Area Studies versus Disciplines: Towards an Interdisciplinary Country Approach

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The paper argues for a truly interdisciplinary area approach. At their very best, area/country studies are no more than multidisciplinary in character. Consisting of juxtaposed, not yet integrated partial studies, they are essentially disjointed. Providing the reader with a Humpty-Dumpty broken into bits, they are not compositions. As unity-in-variety and variety-in-unity are universally recognized as criteria of excellence, area studies should be gobelins, or banquets, not patchworks, or buffets. Having established that scientific collaboration is not only necessary but also valuable, the author proceeds with an examination of the impediments to interdisciplinarity occasionally brought forward, and then elaborates (probably for the first time) on the contributions that systems theory, (socio)cybernetics, complexity theory and the accelerating developments in computer science and information technology could make to area studies. Thinking through the teaming up of students who use to focus their attention on one or other aspect of a country, he also touches on the importance of comparative research. In ‘summary and conclusion’ area students are exhaustively categorized.


Keywords: Area Studies, Interdisciplinarity, Comparative Approach
Stream: Sociology, Geography
Presentation Type: Plenary Presentation in English
Paper: Area Studies versus Disciplines


Hans Kuijper

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Ref: I08P0920