It is sometimes claimed that area studies is not independent of the racism that characterizes the modern world. This article attempts to examine this claimed association between area studies and racism. But what sort of configuration of social positions and social dynamics do we suggest by racism in the production of knowledge in the humanities and social sciences? Above all else, racism must be apprehended as a structure of the modern world, and it is necessary to understand how it serves to repeatedly confirm the anthropological difference between European humanity and the rest of humanity. The separation of the West (often synonymous with Europe) from the Rest of the world originates in the modern international world, whose internationality was initially confined to Western Europe. In the western promontory of the Eurasian continent, interstate equilibrium was sought after in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries when the conquest of the Americas was underway; this politics of regulated interstate rivalry gave rise to international law and the politics of internationality. The discourse of the-West-and-the-Rest was formed and routinized against this historical background. Area studies is a direct offshoot of this discursive formation, even though it was introduced to American higher education only much later after World War II. How the West can be separated from the Rest, how this process of separation can be repeatedly performed, and how the postulation of an area can be implicated in this assertion of anthropological difference, these are three main questions pursued in this article.
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Naoki Sakai; The Regime of Separation and the Performativity of Area. positions 1 February 2019; 27 (1): 241–279. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10679847-7251910
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