Redesigning Area/Country Studies

Author: Kuijper, Hans
Journal: Journal of Globalization Studies. Volume 8, Number 2 / November 2017

Area/country studies like Turkology, Iranology, Indology, Sinology, Koreanology and Japanology are fundamentally flawed. They have an explanandum, but do not have a distinctive explanans. On the one hand, the practitioners of this kind of study tacitly claim to be knowledgeable about anything concerning the area or country of their interest (after all, Sinology is the study of China, just as sociology is the study of society). On the other hand, they reluctantly admit that it is impossible to be an expert on, say, the economy, polity and society of the country, given the prodigious amount of information available about these domains, the conflicting schools of thought, and the increasing awareness of the complexity of the world. The premises of this paper, meant to be also foundational to IR/Global Studies, are: (a) proper understanding of a country is only possible if a truly interdisciplinary approach is taken, and (b) the insights of computer, network and complex systems scientists could be profitably used in doing so. Rethinking area/country studies in a global context, the author concludes that the subject, being of great importance for international peace and security, should be high on the agenda of the higher-education discussion.

Keywords: area/country studies, scientific collaboration, computer science, systems science, higher education.