Learning Places: The Afterlives of Area Studies

Front Cover
Masao Miyoshi, Harry Harootunian, Rey Chow
Duke University Press, 2002 M11 15 - 408 pages
Under globalization, the project of area studies and its relationship to the fields of cultural, ethnic, and gender studies has grown more complex and more in need of the rigorous reexamination that this volume and its distinguished contributors undertake. In the aftermath of World War II, area studies were created in large part to supply information on potential enemies of the United States. The essays in Learning Places argue, however, that the post–Cold War era has seen these programs largely degenerate into little more than public relations firms for the areas they research.
A tremendous amount of money flows—particularly within the sphere of East Asian studies, the contributors claim—from foreign agencies and governments to U.S. universities to underwrite courses on their histories and societies. In the process, this volume argues, such funds have gone beyond support to the wholesale subsidization of students in graduate programs, threatening the very integrity of research agendas. Native authority has been elevated to a position of primacy; Asian-born academics are presumed to be definitive commentators in Asian studies, for example. Area studies, the contributors believe, has outlived the original reason for its construction. The essays in this volume examine particular topics such as the development of cultural studies and hyphenated studies (such as African-American, Asian-American, Mexican-American) in the context of the failure of area studies, the corporatization of the contemporary university, the prehistory of postcolonial discourse, and the problematic impact of unformulated political goals on international activism.
Learning Places points to the necessity, the difficulty, and the possibility in higher education of breaking free from an entrenched Cold War narrative and making the study of a specific area part of the agenda of education generally. The book will appeal to all whose research has a local component, as well as to those interested in the future course of higher education generally.

Contributors. Paul A. Bové, Rey Chow, Bruce Cummings, James A. Fujii, Harry Harootunian, Masao Miyoshi, Tetsuo Najita, Richard H. Okada, Benita Parry, Moss Roberts, Bernard S. Silberman, Stefan Tanaka, Rob Wilson, Sylvia Yanagisako, Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.

Selected pages


Ivory Tower in Escrow
Andö ShöekiThe Forgotten Thinker in Japanese History
Objectivism and the Eradication of Critique in Japanese History
Issues of Pedagogy in Multiculturalism
A Discussion of Homi Bhabhas
Postcolonialitys UnconsciousArea Studies Desire
Asian Exclusion Acts
Areas Disciplines and Ethnicity
Forgetting Colonialism in the Magical Free Markets of the American Pacific
The State the Foundations and Area Studies during and after the Cold War
Japan and Social Science
Bad Karma in Asia
Modern Japanese Literary Studies in the Age of Cultural Studies
Disciplinary Boundaries and the Invention of the Scholarly Object

Can American Studies Be Area Studies?

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2002)

At the time of his death in 2009, Masao Miyoshi was Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego.

Harry Harootunian is Professor of East Asian Studies at New York University.

Bibliographic information