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This chapter offers a set of reflections on the “crisis” of area studies in the post–cold war United States. Setting aside the institutional aspects of this crisis, it delves into the contingent and accidental ways by which practitioners of area studies in the United States encounter that which is foreign and distant, then seek to consolidate this encounter as an integral part of the intellectual and politico-ethical trajectory of their lives. In the personal accounts of those who have engaged in study of other places and peoples, we often hear stories of encounters with the foreign and experiences of suddenly...

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