Rachel Murphy on the Global Future of China Studies
In the Western academy, the fields of China Studies and Sinology often fall under the category of “area studies” — a Cold War-era classification system that broke the world into various discrete regions, often with little regard to the cultural, economic, and social ties binding them together.
Increasingly, however, scholars within fields like South Asian studies; African studies; Russian, East European, and Eurasian studies; Latin American studies; and China studies are questioning the sensibility of this approach. Why should the study of China be siloed off from the study of sociology, economics, or history? And what place do scholars from around the world have in a largely Western-centric system of knowledge?
At this month’s World Conference on China Studies · Shanghai Forum, Rachel Murphy, a professor of Chinese Development and Society at the University of Oxford, explored the growing globalization of China studies, from the relationship between area studies and the social sciences to the rise of area studies within Chinese academia and China’s own desire to contribute to the field.