What are the possibilities for scholarship devoted to regions beyond the West in an academy still shaped by disciplines and concepts formed as part of the history of the West? The editorial board of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East (CSSAAME), which moved to a new home at Columbia University in 2012, posed this question in a mission statement published in our inaugural issue, volume 33, number 2.
Our concern with revisiting questions of knowledge formation came from the recognition that, over the last twenty years, the old paradigm that divided scholarly work into disciplines versus area studies had fallen apart. The social sciences turned the formalism of theory into a mode of knowledge that could travel anywhere, while the old imperial history was reborn as global history. CSSAAME is intended as a space for a different kind of scholarship.
We noted in the mission statement how the study of particular regions produces forms of knowledge that do more than simply challenge the concepts and theories produced within the experience of the West. They place in question the conventional distinction between theory or discipline on the one hand and region or area on the other. They invite us to consider the widening possibilities for innovative scholarship that turns the local and the translocal into sources of conceptual innovation and reflection, in ways that trouble the very notions of history, theory, discipline, and region.
In the previous issue of CSSAAME we published a number of responses to the questions posed in the editorial statement. In the following pages we publish a further series of reflections. The editors encourage those who are inspired by these questions to consider submitting their research for publication in the journal.
© 2013 by Duke University Press