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Where is Asia? What is the Pacific?: The Politics and Practice of Global Division

Front Cover of Remaking Area Studies
University of Hawaii Press
Apr 2010

“Where is Asia?  What is the Pacific?:  The Politics and Practice of Global Division.” In Terence Wesley-Smith and Jon Goss, eds., Remaking Area Studies: New Perspectives on Learning Asia-Pacific. University of Hawaii Press.

Summary of Remaking Area Studies: New Perspectives on Learning Asia-Pacific

This collection identifies the challenges facing area studies as an organized intellectual project in this era of globalization, focusing in particular on conceptual issues and implications for pedagogical practice in Asia and the Pacific. The crisis in area studies is widely acknowledged; various prescriptions for solutions have been forthcoming, but few have also pursued practical applications of critical ideas for both teachers and students. Remaking Area Studies not only makes the case for more culturally sensitive and empowering forms of area studies, but indicates how these ideas can be translated into effective student-centered learning practices through the establishment of interactive regional learning communities.

This pathbreaking work features original contributions from leading theorists of globalization and critics of area studies as practiced in the U.S. Essays in the first part of the book problematize the accepted categories of traditional area-making practices. Taken together, they provide an alternative conceptual framework for area studies that informs the subsequent contributions on pedagogical practices. To incorporate critical perspectives from the "areas studied," chapters examine the development of area studies programs in Japan and the Pacific Islands. Not surprisingly, given the lessons learned from critical examinations of area studies in the U.S., there are competing, state, institutional, and intellectual perspectives involved in each of these contexts that need to be taken into account before embarking on an interactive and collaborative area studies across Pacific Asia.

Finally, area studies practitioners reflect on their experiences developing and teaching interactive, web-based courses linking classrooms in six universities located in Hawai‘i, Singapore, the Philippines, Japan, New Zealand, and Fiji. These collaborative on-line teaching and learning initiatives were designed specifically to address some of the conceptual and theoretical concerns associated with the production and dissemination of contemporary area studies knowledge. Multiauthored chapters draw useful lessons for international collaborative learning in an era of globalization, both in terms of their successes and occasional failures.

Uniquely combining theoretical, institutional, and practical perspectives across the Asia Pacific region, Remaking Area Studies contributes to a rethinking and reinvigorating of regional approaches to knowledge formation in higher education.