Ontologies of connection, reconstruction of memory
Jeremy C.A. Smith
emergent capitalism, which has been consubstantial with subsuming colonialism,
has transformed the meaning of the Pacific’s geography. Arif Dirlik is right
to highlight the discourse of the ‘Rim’ (1997: 129–45). But the discourse
is neither all-powerful, nor pervasive. The Pacific’s past is polycentric and
its forms of memory embrace connected centres, a continuous mythology
(both temporally and spatially), particular historicities and an unusual mode
of inter-culturalengagement. For critical generalisation to be possible, an
appreciation of this mode of engagement
(but see Smith, 2014c).
This chapter completes the in-depth studies of Part II. I have fathomed particular examples of inter-civilisational engagement. My survey includes oceanic civilisations, the Oceanian civilisation, Latin American movements of
political and culturalengagements and, finally, Japan’s exceptional encounter
with the West and instances of political and culturalengagement that ensued.
I have examined, to varying degrees in all cases, the four dimensions of inter-
civilisational engagement to support my critical synthesis of the illuminating
south of the United States, yet vitally enriched by many traditions. The neglect
of Latin America’s multi-civilisational history was not only the sin of Europeans.
The post-revolutionary technocratic state in Mexico was fanatically positivist. Its
investment in positivism left the state unreceptive to the many civilisational identities and influences that formed Mexico. His preference was culturalengagement.
Reyes responded to the aftermath of the 1910 revolution with caution, asserting culture over violence and
across dimensions of migration, economic movements and connections, culturalengagement and the political reconstruction of civilisational models.
Historical engagement entails dis-engagement also. The non-borrowings, dissonances and conflicts of civilisations are noted alongside cases of fragmentation and the collapse of large empires.
The outline of inter-civilisational engagement in Chapter 4 is broad in scope.
I pepper the argument with examples to illustrate key points. One aim of Debating
Civilisations is to sketch an