In the humanities and social sciences, area studies are interdisciplinary fields of research and scholarship pertaining to a particular geographical, political or cultural region. There is a strong tradition of doing area studies work in geography. Area studies geographers specialize and develop strong interdisciplinary analytical skills in one particular country or region. The field emphasizes synthesis, acknowledging interdependence of various components and actors within a region. While traditionally area studies tend to be descriptive, the present focus is analytical, with tools drawn from a variety of disciplines. In the increasingly globalized world, area studies provide a set of useful analytical skills and concepts for analyzing many trans-national and local processes as they happen in real and more concrete “local sites” within the United States or, much more often, outside the United States. Area studies also serve generally to raise the society’s and individual’s geographical literacy of the world.
Jackson School of International Studies