ibn Khaldun,
SimonBolivar and George Pachymeres. Each axiom alludes to perceptions of
deep connectivity that pre-date processes of modern globalisation. The three
extracts in another way are anecdotes of inter-civilisational engagement pre-
dating the global age, which is one of the problems I pose and unpack in the book.
The argument I have supported, that
and form from each other.
(SimonBolivar, cited in Bolivar, 2009: 87)
Sailing is a noble thing … it joins together men [sic] from different lands, and makes
every inhospitable island a part of the mainland, it brings fresh knowledge to those
who sail, it refines manners, it brings concord and civilisation to men [sic], it consolidates their nature by bringing together all that is most human in them.
(George Pachymeres, cited in Paine, 2013: 599)
Khaldun, Bolivar and Pachymeres point to specific notions of civilisation.
They stress, respectively, the human creation