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Remaking Area Studies

Remaking Area Studies: Teaching and Learning across Asia and the Pacific

Terence Wesley-Smith
Jon Goss
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Remaking Area Studies
    Book Description:

    This collection identifies the challenges facing area studies as an organized intellectual project in this era of globalization, focusing in particular on conceptual issues and implications for pedagogical practice in Asia and the Pacific. The crisis in area studies is widely acknowledged; various prescriptions for solutions have been forthcoming, but few have also pursued practical applications of critical ideas for both teachers and students. Remaking Area Studies not only makes the case for more culturally sensitive and empowering forms of area studies, but indicates how these ideas can be translated into effective student-centered learning practices through the establishment of interactive regional learning communities. This pathbreaking work features original contributions from leading theorists of globalization and critics of area studies as practiced in the U.S. Essays in the first part of the book problematize the accepted categories of traditional area-making practices. Taken together, they provide an alternative conceptual framework for area studies that informs the subsequent contributions on pedagogical practices. To incorporate critical perspectives from the "areas studied," chapters examine the development of area studies programs in Japan and the Pacific Islands. Not surprisingly, given the lessons learned from critical examinations of area studies in the U.S., there are competing, state, institutional, and intellectual perspectives involved in each of these contexts that need to be taken into account before embarking on an interactive and collaborative area studies across Pacific Asia. Finally, area studies practitioners reflect on their experiences developing and teaching interactive, web-based courses linking classrooms in six universities located in Hawai‘i, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, New Zealand, and Fiji. These collaborative on-line teaching and learning initiatives were designed specifically to address some of the conceptual and theoretical concerns associated with the production and dissemination of contemporary area studies knowledge. Multiauthored chapters draw useful lessons for international collaborative learning in an era of globalization, both in terms of their successes and occasional failures. Uniquely combining theoretical, institutional, and practical perspectives across the Asia Pacific region, Remaking Area Studies contributes to a rethinking and reinvigorating of regional approaches to knowledge formation in higher education.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6053-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Terence Wesley-Smith and Jon Goss
  4. Introduction: Remaking Area Studies
    (pp. ix-xxviii)
    Jon Goss and Terence Wesley-Smith

    It is widely acknowledged that area studies, the dominant academic institution in the United States for research and teaching on America’s overseas “others,” is in the thralls of a fiscal and epistemological crisis. The prevailing mood of anxiety and uncertainty dates from the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989. At stake is the perceived relevance of area studies knowledge in a new, more intense phase of globalization characterized by diffuse challenges to the dominance of American economic and political power and the apparent erosion of the conceptual and spatial boundaries with which...

  5. Part One: Reshaping Area Studies in an Era of Globalization

    • [Part One: Introduction]
      (pp. 1-4)

      A sense of contemporary crisis in area studies can be ascribed to recent real shifts in the global geopolitical landscape engendered by the end of the Cold War, the (uneven) globalization of capitalist production, and various challenges to the sovereign power of the national state. However, the three chapters in this section together show that the apparently clear and fixed boundaries of the areas that we studied were always little more than arbitrary fictions convenient for instrumental purposes. Arif Dirlik points out, for example, that “there is nothing innocent about our spatializations of the world,” while Martin Lewis shows that...

    • Chapter 1 Asia Pacific Studies in an Age of Global Modernity
      (pp. 5-23)
      Arif Dirlik

      Two developments over the past decade provide the conditions for the reconsideration of area studies in general and Asian and Pacific studies in particular. One is the end of the Cold War, which in my mind includes not just the end of socialist states but also the end of colonialism in its modern forms, which had fueled the global revolutionary ferment that modernization discourse was intended to counter. As modernization discourse has become superfluous in tandem, so has the utility of spatializing the world into areas that were products of its Orientalist legacies, reinforced by post–World War II geopolitical...

    • Chapter 2 Remapping Area Knowledge: Beyond Global/Local
      (pp. 24-40)
      Neil Smith

      A good argument can be made that area studies emerged in the United States in part because of the weakness of that country’s academic geography by the 1940s. The instrumental need for knowledge of the postwar world, which largely drove the founding of area studies, was poorly served by U.S. geography. The situation was very different in Europe, where intellectuals fed institutions such as the Royal Geographical Society, the Società Geografica Italiana, the Société de Géographie de Paris, to name but three, and these societies were in turn the think tanks of national imperial ambition in the nineteenth and into...

    • Chapter 3 Locating Asia Pacific: The Politics and Practice of Global Division
      (pp. 41-66)
      Martin W. Lewis

      Our world is a complicated place, almost fantastically so. One could spend a lifetime learning the intricacies of global geography and still comprehend relatively little. Faced with such staggering complexity, the basic human reaction is to simplify and to schematize. The world is readily comprehensible, we tell ourselves, if we start at the global scale and make a handful of fundamental divisions. If one learns the resulting units, one supposedly gains a basic grasp of world geography.

      Thus, when first- or second-grade students are given their first lessons, they are typically presented with a world map partitioned into six or...

  6. Part Two: Perspectives from Asia and the Pacific

    • [Part Two: Introduction]
      (pp. 67-70)

      The four chapters in this section move us from theoretical and conceptual concerns surrounding the definitions of area studies and the boundaries of areas studied to more pragmatic issues involved in the institutionalization of area studies in the Asia Pacific region. What happens when area studies, which has its roots in Western neocolonialism and the Cold War, is imported and adapted within the very areas traditionally its object? What happens when we move from the center and acknowledge the voices of the periphery and semiperiphery of the “academic world system”?

      Lonny Carlile shows, for example, that the development of area...

    • Chapter 4 The Evolution of “Area Studies” in Japan: The Impact of Global Context and Institutional Setting
      (pp. 71-91)
      Lonny E. Carlile

      The evolution of “area studies” and its current status in Japan, though often overlooked, represents a useful frame of reference for discussing the dynamics of knowledge, power, and pedagogy in Asia Pacific Studies more generally. One basic reason is that Japan is a major site of knowledge production in the Asia Pacific region, and any mapping of such activities that fails to take this into account will be woefully incomplete. Also, Japan’s university system arguably represents the first full-fledged modern national institutional infrastructure of this type to develop outside of the West. Japan’s experience provides insight into the dynamics of...

    • Chapter 5 The Development of Asia Pacific Studies: A Case Study of Internationalization in Japanese Higher Education
      (pp. 92-109)
      Jeremy Eades

      This is primarily a practical rather than a theoretical chapter. At Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, where I currently teach, we are in the process of building up an area studies program that is not simply an add-on to an existing program or department, but the raison d’être of a whole university. In this chapter I want to discuss how this project fits in with the development of university education both in Japan and internationally, the problems of defining the Asia Pacific, and the related problems of implementing an Asia Pacific studies program at an international university in Japan.

      The point...

    • Chapter 6 For or Before an Asia Pacific Studies Agenda? Specifying Pacific Studies
      (pp. 110-124)
      Teresia K. Teaiwa

      What is Pacific Studies? In the scheme of area studies and interdisciplinary projects, Pacific Studies scholarship is small-fry. The size of Pacific Studies professional associations as well as the rate of citations of Pacific Studies publications in wider humanities and social science indices cannot compare to area studies of more populous or more strategic regions. In relation to “Asia Pacific Studies,” Pacific Studies—even if constituted by the substantial research and literature that exists on the Pacific islands region—would figure as a puny David next to the Goliath of Asian Studies, and the results of their encounter would be...

    • Chapter 7 Institutional Collaborations: People, Politics, Policy
      (pp. 125-140)
      Lily Kong

      The university is among the oldest and most durable institutions in the world, surviving more than nine hundred years. Up until relatively recently, universities were small institutions, catering to modest proportions of the general population. Educating the elite was the remit of universities. However, the reach, roles, and expectations of universities have changed, especially in the last century and a half. While universities still cater to a select group, in many societies the proportion of people with access to university education has grown. Further, whereas education was once the sole function of universities, research expectations appeared about 150 years ago,...

  7. Part Three: Asia Pacific Learning Communities

    • [Part Three: Introduction]
      (pp. 141-145)

      In this section, collaborators in theMoving Culturesproject discuss their experiences crossing the borders of traditional area studies through “virtual fieldwork.” These multiauthored chapters discuss versions of an experiment designed to address some issues of power and knowledge in contemporary area studies by taking area studies into the areas studied using technologies of asynchronous learning. Students in higher-education classrooms around the Asia Pacific region participated in online discussions and collaborated on assignments that thrust them into dialogical encounters with the other. They collectively undertook multidisciplinary and comparative analyses of processes of globalization in the distinct sites, with a particular...

    • Chapter 8 Traveling Cultures: Tourism and the Virtual Classroom in Hawai‘i and Singapore
      (pp. 146-163)
      T. C. Chang, Jon Goss and Christine R. Yano

      Virtual classrooms have been touted as the wave of the future, proffering access to information to a broad band of citizens unencumbered by specificities of time, space, and human embodiment. In this brave new world of cybernetic education, the idealized image is that of ideas and minds in a free, borderless exchange. Rich, Robinson, and Bednarz (2000, 266), for example, have argued that information and communication technologies “have the potential to underpin rich communications among staff and students from all parts of the world, support the exchange of ideas and information and, perhaps more importantly, provide alternative viewpoints and perspectives...

    • Chapter 9 Chinatown and the Virtual Classroom in Singapore and Hawai‘i
      (pp. 164-177)
      Lisa Law and Jon Goss

      The stated goal of the “Remaking Asia-Pacific Studies: Moving Cultures” project is to “develop an innovative pedagogy for area studies teaching and learning in an era of globalization” by establishing “multi-sited virtual classrooms [that] will take area studies to the areas studied, creating a collaborative pedagogy to apprehend situations that are at once transnational, transregional and intensely local” (Tanabe 1999, 1, 3). Our interpretation of this goal led to a web-based collaboration between students taking courses in geography at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa (UHM) on a comparative study of the Chinatowns...

    • Chapter 10 Salaam Mānoa, Aloha Mindanao: Creating a Student-Centered, Real-Time, Virtual Classroom
      (pp. 178-195)
      Conrado Balatbat, Hezekiah Concepcion, Gerard Finin and Ricardo Trimillos

      “Identity, Self-determination, and Conflict in the Asia Pacific Region: Mindanao and Hawai‘i” is an experimental upper-level undergraduate Asian Studies course. Internet resources provided the technological possibility and the pedagogical challenge for a collaborative educational endeavor simultaneously taught in two distant locations: the Ateneo de Zamboanga (ADZ), a broadly ecumenical private Jesuit university in the southern Philippines, and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa (UHM), a public land-grant institution in Hawai‘i. Our undertaking was part of the largerMoving Culturesproject of the School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies (SHAPS) at UHM, a Ford Foundation–funded initiative for remaking area...

    • Chapter 11 E-Learning and the Remaking of Pacific Studies: An Evolutionary Tale
      (pp. 196-210)
      Peter Hempenstall, Robert Nicole and Terence Wesley-Smith

      This is a report on an experiment that originated in the Ford Foundation–fundedMoving Culturesproject to remake Asia Pacific studies and evolved into the love child of a triangular relationship between institutions in the Pacific islands. The original idea was to try a new interactive teaching program across universities in the Pacific and Asia that would reconceptualize the meaning of “area studies” as it related to the Asia Pacific region.Moving Culturesset out to create an innovative pedagogy by using the Internet to link classrooms at the University of Hawai‘i with those at other regional universities. The...

  8. Epilogue: Remaking Asia Pacific Studies
    (pp. 211-224)
    Ricardo Trimillos

    This epilogue is a commentary that provides a series of frames for the material already presented by my colleagues. It considers ways in which their reflections and experiences, as well as mine, inform major issues of area studies and their pedagogies in the twenty-first century. I note that most of the foregoing chapters are collective in their presentation in that they are either co-authored or they present a synthesis of diverse sources and ideas. In contrast, my epilogue consists of an individual’s reflections and musings that claim space for the singular and an idiosyncratic voice in this volume.

    Although the...

  9. About the Contributors
    (pp. 225-230)
  10. Index
    (pp. 231-243)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 244-244)