The Rise of Area Studies in the U.S.
At the dawn of the Second World War, universities in the United States had little in the way of "area" expertise for regions of the world outside North America and Europe. It was the war effort that led President Roosevelt to charge William Donovan with establishing an intelligence operation that resulted in the Research and Analysis Branch of the Office of Strategic Services. William Langer, a professor of Government at Harvard, recruited a variety of academics to serve on "area desks" to compile and analyze political, cultural, and social issues in regions including East Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America, as well as Europe (and specifically Germany) itself. Many of these academics went back to universities after the war with new forms of expertise to set up the area studies programs that were initially heavily funded by the government and major foundations. In this lecture I not only trace this history, but also discuss the implications for understanding the "strategic" nature of early area studies knowledge. I also raise questions about the subsequent relationship of area studies to the rise of interest in globalization in more recent years. About the speaker Professor Nicholas Dirks: Former Chancellor, University of California, Berkeley June 2013- July 2017 Professor of History and Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley This event is open to Tsinghua students, faculty and staff. Please present Tsinghua ID to access Schwarzman College. The lecture will be given in English.
Dalio Auditorium, Schwarzman College, Tsinghua University
Tsinghua University Schwarzman College
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