Today, in a world characterized by the dispersion of the concentration of the productive forces, an increasingly multinational composition of global finance capital and its specialized class of handlers, it is relatively common to hear that the problems of “area studies” and its critique are no longer relevant. This argument tends to be made as follows. Area studies depended on a world characterized by the classic mid-twentieth century structures of alignment: the US-aligned world, the USSR-aligned world, the so-called nonaligned world, and so on. But, so this logic goes, today the world that is implied by this organizational schema itself no longer exists, and therefore the problem of area studies has ceased to be an essential target: it is a “remnant” that is “withering away.” But it is in fact exactly the opposite, that we will miss something crucial in the question of area studies if we imagine that it is no longer a problem for thought and politics simply because of the process of “globalization.” In fact, paradoxically, it is the current moment of the integration of the world in which the problem of area studies becomes most decisive.

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