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Abstract

The historical experiences and social realities of "non-western" societies as well as the theoretical discourses in and about them have been rather marginal to western sociology. Using the ideas of "shared histories" and "entangled modernities", this essay argues that an adequate theoretical reflection on the aporias of modernity requires transcending the intellectual division of labour within the social sciences. The present disciplinary boundary between sociology and socio-cultural anthropology is predicated on, and reproduces, the imperial division of the world in western/modern and non-western/traditional societies, and since the post-1945 era has relegated four fifths of humanity to the subdiscipline of sociology of development. Questionable in the 19th century and untenable at the end of the 20th, the dichotomy between "modern" and "traditional" societies has been deconstructed theoretically and transcended methodologically by recent studies in socio-cultural anthropology, and has been shown to be counter-productive by the development of multidisciplinary fields like historical anthropology, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies. Essential for a global social theory in the future should be the opening into a multi-perspective, polylogical research programme which accepts the non-western world's contemporaneous reality by not only including it as a site of research but by also taking it seriously as a place of reflexive theoretical knowledge production.

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