Asia under Late Capitalism

A Refocus on Reality

Author: Toby Carroll


The hubris over the "rise of Asia" obscures the complexities, contradictions, and struggles that actually characterize the region. Given the economic tumult that has enveloped the West, it is not surprising that we find politicians, pundits, and market players enamored with Asia as a source of economic growth. However, this skewed reading of the region, which regularly dovetails neatly with self-interest and resurgent forms of nationalism, belies material realities. On this count, the region remains home to the majority of the world's poor, increasing levels of inequality and vulnerability (even within "the success stories"), social, political, and racial intolerance, and massive environmental degradation. Moreover, Asia's much-vaunted "charm" (often shorthand for the region's cultural, historical, and natural allure) has been seriously threatened by the accumulation at all costs of late capitalism. The author's photographic work over the past decade has attempted to grapple with and communicate some of these realities – a humble intervention to bring down to earth perceptions of the region in which he lives.

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