Area Studies is the New Philology

Knowledge production continuously transforms alongside changes in society and technology. At times, however, societal and technological changes are so profound that forms of knowledge that had previously been considered of central importance get displaced by new ways of knowing.

We are currently living in such a time of profound social and technological change (think globalization and the Digital Revolution), and area studies is a realm of knowledge production that is losing its position of previously held importance.

Interestingly, were we to look back at the rise of area studies in the decades following World War II, another time of profound change (think decolonization and the Cold War), we would find that area studies at that time itself replaced an earlier way of investigating and knowing the world: philology (the study of literary texts).

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