Methods in transregional studies

Intercultural transfers

Authored by: Antje Dietze , Matthias Middell

The Routledge Handbook of Transregional Studies

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138718364
eBook ISBN: 9780429438233
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429438233-7

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Abstract

A fully developed set of methods often define a well-established discipline. It is therefore no wonder that transregional studies, being in its infant stages and continuously exposed to serious quarrels about its subject, are not yet at the point where such a complete methodology is available. This has to do with at least three points:

(1) Area studies, on which transregional perspectives are based to a great degree, took different pathways in their development – depending on the place and national academic context. Through this development, area studies came under the influence of anthropology, social sciences, or history. In some cases, these intellectual inspirations came together in a coordinated way, but more often than not area studies have presented themselves as mixtum compositum with a large and rather unorganized toolkit in which contrasting disciplinary approaches remain unreconciled.

(2) Transregional studies are part of a broader intellectual movement, starting from the assumption that interactions between societies are no less important and influential than those within societies. This assumption clashes with what previous social science research emphasized, namely a national framework of analysis. As a consequence, methodological nationalism came under critique and a space opened for increasingly nuanced investigations of border-crossing and border-transcending phenomena.

(3) Such interactions across the boundaries of seemingly stable spatial entities (territories) drew additional inspiration from the spatial turn that taught researchers to see space as the product of human interaction. Therefore, transregional studies research has investigated such intersocietal interaction not as occurring between fixed entities but, on the contrary, as producing new spatial constellations. However, since methods have often been developed in reference to particular spatial frameworks, the discovery and analysis of new spatial formats remain difficult tasks.

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