Age of Anger Themes

Pankaj Mishra
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Mimetic Rivalry

Mimetic rivalry is a recurring theme in Age of Anger, first introduced in “Clearing a Space: History’s Winners and Their Illusions,” which Mishra uses to explain the race to modernize among non-Western countries, part of their efforts to ‘catch up’ to Western dominance. Mimetic rivalry is described as a kind of inexplicable desire for something that somebody else has. “The reason is that he desires being, something he himself lacks and which some other person seems to possess,” says Mishra, “The subject thus looks to that other person to inform him of what he should desire in order to acquire that being” (77).

Clearly, the concept of mimetic rivalry is pertinent in the context of colonialism and the way in which non-Western colonized parts of the world viewed themselves in relation to their Western counterparts. The perception that Westerners had attained a level of ‘being’ that was...

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