In his article "About the Canon of Scholarship in East Asian Ecocriticism" Hannes Bergthaller begins with the premise that ecocritical scholarship often locates the roots of environmental crisis in Western modernity and that it looks towards pre-modern or non-European traditions for a remedy. Bergthaller argues that such forms of cultural critique tend to reiterate a quintessentially modern gesture. Following Niklas Luhmann's account of culture, Bergthaller examines how these reiterations functions as a semantic mechanism for coping with the contingency of social forms. To describe a social practice as cultural, Bergthaller contends, is to valorize it as a marker of group identity and to highlight the fact that it could also be otherwise; moreover, to gauge the ecological relevance of cultural differences, these differences must be viewed against the background of modern world society, which has evolved structures that are largely indifferent to them. This insight is important for East Asian ecocriticism and Bergthaller's discussion contributes to the debate of the Western canon in East Asian ecocritical studies.
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