Towards Sustaining the Interdisciplinary Character of Area Studies Programmes in India
Area studies tradition has existed all through the period of history, with its main focus on providing a comprehensive understanding of the foreign lands/ area. Obviously, such a perspective seeks the participation of several disciplines, what came to be known as academic pluralism. This interdisciplinary orientation of Area Studies seeks co-ordination with a wide range of traditional disciplines in the domain of social sciences. In as much as the Area Studies being considered as the treasure of knowledge of the world regions, the Area Studies concept has of late found its place in the academic curriculum of universities. Area Studies programmes thus typify the principle of mutualism and serve as ‘laboratories’ for processing the ‘raw materials’ of discipline-based knowledge. But, on the contrary, the UGC (University Grants Commission) – sponsored Area Studies Centres in India have been confronting with a host of problems, on account of the conservative attitude of traditional disciplines characterized by aloofness, indifference, suspicion and resistance. The traditional disciplines which have bogged down in the crisis of intra-discipline specializations do scarcely subscribe to the much needed principle of commensalisms. As the much expected interdisciplinary cooperation is elusive, the research in Area Studies tends to centering on international politics and/or bilateral relations. As a faculty member of the Area Studies Centre in my own university and a member of the UGC Standing Advisory Committee on Area Studies Programme for three years, I have long innings of association with research trends and organization of Area Studies Programme in India. The resultant experience has often reminded me of the imperative need for conferring on the Area Studies Programme faculty status and institutional framework on the lines of other multidisciplinary catering to the multiple needs of the society and the nation at large.
Keywords: Academic Pluralism, Interdisciplinary Orientation, Traditional Disciplines, Intra-Discipline Specializations, Interdisciplinary Cooperation
Prof. Yagama Reddy Yadamuri
Professor, Centre for Southeast Asian & Pacific Studies, Sri Venkateswara University