Area Studies in the Age of Globalization

David Ludden

University of Pennsylvania


notes are endnotes

The production of area-specific knowledge about the world has no firm theoretical foundation. It seems to be an intellectual by-product of modern state territorialism and of those state-supported institutions of area studies which became prominent during the heyday of the nation state, in the decades between 1945 and 1990. Area studies in the university find their official justification in itself because they effectively serve disciplines, professions, business and national interests. The rationale for area studies for itself derives from the need to understand the diversity of human experience, which is increasingly embroiled in identity politics and debates about cultural pluralism. University administrators, legislators, and funding agencies now find the old rationale for area studies less compelling and institutional support for the production of area-specific knowledge depends more and more on its utility for academic globalization, as the university, like business and government, seeks to expand its operations around the world and to establish it own authority in global culture. Though scholars who produce area-specific knowledge are well endowed with talent and resources, they find it hard to adapt to this trend without sacrificing their old intellectual commitments, because they have such a weak theoretical justification for doing what they do. To sustain their enterprise, they need to theorize area-studies in relation to globalization. This is the first in a set of essays that work in that direction. It focuses on the institutional history of area studies in the long-term process of globalization.

Academic Institutions in the American World

Discussions at the Social Science Research Council about the need to reorganize area studies began several years before I joined the Joint Committee on South Asia of the SSRC and American Council of Learned Societies, in 1991. The immediate ground for debate was financial, but very soon, accounts of the state of the world entered debates about academic investment priorities, disciplines, and area studies. Since then, many analysts have used claims about contemporary world history to support contending positions in the funding wars that rage in academic institutions.

In the nineties, Mellon, MacArthur, and Ford foundations have funded formal discussions of the future of area studies in higher education, graduate training, and academic research; and budget cutting by the Congress has triggered intellectual efforts to protect government funding for international programs, specifically Title VI of the Education Act, which supports National Resource Centers and Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowships for graduate students. As arguments raged at the SSRC, I became a Title VI center director at Penn, an assistant script-writer for Title VI lobbyists on Capitol Hill, and a member of the Fulbright Senior Scholars advisory board, as the Fulbright Program faced budget cuts at the US Information Agency and a fifty-year evaluation of its education and training programs.1

All these institutions look at area studies from their own perspective. At the University of Pennsylvania, discussions have been dominated by zero-sum budgeting, and in 1994, at a Provost's forum on international studies, a dean said bluntly that if Title VI funding died, so would Penn's area studies programs. Since then, one new Title VI center has come into being with the deans' support and one old center has lost Title VI funding, putting the program deep jeopardy with the deans. Finance rules the roost. Universities are today most responsive market signals from funding agencies and donors, and from constituent demands broadcast by alumnae, students, and legislatures. At the SSRC, debates are more academic and they focus on forming arguments not only for getting funds but also for influencing the foundations, where people who have money to spend want to lead the academy and use their assets to develop national institutions of higher education, research, and training on desirable lines. Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Congress can only hear opportunistic political arguments to influence that mythical voter on Main Street, where federal funding for Hindi, Arabic, Korean, and Swahili must make sense to white bread America.

In each of these context of struggle over academic funding, accounts of the current state of the world have come to the fore in arguments about area studies. In each context, too, the target of attack has been the same, that is, existing levels of funding for established area studies programs. Direct federal funding for area studies (which is only a part of all the funding for international education, training, and exchange) totals around $60 million annually, and it is enhanced by old PL-480 allocations for the purchase of library materials. The federal dollars concentrate in the 115 or so National Resource Centers that are supported by Title VI grants, and which are spread around the country and attracting substantial additional funding from other sources as well. For instance, the South Asia program at Penn has an endowment that pays about 70% percent of the value of the Title VI center grant, thanks to the recent performance of the stock market. Graduate students who are supported during their first two years on FLAS funding are supported by other university sources for the rest of their studies. Books from South Asia constitute 12% of the total holdings of the main university library system. Nationally, all the biggest Title VI area studies centers for the study of African, Latin America, the Middle East, South Asia, and East and Southeast Asia have had similar success in raising funds and accumulating assets over the past fifty years.

Federal allocations that support this accumulation came under new critical scrutiny as the end of the cold war undermined the single most effective lobbyist argument in support of area studies on Capitol Hill. The military need for intelligence had always been the secret weapon for Title VI lobbyists -- and when Ronald Reagan tried to kill the Department of Education, Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense, protected international and area studies. Foundations which had never acknowledged the cold war character of area studies nevertheless responded quickly to events in 1989; and so did the SSRC, which for the first time openly stated that world politics does have an influence on the process of knowledge production in the academy.

The end of the cold war and quickening pace of globalization are now widely accepted as epoch markers that set off the 1990s from previous post-WW2 decades. At the SSRC, former Vice President Stanley Higgenbotham wrote several essays and many speeches to describe the implications of the end of the cold war, but discussions about the shape of the future have tended to focus more on the implications of globalization, perhaps to avoid the embarrassment of granting such heavy de facto, post hoc significance to the cold war. Globalization has become much more prominent in the American discourse about the world since the fall of the USSR. A lurking assumption appears to be that (US-led) globalization has no opposition, that this one process necessarily dominates the world in which US the academy is working today and will be working for as long as we can imagine into the future.

The historical moment in which we are now living is widely taken to be the start of a new era. How this attaches to millennial fantasies and to old-fashioned fin de siecle patterns of cultural production remains to be seen. Thomas Haskell recently captured our newest cliché about historical epochs by saying, "The bloody contest between capitalism and socialism unexpectedly came to an end in 1989 after a struggle that gripped the world for a century and a half."2 Eric Hobsbawm called 1989 the end of "the age of extremes," saying about the nineties (in the past tense) that "citizens of the fin de siecle tapped their way through the global fog that surrounded them, into the third millennium ... certain ... that an era of history had ended." "They knew very little else," he added, referring no doubt to his own grasp of recent history.3

Like many legislators and intellectuals, leaders at the SSRC and the Ford Foundation, , took all this to mean that new modes of knowledge production are needed. By 1989, the SSRC and ACLS had sustained about a dozen area studies joint committees for thirty years. These area-specific, multi-disciplinary committees of faculty representing US area studies used about half the SSRC operating budget to generate short-term grant income for conferences and research publications. Annual reports of the SSRC indicate that these committees had an impressive record of productivity and influence on area studies and the disciplines. The new critique came down from the SSRC president, David Featherman, who launched a strong disciplinary objection to area studies in general, saying that disciplinary social science was more universally applicable, globally useful, and thus more worthy of support than area studies after the end of the cold war. He argued against area studies in favor of "hard" social science of the sort that is based primarily in departments of economics, political science, and sociology, which use statistical data, formal models (often mathematical), and positivist, explanatory theory. He proposed reducing the power of the joint committees to allow the central administration to reallocate funds accordingly.

In 1996, the new SSRC president, Ken Prewitt, eliminated all the joint committees and the SSRC began to tap its way toward a new, looser structure of "regional advisory panels." He clearly favored more global forms of social science knowledge over the established configurations of area studies, and he opened up the Councils' options by pulling the plug on the old committees. In 1997, using Ford funding, the SSRC and ACLS held a joint meeting including more than a hundred advisory panel members from all the areas and disciplines represented by the two Councils, for the sole purpose of discussing the condition and future of area studies. The meeting began with a panel that described the current turning point in history from the vantage point of several disciplines and continents; and the emphasis fell upon the process of globalization and the current transformation of Eastern Europe and regions of the former Soviet Union. At the end of the meeting, area studies had survived critical scrutiny, not because existing programs were taken to be satisfactory but rather because participants repeatedly substantiated the continuing and future need for area-specific forms of knowledge in the social sciences and humanities.

The institutional outcome was mixed and uncertain -- and that is the current condition of area studies in the university. On Capitol Hill, Title VI, and all the Fulbright programs survived, though they are living under sharper financial pressure and political scrutiny. The SSRC built a loose, temporary structure of regional advisory panels and centralized financial decision-making which had been dispersed among joint committees. The main task at present is to internationalize collaborations within area studies in order to break it out of its old formation within the national territoriality of the US academy, in recognition of the increasing trend of internationalization within the scholarly community.4 The Ford Foundation has made similarly ambiguous moves, offering support for area studies and dismantling its budgetary identity in a more centralized administration -- more "streamlined" or "lean" in nineties corporate parlance. The announcement in The Chronicle of Higher Education is this:

The Ford Foundation, which has $9.2 billion in assets and awarded $350 million in grants during 1996, has abolished its regional directorships and consolidated its former eight programs into three. The three new programs include Peace and Social Justice, Asset Building and Community Development, and Education, Media, Arts and Culture. Ford president Susan V. Berresford, who was appointed in 1996, was instrumental in enacting the changes. Berresford believes that the foundation should devote more of its resources to supporting area studies programs and funding research into global issues.5

Globalization Swamps Area Studies

Political scientists have paid the most attention to David Featherman's argument to their discipline's relation to area studies, perhaps because the cold war had implicated their field most intensely, so that the new globalization presents more radical adjustments and potential dividends. Debates in PS: Political Science & Politics have focused particularly on the Middle East as an area for area studies6 and on the role of theory in comparative politics.7 Christopher Shea catches the tone of these debate when he used the headline, "Political scientists clash over value of area studies: theorists say that a focus on individual regions leads to work that is mushy."8

More generally in social science, however, an old opposition flared up between social scientists who support and oppose area studies. In the past, it had simmered at the boundaries of disciplines over questions of inter-disciplinary collaboration.9 Some attention fell upon the question of area-specificity itself,10 but in the new context of the 1990s, the opposition to area studies heated up and produced a novel outcome. Hard disciplinarians like Robert Bates began to argue that area studies did produce descriptive work whose diverse empirical data needed to be incorporated by universal theories in disciplinary methodologies; toward this end, he promoted rational choice theory in political science. On the other hand, cultural specialists like Arjun Appadurai argued that new transnational processes drew from and transformed patterns of life in every region of the world, so that we need to be understand areas in their specific particularity in order to comprehend the world; toward this end, he promotes an amalgam of anthropology, history, and cultural studies that is now prominent at the University of Chicago.11

Area studies thus entered the age of globalization. By 1992, three positions had come into being at the SSRC. Advocates of universal disciplinary knowledge opposed area-specific, inter-disciplinary knowledge and their interaction produced a new intellectual space for the formation of global knowledge that combines the universality of social science with the area-specificity of the humanities. This new form was dubbed "context-sensitive social science" at the SSRC -- global in reach, local in touch -- a place for the hard and soft social sciences to meet and to argue about area studies. Softer, more descriptive social sciences, especially history and anthropology, are most involved in area studies and in collaborations with the humanities and cultural studies; and they have been the most receptive to global formations of knowledge, which are now applied widely in world history and transnational cultural studies.

Scholars of universalizing social science continue to define theory and method in the disciplines, and they can now collaborate with (or at least tolerate) others who pursue those mushy, area-specific forms of inter-disciplinary knowledge, simply by agreeing that there is an emerging formation of global social science that includes a cultural studies agenda. This seems to be the framework within which Ford and SSRC propose to reconfigure area studies.

The new kind of knowledge has global reach without being imperialistic or domineering. It is international in its embrace and participation; and includes all the multi-cultural voices of race, class, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, and such. It combines the universal powers of empirical, deductive sciences with the critical powers and descriptive, interpretive subtlety of cultural studies. Global in its vision, arguments, and relevance, it is local in its data, application, and humanity. It keeps the classical humanities -- language and literature -- at one remove, however, because after all, it is defined in the form of a social science.

This global knowledge is not area studies and its attitude to area-specificity is utilitarian. It defines a domain outside area studies, encompassing area-specific knowledge, giving it new meaning and utility, so that area studies can participate in the global agenda. But global and globalization studies do not derive their theory from ideas about expansive or interactive sets of area-specific knowledge. They are new renditions of universalizing, Western science -- to anticipate my argument that they conceal an area-specific set of universal aspirations.

There remains, therefore, a disjuncture between area studies and global studies. Area-focused disciplinarians in history and anthropology (including folklore), for instance, can remain committed to area studies for itself, as they were in the old days, before 1989; but now their attention to global forms of knowledge -- to world history, global issues, or transnational processes -- ushers area studies in itself into this newly context-sensitized environment of social science, where disciplinarians who are actually hostile to area specific as an end in itself can accept area studies as a means to higher scientific ends.

This is a kind of environment in which Robert Bates and Arjun Appadurai can both participate because of a shared interest and involvement in globalization. Political scientist Ian Lustick has a Ford-funded workshop at Penn on "Problematics of Identities and States" that is good substantiation of the new science; and it is also a model for new SSRC collaborative research networks. Ian himself is a formalist and he becoming more attracted to mathematical models of ethnic identity; but his workshop provides a welcome home for all kinds of area-specific scholars; and Ian's own research draws on a number of disciplines that pertain to the study of the Middle East, though he does not want to be known as a Middle East area specialist.

Globalization and global studies agenda now dominate conversations about area studies in the university, and collectively, colleges and universities will need to reproduce all the forms of knowledge that mingle in globalized area studies, including language and cultural studies, though each university does not need to provide the entire bundle. Universities confront this challenge amidst a diverse set of financial considerations, which include market demand for each type of knowledge, and in hard money terms, professional schools, sciences, and undergraduate education most preoccupy the universities that must sustain area studies.

For professional schools and sciences, area studies at best describe sites for the application of their own practical brand of universal knowledge. Some regions of the world do have salience for the conduct of some sciences -- for instance, geology -- and there are many international scientific collaborations, some of which are funded alongside area studies in the Fulbright programs. Environmental scientists spend a lot of time in many world areas but they are not concerned with area-specific knowledge such as pertain to education and training in language and culture. We have scientists on the Fulbright senior scholars program advisory because work overseas is often useful for US scientists -- and humanizing science was part of the Senator's plan -- but we do not yet have people from business schools at Fulbright, though some business schools do receive support in their international efforts from the Department of Education. Penn's international studies Title VI program was located in the Wharton school, and the Lauder Program at Wharton represents one business school's use of area studies for training international business executives.

Compared to the social science and humanities disciplines that participate in area studies, professions and sciences command vast financial resources, which they control in a way that is actually hostile to the funding of area studies in and for itself; area-specific knowledge merely provides background knowledge and some useful tools for the pursuit of universal, practical disciplines. Professional schools do not need area-specific knowledge of the same kind that we need in the social sciences and the humanities; and they will not pay for its production. They might be willing to train students in language and area knowledge for their specific professional purposes, but nothing beyond that.

Similarly, social scientists who are context sensitive work in departments which are not; and they may want to incorporate area knowledge, produced by years of language training and work in the field by people for whom area-specific knowledge is the work of their lives. But social sciences want to use area knowledge more than to have it. In budget competitions, they will join the sciences and professions in their support of universal knowledge with global reach.

New needs for area studies knowledge are also coming from undergraduates who want ethnic studies, heritage studies, study abroad, comparative literature, women's studies, cultural studies and other new forms of international knowledge. All area studies programs benefit to some extent from this new demand on campus and they are seeking support from appropriate interest groups that are represented in their institution. For instance, Asian studies programs look for funding for new faculty from the Asian-American and Asian community in America, as African studies programs look for support from schools of medicine, nursing, and public health that are involved in research and training programs in Africa. Many undergraduates who seek heritage courses in Latin American or Indian studies are also pre-professionals who will work in a foreign country or two during the course of careers in the global economy. These are natural constituents for the institution of area studies within globalization.

Perhaps the most important shift represented by the globalization of area studies is the reduced role of the national state in its organization, finance, and ideology. The global agenda provides many new opportunities for area studies to serve the social sciences, business schools, public policy institutes, medical schools, NGOs, United Nations organizations, private enterprise, and governments. Universities are thus developing new support systems for area studies that cross the boundaries among schools and allow practitioners of all the disciplines to expand their powers to operate anywhere in the world. This has been happening for ten years, and many major area studies programs operate today inside multi-school institutes like those at Berkeley, Michigan, and Wisconsin, whose directors report to the Provost. Thus the centralization of area studies has been moving ahead at universities even longer than at the SSRC and Ford Foundation.

The New Globalism

The current institutional trend indicates that area-studies will develop to the extent that it makes a case for itself in the constellation of interests that converge on globalization. Global interests will not support area studies on their own account, because they are best opportunistic in their appreciation of area-specific knowledge and they will look to buy it anywhere as they weigh the cost of investing in its production. For agents and scholars of globalization, moreover, territoriality is odious; knowledge attached in and for itself to any specific territory is archaic and limited, low-tech and low-brow. Constraints on the flow of ideas and information constitute obstacles for globalism, and old fashioned area studies, like old fashioned states, obstruct the movement of knowledge across their borders.

The new globalism is trans-national, post-national, and it associates boundaries and territories of all kinds with old-fashioned confinement and limitation. The 1997 World Development Report instructs state elites on the management of their little bits of the world economy, but beyond that function, states seem unnecessary; and in globalization circles, the idea that a national state could be a moral guardian of national interests, identities, and well-being is clearly a thing of the past. This new world elite critique of the national state has joined an old chorus of leftist critics who have attacked the power of national states for decades -- a chorus that now includes Subaltern Studies and theories of post-development. A left critique that stripped away the state to liberate the little people in their localities has left them open to globalization; and Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities might appear to be saying that national states and identities are the legacy of a by-gone age when print capital fed the national imaginaire.

The entire host of intermediary territories that lie between the global and the local have disappeared in the discourse of globalism. This was the domain of area studies. In global circles, therefore, a musty, archaic odor accompanies area studies, and its traditional funding. Area-specific forms of knowledge seem to be constraints on intellectual mobility and global exchange.

The argument that there is an opposition between the single world of globalism and the many little territories of area studies conceals the territoriality of globalization itself and the historical position of area studies within it. A new home for area studies in a world of globalization will begin to emerge as we better understand the long historic interaction of area-specific knowledge and globalization.

Area studies programs in the US came into being to serve the globalization of America at mid-century, when the allocation of federal funds sought to increase American knowledge of world areas to improve the global conduct of US policy. National interests propelled area studies and globalization; they all supported one another. This "national" included government, business, foundations, and universities, which all began to globalize their understanding of America's world more strenuously after December 6, 1941. Global America had previously centered on Europe, though it also included East Asia and Latin America, and to a much lesser extent, territories of British and French imperialism in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. After 1945, a new global US view of the world spawned area studies.

But area-specific knowledge of the world did not begin with the cold war. It came along with modernity and it constituted not only nationality but also imperialism. From the eighteenth century enlightenment, imperial territorialism elevated scientific, universal knowledge which could encompass and comprehend all the narrow, traditional, partisan, and idiosyncratic forms of knowledge that preceded and contested modernity. Modern nationalism combined scientific, imperial knowledge with a populist hyper-enchantment of tradition to create a distinctively new kind of national claim to territories all over the world; and after World War Two, the earth was covered with national states for the first time. Divided among regions of culture, history, and political economy, this new world of national states provided a reality ground for the conceptualization and organization of area-specific knowledge. Knowing all the regions of the world became the key to globalization, which embraced national territories of culture and power that were the subject of area studies.

A big shift in the nation-state system would thus necessarily destabilize area studies, and so it did, after 1989. But this shift continued a process of globalization that was the big force at work in 1950 as much as was in 1990. Globalization could indeed be said to have begun long before 1492, and its actual pace has been faster at various times in the past than it is today -- for instance, in the 1880s. What is new today is not the fact of globalization but rather its recognition as a central historical process and utilization as a theoretical basis for efforts to reorganize knowledge and power in the world. As an ideological phenomenon, globalism is a geographical expression of European universal ambitions, which embrace area-specific knowledge for its global ends and rejects any form of area studies which would confound a comprehensive comprehension of its world. Globalization will obviously not provide a stable intellectual or institutional home for area studies scholarship.

Real Life in Global Territory

Though the US is the home of the new globalism, its intellectual life and culture is both isolationist and expansive, imperial and parochial. US public support for its worldwide war machine coexists with a small-town fetishism for an intensely local, face-to-face, peaceful, family-style, "we don't even lock the doors" kind of social order that US media call "the American way." Much the same could be said for the hometown cultures of British and French imperialism in the nineteenth century, when modern globalization got underway. Territoriality and globalization use one another, and imperial territorialism includes and even fosters its own opposition, at home and abroad. Questions about perspective, intention, experience, and participation in globalization emerged after World War Two, as they Americans entered the world of old empires, and area studies inherited all the complexities of global territory.

The term, "globalization,"

Globalization is an impersonal, objective process, unfolding out there in the world; but it is also a personal project for proponents of an integrated world economy and culture. Proponents of globalization as a project are also the leading experts on the process of globalization and the leading advocates of the globalization paradigm for the social sciences. People who are most adamant about the revolutionary implications of globalization for the production of knowledge are most prominent at central points in the expansion of global economic and cultural power, most of all in the US.

American images of a radically changing world in which Americans will take the lead have been popular for at least a century. Woodrow Wilson was of course a major figure. All along, however, expansionists have fought with isolationists, and dreams of the radically different future have had to face commitments to a conservative past. These conflicting cultural positions have characterized an objectively expanding American political economy, and we can seen them also in the cultural history of European imperial powers.

Specific opportunities and anxieties arise in the centers of globalizing power. Wide open opportunities beget anxiety about chaos and barbarism, which in turn justify national investments in global military and political power, as in Robert Kaplan's famous 1994 article in The Atlantic Monthly. More pervasive chaotic global movements that are described politically by J.Rosenau and culturally by Arjun Appadurai give the double impression that globalization has no direction, center, or guiding logic, and also that globalization is moving out from centers of international financial and media power according to the universal logic of business competition.13 The desire to find or make order in the chaos of the new world economy remains a pervasive theme that scholars of globalization address in various ways. Stephen Kobrin's forthcoming paper in the Journal of International Affairs, for instance, argues that we will need "some sort of authority at the center" of the new world system (p.27).

Where is the center of the world system? It appears to be somewhere in the international processes which lie behind the Uruguay Round of GATT, where the WTO was born, in 1995. David Korten argues that the WTO is already "the world's highest judicial and legislative body," which when it achieves full ratification will provide a means for any member country to challenge

at is the connection between the WTO and Main Street, USA? There is a serious disjuncture between the process and project of globalization and territorialities and communities that are formed at the national, regional, and local level; it needs to be sutured by area studies scholarship. One of the central regions of globalization in the contemporary world -- perhaps the central region -- the US, is occupied predominantly by forms of knowledge and consciousness that are distinctly hostile to and ignorant of globalization. US political discourse is territorial both in the expansive and the enclosed sense of that term. Knowledge in the university reflects that disjuncture and alienation, as pointed out brilliantly Jane C. Desmond and Virginia R. Dominguez, who describe the alienation of American Studies from Area Studies as an opposition of the study of the Self from the study of the Other.15

This opposition pertains within every national educational system, and also at lower levels of spatial order within the nested territories that comprise the real world of everyday life for most people in the world of globalization. Schools accentuate and institutionalize a personal sense of being a Texan or North Dakotan in America or a Tamil or Bengali in India. Shahid Amin has shown that in India, the village past occupies a place in the world of knowledge outside the national past.16 But Amin does not tell us that this separation is sanctioned by official knowledge that is sustained by government and by ruling elites, who in India, as in America, help to produce the localism and regionalism of political identity. Territory and community are not natural; and they are also socially stratified, so that some people participate both in the local and the global and occupy positions of leadership in regions of power, while other people live essentially trapped in local and regional forms that they identify as their own. All the world's territorial powers generate knowledge that both separate and connect people in the globalization process; but globalism as a form of knowledge only captures that small strand of activity and knowledge that pertains to expansive, free movements across the real boundaries within which most people live.

Institutions Fail

Little islands in the sea of American Studies of the Self which dominate the social sciences and humanities, area studies programs are weak, scattered enclaves. Their occupants have thus reacted quickly, if not wisely, to the challenges posed by the rising tide of globalization; they have had very little time or opportunity to reflect collectively on their condition; and to sustain themselves, they have had to run for the money. The programs came into being with national funding initiatives to address the needs of globalizing America. Once established, they depended on this funding and remained isolated from American studies of the Self. Their intellectual life became connected more to the external aspect of America than to its internal politics. As their role in US globalization diminished, they worked hard to sustain funding inside the universities and nationally. Some scholars have raised and strengthened dikes around their little enclaves of expertise. Others are shifting to American Studies of the Self by joining ethnic studies programs. Others are learning to swim the heady currents of the new globalism. The scattered inhabitants of all the little islands that constitute the archipelago of area studies are thus abandoning their territory because they do not see that their islands together constitute intellectually coherent, political space. Their institutions have failed to sustain the promise of area studies.

In the 1950s, a new set of funds were directed at the universities to give them a new interest in foreign languages and in foreign area studies. Social scientists who were already most involved in these fields of study-- historians, political scientists, sociologists, geographers, and anthropologists -- took advantage of this funding to link themselves with language and humanities programs. This produced an alliance between modernization theory and classical orientalism. The social sciences of modernization, development, state building, and cold war competition thus became allies for scholars of classical Chinese, Sanskrit, Hebrew, Persian, and Arabic who developed new modern language programs, strategically adding Japanese, Hindi, Tamil, Turkish, Vietnamese, Malay and the like according to the institutional profile of each institution.

In Asian and Middle East studies, classical languages retained their supremacy, however, and today, for instance, we have four full professors who specialize in Sanskrit at Penn, while all our modern South Asian language teaching is supported by untenurable faculty. By contrast, centers in Latin American Studies grew up around the interests inherited from a very old US engagement with its colonial territory to the south and from European language studies in Spanish and Portuguese. African studies and Southeast Asian studies were built virtually from scratch.

African studies was by far the most radical innovation, closely followed by Southeast Asian studies, because these new area studies fields had so little to build on within existing faculties when they were founded. They were least encumbered by alliances among old faculty interests in the classical and European languages, philology, orientalism, and literary studies.

Troubles over the relationship between area studies and the disciplines have arisen recently only in part from a national funding crisis (which has undermined many twentieth century institutions, including welfare systems and states around the world), but also, significantly, because the funding base for area studies must now move away from its dependence on external funding. Such funding will continue to benefit area studies, but all external funding agencies insist on more and more local institutional support, and universities do not conceptualize their own priorities within a collective of universities that must together produce a certain totality of knowledge. This collective conceptualization of universities in the nation lay behind federal funding; and it is gone. Now it would be up to the universities to reformulate some kind of collective image of themselves, so that each would contribute rationally to the national (or global?) process of knowledge production. Knowing their own place in the world of knowledge would be essential for this purpose.

Faced with shaky outside funding and seeking support locally in competition with the professions, sciences, and social sciences, area studies programs have demonstrated a gross intellectual inadequacy, which has further weakened their capacity to generate political support. The old institutions of area studies emerged from a set of opportunistic alliances cobbled together across disciplines and departments. These have been very productive -- and they still are -- but their intellectual output was has not been reinvested in the reproduction of intellectual capital for area studies. Arguments in favor of area-specific forms of knowledge have essentially remained opportunistic, tied to the rationale for the flow of funding from government and foundations. Thus when area studies were immediately challenged by the social sciences at the end of the cold war, the social sciences won, hands down, because area studies had no theory of itself for its self-protection, no intellectual mastery of its own fate.

Global forms of knowledge and their advocates will not generate the funding for area studies unless the necessity for area-specific knowledge is clearly and widely understood. But instead of building its own intellectual foundations in the university, the intellectual benefits of area studies have gone into the disciplines, including language teaching .

As area studies specialists have worked for local funding, for tenure, and for promotions in their disciplinary departments, they have also joined inter-disciplinary programs in ethnohistory, comparative literature, women's studies, Afro-American studies, ethnic studies, and transnational cultural studies, which do not define themselves by area, but by the intersection of disciplines. One of the critical arguments for area studies program -- that they provide a productive space for inter-disciplinary collaboration -- has been usurped by other inter-disciplinary programs. The institutions of area studies -- and the process and logic of area-specific knowledge production -- have not been intellectually reinvented or theoretically reinvested with the creative energies of scholars who were trained in area studies programs.

Some scholars have maintained their institutional and personal interest in their own particular area studies territory. African Studies in particular has paid attention to its own legacy of productivity. But the volume on Africa and the Disciplines, published strategically in 1993, has no analogue for other world areas; it expresses a specifically African studies intelligence and interest. It does not seek to provide a theory or intellectual rationale for area-specific knowledge or for area studies in general.

There is no theory of area studies or of area-specific knowledge, only a set of institutional, personal, and fragmented disciplinary, market, and professional interests that converge chaotically on questions of funding. The organizations that should have taken the lead in forming a broad theoretical basis for area studies -- the associations: ASA, AAS, LASA, and MESA -- have done nothing except tout the importance of their own world area, which in the case of African studies has included exceptional efforts to theorize connections across world areas -- most particularly with Latin America, but also, to a lesser extent, Asia.17 But this kind of cross-area work has for the most part been a project within the disciplines of history and anthropology or an effort to increase the vitality of one area studies project by drawing upon its relations with others.

Scholars working within their own disciplines and across disciplines, and to some extent, across areas, area studies scholars have transformed the substance of area-specific knowledge very substantially in the last twenty years. But divided by discipline and by their separately institutionalized area studies interests, they have not bothered even to describe, let alone to theorize, area-specific knowledge as such. When their funding is threatened, institutional interests retreat into a competitive defense of their own area studies program, drawing upon the competitive strength of their faculties and departments. A broadly based theory for area studies that would make sense of the historical development of area-specific forms of knowledge would require a kind of collaboration that does not yet exist.

A Site for Area Studies

Area studies presents an academic counterpoint to globalization and a critical perspective on the new globalism. Area-specific knowledge can that seriously that specifically American combination of rustic parochial isolationism and elite imperial expansionism -- it is not merely a feature of globalization but a also a breeding ground for new global theories and anxieties, at the approach of the millennium.

Globalization is site-specific, as each region of the world constitutes the center of its own global experience. Area studies scholarship articulates diversity and territoriality in the changing world of globalization.

The SSRC solution to the problem of reorganizing area studies is thus a logical one: the Council is working to internationalize area-specific scholarship and to extract area studies from its American moorings. Putting globalization in the perspective of all the various regions of the world, rather than seeing it as a single process -- implicitly centered in the capitals of global enterprise -- reveals a vast patchwork of world territories which have been both increasingly integrated and differentiated during the long history of globalization. Europe, Africa, and China assumed their modern identity as world regions during the process of globalization.

Old conventional wisdom holds that globalization has been driven by European expansion. Between 1917 and 1989, bipolar images of a "world of extremes" kept that conventional wisdom in place by generating an image of a globe torn between two opposing European options, communism and capitalism. A more complex landscape of cultural difference and historical differentiation is now coming into view, because bi-polarity is dead and people from all world regions now participate in many global discourses, which run the gamut from eco-feminism and human rights law to arms control and structural adjustment. Non-European contributions to modernity and the world economy are becoming more apparent.

In this new landscape of world history, some regions and groups are clearly more powerful than others. Some people and regions have more to gain from globalization. In much of the world, globalization is fearsome and hated. In general, it is seen as being distinctly American, and much of its guiding ideology and imagery today is made in the USA.18

Area studies represents an academic articulation of globalization and territoriality outside America. Area studies institutions in the US began with the official intention of furthering US power in each world area, but they have moved well beyond that old project with the expansion of world academic networks and with the arrival in the US of scholars from every part of the world who now form the cutting edge of area studies. World area studies are now domesticated inside the US by the global participation of scholars who take their own native regions of cultural difference and experience very seriously. At the same time, many American scholars have become partially expatriated by their constant travels and studies in other countries, which they feel seriously, as foreigners, to be home.

In world territories of knowledge and experience, boundaries of difference are widely understood as being permanent and necessary. The regional languages and literature's of the world are not dying out. Despite the influence of Hollywood, there are many times more films produced in Indian languages than in English, and they circulate throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Southeast Asia, as well as in the US. Most of the world does not speak or read any global language. Three quarters of the world population speak non-European languages and most global intellectuals are at least bilingual, because no one global language is enough, and never will be. National states produce the world's currencies, protect private property, sustain capital accumulation, and regulate financial markets. The World Bank's World Development Report, 1997 says that national states are essential for the world economy. Many forces that drive these states operate primarily inside their borders. The well-stamped passport is the sign of a global citizen, who at every stop feels the scrutiny of a serious state.

Global intellectuals move among world regions of cultures and states. Globalizing disciplines represent their common language. Area studies embrace the fact that most global citizens live in territories where the local language is not global and will never be. Globalization has always sustained regional difference and particularism, as it does on Main Street, USA.

An appreciation of the multiplicity of sites from which world-changing circulatory processes have emanated historically needs to be at the center of any effort to reconceptualize area studies. In this context, the West is not a single site but rather a set of localities lumped together variously amidst a circulation of elements that emanate from various other places. Where does the reification of "the West" or "Europe and the US" as a single force in world history come from? What is the location of this theory? Certainly it is enshrined in American social sciences and area studies. It needs some serious reconsideration.

Globalization is perhaps best defined as a process of multiplication in the number of sites in which circulatory movements intersect and from which circulatory movements emanate. More sites produce expanding circles of rippling waves that intersect at more sites over time. The waves that spread out from Europe were not unitary or determining of historical outcomes. They provoked local emanations elsewhere, which hit European sites from all directions.

But modern globalization needs also be understood as a project within capitalism, as a universalization of capitalist competition, and as a process of European expansion. Defining the term only by the spreading of Western capitalist power is inappropriate, but the spreading influence of multiple sites in the world over other sites proceeded after 1492 with the increasing power of Western peoples and capitalist countries over the peoples and resources of the earth. Globalization is not only a process but also a project, an ideology, and its operations need to be understood in the context of other processes and projects. There is already a critical literature on the globalization project, which indicates that it should not be assumed to provide the intellectual basis for academic studies of the world at the end of this century. Herman Daly put the matter simply in his farewell address to the World Bank in 1994: "Cosmopolitan globalism weakens national boundaries and the power of national and subnational communities, while strengthening the relative power of transnational corporations."19

If students in each part of the world are going to understand their real "place" in the world, they need to understand that national borders are zones of tension amidst global circulatory process that change all kinds of boundaries. Getting out of the US mentality into the competing and various formations of territory, space, locality, region, and identity that define the world of ethnicity and medicine might be a good way to begin expanding the scope of area studies and collaborations among area studies programs in the context of globalization.

See Fulbright at Fifty, the report of the National Humanities Center Steering Committee on the Future of the Fulbright Educational Exchange Program, July, 1997.
Thomas L. Haskell, "The New Aristocracy," New York Review of Books, December 4, 1997, p.47, reviewing Elliott A. Krause, Death of the Guilds: Professions, States, and the Advance of Capitalism, 1930 to the Present, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1997.
Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 1914-1991, Vintage, new York, 1996 (first edition, 1994).
"Internationalization of the Social Sciences and Humanities: Report on an ACLS/SSRC meeting, April 4-6, 1997," by Itty Abraham and Ronald Kassimir, Items, 51, 23, June-September, 1997.
5 (Internet abstract) Joye Mercer, "The Ford Foundation shifts its focus and structure," The Chronicle of Higher Education, 43, 49, August 15, 1997, A29-30.
James A. Bill, "Comparative Middle East politics: still in search of theory," PS: Political Science & Politics, 27, 3, September 1994, 518-19. Jerrold D. Green, "The politics of Middle East politics," PS: Political Science & Politics, 27, 3, September 1994, 27, 3, 517-519.
Robert H. Bates, "Area studies and the discipline: a useful controversy?" PS: Political Science & Politics, 30, 2, June 1997, 166-170. Chalmers Johnson, "Preconception vs. observation, or the contributions of Rational Choice Theory and area studies to contemporary political science," PS: Political Science & Politics, 30, 2, June 1997, 170-4. Ian S. Lustick, "The disciplines of political science: studying the culture of rational choice as a case in point," PS: Political Science & Politics, 30, 2, June 1997,175-9.
The Chronicle of Higher Education, 43, 8, January 10, 1997, 13-14.
9 Richard D. Lambert, "Blurring the disciplinary boundaries: area studies in the United States. (Special Issue: Social Knowledge: Balancing Specialization and Integration) American Behavioral Scientist, 33, 6, July-August 1990. 712-33.

10 See for instance the series of articles on each world area of area studies in Society, 22, May-June 1985; and James A. Bill, "Area Studies and Theory-Building in Comparative Politics: A Stocktaking." PS: Political Science & Politics, 18, Fall, 1985:.810-12

11 Liz McMillen, "A new cadre at Chicago, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 42, 28, A10-11. Internet abstract:

Peter Hall and Sidney Tarrow, "Globalization and Area Studies: When is too wide too narrow?, SSRC working paper, nd (1997), p.1.
13 J.Rosenau, Turbulence in World Politics: A Theory of Change and Continuity, Princeton, 1990; and Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minneapolis, 1996.

14 David C. Korten, When Corporations Rule the World, Earthscan Publishers, London, 1995, p.174
15 "Resituating American studies in a critical internationalism," American Quarterly, 48, 3, September 1996, 475-91.

16 Shahid Amin, Event, Metaphor, Memory: Chauri Chaura, 1992-1996, Delhi, Oxford University Press, 1996.
See the Confronting Historical Paradigms volume and Fred Cooper's development conferences, and Frederick Cooper, "Conflict and Connections: Rethinking Colonial African History," American Historical Review, December 1994, 99, 5, 1516-1545
See Anthony King, Editor, Culture, Globalization, and the World-System: Contemporary Conditions for the Representation of Identity, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1997.
19 Quoted in Korten, When Corporations Rule, p.173