Topics in Philosophy

Boris Buden
Arts and Society, Cross-Disciplinary Strategies
2022W, scientific seminar (SEW), 4.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S04491


The birth of a discipline: Area Studies and its weird object.

Area Studies is a child of the Cold War. It was conceived in the United States after the WW2 out of collaboration between philanthropic foundations, the US government, universities, the military, and intelligence agencies. The idea behind the creation of this new type of interdisciplinary studies was generated by the need of the USA for knowledge to administer the growing number of populations falling under the sphere of American influence, in short, the need to rule over a significant part of the world. The result was a rapid institutionalization of a new geography of knowledge and power and, performatively, production of new spaces called areas. By 1966 in 34 major US universities emerged new infrastructures of training, research, and publication – the institutes of interdisciplinary, advanced degree-granting area studies. The new discipline divided the world in more or less boundable areas, supposedly united by social and cultural features, and understood as comparable and thus separable entities: North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Southeast Asia, And Australia and New Zeland. This division of the world created new maps of domination and exploitation, based on alleged scientific authority and objectivity.

The class will critically explore the political and ideological genealogy of the Area studies, its epistemological premises, and its impact on our perception of the world today.

Reading list:

Core text: Walker, Gavin and Sakai, Naoki, “The End of Area: A Genealogy of Area Studies”

positions 27:1 February 2019, Copyright 2019 by Duke University Press


- Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of

Nationalism. London: Verso.

- Deleuze, Gilles, and Felix Guattari. 1987. “Introduction: Rhizome.” In A Thousand Plateaus:

Capitalism and Schizophrenia, translated by Brian Massumi, 1 – 25. Minneapolis: University

of Minnesota Press.

- Fabian, Johannes. 1983. Time and the Other: How Anthropology Makes Its Object. New York:

Columbia University Press.

- Foucault, Michel. 2007. Security, Territory, Population, translated by Graham Burchell. London: Palgrave.

- Fukuyama, Francis. 2012. “The Future of History: Can Liberal Democracy Survive the

Decline of the Middle Class?” Foreign Affairs, January – February.


- Osborne, Peter. 1995. The Politics of Time: Modernity and Avant-Garde. London: Verso.

- Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. New York: Pantheon.

Examination Modalities

Consists in the active participation and contribution (discursive, textual and performative). The module grading is based on the mentioned contribution, active in-class participation, a presentation (10-15 min.) to be held during WS 2022, and submission of written assignments (700-1000 words).


“Students from other departments or universities will be given a place on the course subject to room capacities.

Key Words

area (studies), territory colonialism civilizational difference ideology power, knowledge, anthropology space and time


14 October 2022, 09:15–13:30 CDS Studio
17 January 2023, 13:45–18:00 CDS Studio
19 January 2023, 12:45–18:00 CDS Lecture Room
20 January 2023, 13:30–17:00 CDS Studio

Course Enrolment

Via online registration

co-registration: possible

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Master): Study Areas: Study Area 6: Transcultural Studies

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Master): Elective Field: only students without a bachelor's degree in CDS: from Study Areas 1-6

Cross-Disciplinary Strategies (Bachelor): Philosophy: Deepening / Application

Individual courses: possible