The crisis in area studies and attempts to resolve it Cover Image

The crisis in area studies and attempts to resolve it

Author(s): Marcin F. Gawrycki
Subject(s): Politics / Political Sciences
Published by: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego
Keywords: historia; geneza; studia regionalne;

Summary/Abstract: Area studies – interdisciplinary studies of particular regions of the world – have been conducted since the end of the Second World War. They originated in the USA and quickly became popular in the western academic world. However, they were used as part of the ideological weaponry of the Cold War, and as a result they were sharply criticized after the fall of communism both in moral terms (considered as a tool of imperialism and neocolonialism), and with regard to their academic value as a research method. This article describes the history of area studies, the crisis which developed within the fi eld following the Cold War, and the attempts which have been made to resolve this. The author focuses on the development of new paradigms for area studies and analyzes area studies from the perspective of post-colonial criticism. As a case study he uses area studies on Latin America. The author also considers the future of area studies. In his view, a prerequisite for the discipline’s development is a radical change in how it treats non-European countries. There are four conditions that need to be fulfi lled in order to ensure that the area studies of these countries are free from previous distortions. Firstly, there needs to be a rejection of Eurocentrism as the starting point for studies of non-European countries. Secondly, interdisciplinary studies must be deepened, and this at a time when the boundaries between the various academic disciplines are becoming increasingly blurred. Thirdly, more emphasis should be placed on the comparative study of regions. The attempt should be made to draw universal conclusions from studies conducted on a given region, and related to other parts of the world. The posited correlations can then be checked to see if they indeed apply elsewhere and if the research fi ndings can actually be universalized. Fourthly, area studies should be protected by the principles of academic freedom, and should not be used as a tool in the hands of particular governments and business groups.

  • Issue Year: 40/2009
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 51-67
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: Polish