This module deals with the conceptual, theoretical and methodological challenges of researching area studies. Indicative content includes defining area studies, understanding the history of area studies, definitions, theoretical frameworks, key issues and themes, introduction to social science disciplines, multi- and inter-disciplinarity, comparative methods in area studies.
Aims and Objectives
Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:
- Appreciate the value of multi- and inter-disciplinarity and the differences between them
- Design a research project in area studies, recognising philosophical, theoretical and methodological demands and constraints
- Recognise the value of different disciplinary approaches and theoretical frameworks in addressing research problems
- Understand the origins and history of area studies
- Make informed choices about research design in area studies
- What is area studies? What is an area? What is a region? What is a border? Exploring the practice of naming and making areas. What is the role of language in defining an area? What is local/regional/global?
- The history of area studies; the cold war context; the colonial/post-colonial dimension; recent developments in area studies – e.g.: exploring the capacity of this approach to dismantle ethnocentrism.
- Introduction to the social science disciplines that inform and are applied by area studies research, their theoretical assumptions and methodological possibilities, what distinguishes them from each other: politics, IR, history, anthropology, sociology, economics, cultural studies.
- Interdisciplinarity: how is it different from multi-disciplinarity and trans-disciplinarity/cross-disciplinary study? What is the potential for being inter-/multi-/cross-disciplinary in your research? What are the limitations?
Theoretical frameworks: Which ones are available, how to choose an appropriate one for the purposes of the research, how to ensure some theoretical grounding for the argument. To include inter alia:
- Discourse analysis and critical discourse analysis.
- Discourses and processes through which borders are defined and challenged, globalisation and the challenges to borders – e.g. the process of Europeanisation and resistance to this process; the ‘Latinisation’ of South America and the resistance to this process, etc.
- The colonial and debates around the post-colonial/postcolonial; their implications for area studies.
- The transnational vs. the comparative vs. the national approach to history and politics; the implications for area studies.
- Narratives and story-telling in language-based area studies.
Key issues and themes in area studies (coverage will vary from year to year, depending on students’ specialist areas of interest)
Key regions and countries studied by area studies. Importance of historical contextualisation, especially given the colonial, post-colonial background of many of the areas covered in area studies. Comparative regionalism.
Key themes: Development; nation and identity; class; citizenship and discrimination; governance; security.
Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning methods
- Multi-disciplinary lectures
- Topic specific seminars
- Independent study
|Completion of assessment task||40|
|Preparation for scheduled sessions||67|
|Wider reading or practice||60|
|Total study time||200|
Resources & Reading list
Edith CLOWES & Shelly Jarrett BROMBERG (eds.) (2016). Area Studies in the Global Age: Community, Place, Identity. eKalb: Northern Illinois University Press.
This is how we’ll formally assess what you have learned in this module.
This is how we’ll assess you if you don’t meet the criteria to pass this module.
Repeat type: Internal & External