Interregional Linkages in a Changing Global System
Edited by Peter W. Preston and Julie Gilson
Hans-Dieter Evers and Markus Kaiser INTRODUCTION: TWO CONTINENTS, ONE AREA 1 Europe and Asia: two continents, two civilizations, two vibrant economic zones, but one land mass, stretching from Madrid to Merauke, from Stockholm to Singapore, from Moscow to Madras, from Bonn to Beijing. You can buy a train ticket in Bielefeld to board a train for Beijing via Moscow or you can drive your car from Rome to Shanghai via Tashkent. The division of this vast area into two continents is a pure fiction of the human mind, a social and cultural construction of geographical space. The history of this division can be traced and historically explained, but still it is an imaginary, though powerful concept that draws boundaries and maintains distinctions. When Turkey applied for membership in the European Union it was at first rejected, officially on political (human rights) and economic grounds but it was alleged by the Turkish government, perhaps rightly, that some European politicians saw Europe as culturally distinct from an ‘Asian’ Turkey and therefore incompatible. The orientalist construction of an ‘Asian’ culture as distinct from a European civilization that reached its peak during the colonial period, where it served to legitimize imperialist expansion, has by no means subsided. Good ‘Asian values’ as distinct from deteriorated ‘Western values’ are more recent inventions, based on similar strings of argumentation - but pointing in the opposite direction. For the past two decades Malaysia, like most other ASEAN countries, has ‘looked East’ in search of Asian values, production techniques,...
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