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Theories of Area Studies Professor Kyu Young Lee Development of Area Studies: Origin, Lineages and Postwar Period as an Academic Discipline September 31, 2007 Sogang GSIS by Jee Eun Chung, Seo Jun Oh, Kang Seung Hee Plan • I What is Area Studies? • II History of Area Studies • III Critiques on Area Studies – Politically biased origin – Limitation of theory making – Ambiguous disciplinary position – Globalization and disappearing areas • IV Future Development • V Conclusion I. What is Area Study • Area Study as Form of Translation: “an enterprise seeking to know, analyze, and interpret foreign cultures through MULTIDISCIPLINARY LENS.” (Tansman) • Lost in translation by ethnocentrism – Goal of Area Study is to deparochialize US and EuroCentric hegemony in humanities and social science disciplines. – Area Studies specialist have been doing this by replacing pre-existing US and Euro-centric theories with new kinds of data, questions, and insights that are more sensitive to cultural and historical context of locals. I. What is Area Study • Therefore, Area Study is cover term for: – – – – 1. Intensive language study 2. In-depth field research in local language 3. Focusing on local histories, materials, and interpretations 4. Testing elaborating, critiquing or developing grounded theories based on detailed observation – 5. Multidisciplinary conversations crossing the boundaries of social sciences and humanities. * * It is important to understand Area Studies as an academic discipline in its historical context in which it developed in dynamics of political, intellectual, and institutional tensions especially in US universities. II. History of Area Studies • In the 18C - differentiation of generic interest in social inquiry began to seem important. • The differentiation on three principal cleavages. • 1) past/present between “idiographic” history and the “nomothetic” social sciences • 2) West/non-West • 3) State-market-civil society • 1943 lack of “regional” experts was due to the second cleavage. Since Traditional ethnography sought to reconstitute the timeless patterns of the peoples prior to “culture contact” with the Western World and Oriental studies focused on “high civilizations” which were frozen historically. • World War II The US Army conducted “area training programs” of Foreign Area and Language Curricula covering geography and anthropology • The characteristic of Area Studies before Cold War is well presented in the Robert B. Hall’s 1947 SSRC report • “The war brought acceleration in and enthusiasm for area studies… • Nevertheless, much of the effect of the war was harmful to a sound development of area studies, rather than beneficial. • However, the army experience did serve nonetheless as a portent • The army was reflecting the pragmatic concerns of the extra-university sponsors. However, the training was not very helpful since it lacked the contemporary dynamics of areas • Cold war • The purpose of Area Studies during Cold War in the U.S. • - To promote Economic, political, and cultural relations among nations • - to understand the functioning of those that already had communist regimes and to help prevent other areas from “falling into the hands of the communists” • => By the end of 1945, the priorities had become the Soviet Union and China • => Area Studies, a discipline initiated by government? • arguments for Area Studies • geopolitical reason : The universities have an obligation to the nation • Area studies would repair the fact that the social sciences “lack universality.” • The Objectives of Area Study were those of all social science, “namely the development of a universal and general science of society and of human behavior.” – because, first of all area study calls for cooperation among the various disciplines of the social sciences – Teamwork is absolutely necessary since no single person, or even science or discipline, is capable of dealing with the complexities of the culture and environment of an area • However, there were challenges to the Area Studies – financial implications of overcoming campus opposition to Area studies – according to 1952, UNESCO’s International Social Science Bulletin, Area Studies is less a contribution to the “science of society” than to the pursuit of foreign policy. By the 1950s, however, area studies had become well instituted in U,S, universities with the support coming from major foundations ex. Rockefeller, Ford Foundation, and numerous Fellowships, etc. The Soviet Union, by launching the first Sputnik in 1957 prompted US government to pass the National Defence Education Act which aided Area Studies Centres in the U,S, • According to Richard D. Lambert’s SSRC Survey of 1973, - Spectacular growth in Area Studies as seen in the following – broadening of curricular – increase of numbers of programs, students, specialists, courses, enrollment, – Research has become theoretically and methodologically more sophisticated – many cross-disciplinary specializations are developing largely in non-west context – centers serving as a repository of expertise – important recruitment source for the foreign affairs agencies – training of current employees • 1970s The objectives of area studies, began confused debate in the 1970s. There were also emergence of a new form of “area studies”, • Immanuel Wallerstein argues that they are variants of area studies because - they too tended to be multidisciplinary and - their subject matter could neither be studied ahistorically nor be studied by simple application of universalizing social science. • While the 1945-1970 area studies were top down enterprise, the tide turned bottom up approach through new studies like women’s studies. • From 1980s and 1990s, there has been explosion of new programs in a period of increasing financial squeeze. III. The Critiques of Area Studies 1. Politically biased Origin of Area Study • During the WWII and Postwar period, area specialists trained in Ivy League schools became intelligent analysts in the Office of Strategic Service (OSS) and helped train officers for overseas commands and postwar occupation forces. III. The Critiques of Area Studies • Area study for governmental needs, mainly for expanding US hegemony on world politics. – During the cold war period, US realized that in order to assist economical development and political stability of foreign countries as well as to expand the political influence against Soviet Union, it is essential to have culturally and historically contextualized knowledge of that nations. – Major source of funding for Area Study was governmental agencies including CIA. III. The Critiques of Area Studies 1. Was it a simple political effort to “Know your enemy? 2. Does Area Study is an institutionalized form of discipline for generating knowledge for “national interest?” 3. With the collapse of Soviet Union and the end of Cold War, is Area Study now obsolete? - Curning’s Article Boundary Displacement: Area Studies and International Studies during and after the Cold War (1) Area and international studies in the Early cold war • The deeply involvement of the CIA and the FBI in Area and international studies • FBI checks the credit records of academics, monitors their lectures, and seeks out reliable campus informants. • Take over a project which the CIA wanted done to receive funding. 2) Area and international studies after the Cold war ->Area and international studies is out of control of the CIA and the FBI. Instead, both studies are under the Defense Intelligence College. ->focus on learning a variety of languages and cultures and studying nations. And also, the political economy becomes more important due to globalization. ->Not only state funding but also foundation funding. Response to Critiques (Szanton) – This kind of critique is inaccurate for at least last 40 year’s history of discipline. – From 1950’s private foundations such as Fulbright foundation or Foreign Area Fellowship Program (FAFP) by Ford Foundation have become major source of funding for Area Studies. – Scholars benefited by these funds developed their study free from governmental need or “national interest”, and in fact triggered intellectual dissent against governmental policy • e.g. Cuba, Latin America, Vietnamese war. Response to Critiques (Szanton) - Area Studies have broadened and took much more varied intellectual and research agendas, debates, and trajectories. • e.g. Katherine Gibson in Papua New Guinea - Area Study is not the only discipline affected by political perspectives. • Michel Foucault: political power and generation of knowledge are inevitably entwined. • All the scholars in social science and humanistic research are influenced by their own political position and commitment. III The Critiques of Area Studies 2. Limitations of Theory Building – Area Study as “ideographic”, primarily concerned with description, as opposed to the theory building and generalizing character of social science. – Views Area Studies as a source of data and information, useful for developing more universal theories in the disciplines with broader vision. – Gordon’s Review Gordon: Rethinking Area Studies, Once more Response to the Critique (Szanton) • There is no reason to believe that Area Study is less theory-driven and contributed less to the development of new theories in social sciences and humanities. - Drake and Hilbink: “data collection and theory development are inextricably intertwined and interactive. - Fact is always impregnated with theory and theory is impregnated with observed experience so the fact derived from the Area Study will be a combination of fact and theory rather than a mere fact. Response to the Critique (Szanton) • What matters is not the presence or absence of theory, but what kind of theory is being used. – Although it could be more implicit and modest than the ambitious theories in other disciplines in social sciences, area study scholars elaborate, confirm, and test the theories which could make sense to the relationships among the elements of society, such as a poem, a history, or a literature. III Critiques of Area Studies 3. Ambiguous Position within the Discipline – In the academic domain, disciplinary departments traditionally have power to give tenure, promote research agendas and curricula, and to decide what can be published or not. • Departments become the unit of competition for the resources of the university. – Traditionally, academic department and intellectual discipline are mutually defining terms. – But the multidisciplinary nature of Area Study makes the discipline extremely difficult to find appropriate categories or subjects in the department of social science and humanities. • Timothy Mitchell: resulting tensions and contradiction have created the “Crisis in the disciplines”. Timothy Mitchell’s Deterritorialization and Social Science • Territorialization of Social Science from the onset of 20th Century • From the Early 20C, universities began to be divided into separate social science departments in the US. • By late 20C, professionalization of the social sciences took off including the claims to scientific authority that could be built on exclusive territorial control of new theoretical objects. But they also registered and contributed to a broader political and intellectual change: the nationalization of social knowledge. • As professional political and academic knowledge came to see the world as a series of nation-states, it also came to imagine it to consist of series of discrete national economies, societies, cultures, and histories. • Deterritorialization and Social Science • After World War II, in an attempt to develop the study of non-Western areas in the US, territorial disciplines of social science presented both a problem and an opportunity. • On one hand, the division of social analysis into the separate study of the economy, political system, culture, and society which had seemed more straightforward for the study of the US did not always seem appropriate for the study of the backward regions of the non-West. • On the other hand, this problem paradoxically revealed the new importance of area studies to the development of the social science to integrate different disciplines to be combined into what Talcott Parsons called “a total structure of scientific knowledge.” • The compartmentization of discipline led to the territorialization of discipline • The inability of culture, the state, the economy, or society to survive as a distinct territories of social scientific investigation – what one might call the deterritorialization of the disciplines- reflects and interacts with another deterritorialization, that of globalization. • However, transnational forces and identities are said to be one of the major factors placing the future of Area Studies in question. • Political science is in an unusual position. A dominant coalition within the discipline seeks the intellectual certainty and professional authority of a universal knowledge of politics. • Challenge to Area Studies • The crisis of area studies is related to the academic disciplines. Area studies scholars are told to get back together with their disciplinary partners and accepting their authority. • Therefore, the future of area studies lies in their ability to refuse the disciplinary claim to universality and the particular place this claim assigns to area. • Since the 1970s, the disciplines gradually have had to abandon the attempt to define themselves by laying claim to academic sovereignty over a particular area of social reality. • Significance of Area Studies • provide the detailed knowledge of exotic regions required to universalize the science of politics. • to this project of universalization was the increased recognition of cultural relativity or the acknowledgement of cultural differences in the social sciences. • serve as a testing ground for the universalization of the social sciences. Response to the Critique (Szanton) • New forms of knowledge call for new structures of knowledge generation – Direct challenge to traditional intellectual and organizational boundaries. • Area study should demonstrate that there are important forms of knowledge that require interdisciplinary collaboration which the traditional disciplines are unlikely to produce on their own. • Must maintain productive tension between discipline and area studies – Area Study need disciplines for the concepts and methods which can contribute to understand and translate another society or culture. – Disciplines need Area Study specialists to challenge their US or Eurocentric assumption. III Critiques of Area Studies 4. Globalization and disappearing locals. • Globalization is diminishing the uniqueness of dynamics of localities, erasing boundaries, and forcing homogenization of localities, cultures, and social and economic practices. • Concern on specificity or peculiarity of local is fading way. Response to the Critique (Szanton) • Area Study have to expand their unit of analysis beyond the level of nation state and geographical proximity. – Variety of transnational Diaspora and network is emphasizing the importance of new social and cultural formations cross-cutting previous nation state and area boundaries. • e.g. Al-Qaeda, transnational terrorist network – More comparative and thematic research across areas should be encouraged to help determine how different and interconnected the areas really are. IV. Future Development 1. Expand the interest to Diaspora - stop focusing on nation state as primary actor and unit of international analysis. 2. Collaboration with insiders is essential for studying global and transnational phenomenon. - Fieldwork based on the collaboration between insiders and outsiders can provide much fuller and analytically rich accounts of other societies. *Case study by Katherine Gibsion J-K Gibson Graham: Area Studies After Post Culturalism • Katherine Gibson’s (KG) fieldwork was designed as a response to the Postculturalism. – Postculturalism has tendency to distrust fieldwork, seeing it as a form of colonization. – Postculturalism put capitalism as an economic standard for understanding all economic activities. Globalization discourse performed the task of harnessing ecomonic difference and specificity into capitalist hegemony. • But this capitalocentric viewpoint strengthened the euro-centrism by depriving economic autonomy of everything that is not capitalism. • Goal of KG’s fieldwork was to find new horizon of Area Studies by deconstructing capitalism and constructing the diverse economy in local community of Papua New Guinea (PNG). – Tried to examine non-capitalist, non-market activity which was largely ignored from conventional economic accounts. • e.g. household and voluntary sector, gift economy – Area Studies as a rich resource for the theorization, observation, and enactment of economic difference. • Mama Lus Fruit Scheme – During the harvest, 14% of oil-palm bunch, which is the major source of income in PNG, ends up as loose fruit. – They could be an excellent source for oil palm mills because of higher oil content. – Mama Lus Fruit Scheme introduced mama card which can remunerate women who engaged in collecting loose fruits. – Now 3200 women are engaged in this business and those women are now claiming up to 26% of total income generated by oil-palm production. – Increased income was used for consumption items, increased mobility, schooling fees, gambling, and gift exchange. Interpreting Mama Lus Fruit • Women involved in Mama Lus Fruit are selling products to capitalist firm and satisfying consumption desires with their newfound income. – Can be seen as capitalism pushing aside or subordinating other practices and identities • But women also use their extra income to support traditional gift exchange that can sustain clan identity and cultivate community. • PNG case study shows us that the knowledge in area grow the economic benefits of both capital and small sector. It was focus toward difference (non-capitalist economy) rather than dominance (capitalist economy) – As a result it reduced domestic violence and contributed to the local welfare. • Area Study is the disciplinary domain that has developed and preserved fieldwork as a productive technology, and it has to be appreciated for its potential generativity. V. Conclusion • What are the challenges to the area studies? • What could be the biggest challenges for area studies among the four critiques mentioned by Szanton? • Why do we need area studies?