New Area Studies, Scientific Communities and Knowledge Production
In his commentary, Boike Rehbein questions the hegemony that the Global North maintains over the theory and philosophy of science and calls for an epistemological and disciplinary reinvention. The scientific discourse needs to move away from binaries such as global–national and universalism–relativism, as they are misleading in their exclusivity. Rather, Rehbein calls for a multicentric epistemology informed by local sources, perspectives and theories. Area Studies is identified as a key arena of such an epistemological shift, reinventing itself by becoming increasingly comparative and translocal in scope, as well as inter-/trans- or multidisciplinary. In this context, the values and challenges of cooperation in Area Studies are highlighted. Ahsan Kamal praises Rehbein’s approach as a concrete contribution to decolonising Area Studies and knowledge production, but urges a constant questioning of the location of the North and South, the authenticity of what is deemed the “local”, and the beneficiaries of this new form of knowledge production. Manan Ahmed Asif considers that despite progress being made and Rehbein’s approach having important ethical value, colonialism is still deeply inscribed in Area Studies, as the Global North continues to control the material, financial and organisational resources.
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