Modernization refers most commonly to the processes of societal and cultural transformations that came at different moments in various parts of the world. Industrialization, scientific and technological advancements, the concept of progress, and the establishment of capitalism are key characteristics. The neat affiliation between modernization and progress, however, is problematic and misleading; the upheaval and violence that modernization brought in various forms of colonialism needs to be understood and studied as social and cultural phenomena, through, for example, the drastic transformations to the physical environment, urbanization, poverty, and the exploitation of labor. A contemporary analogue may be the gentrification of urban neighborhoods. Modernization is more than updating “pre-modern” spaces and ways of life; it is a set of changes catalyzed by the modern values of industry and capital which has altered the cultural, economic, political, and material lives of people across the world in different ways, resulting in the states of inequity and environmental ruin that define our current moment.

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