Pub. Date:
Duke University Press Books
Learning Places: The Afterlives of Area Studies

Learning Places: The Afterlives of Area Studies

by Masao MiyoshiMasao Miyoshi
Current price is , Original price is $30.95. You

Temporarily Out of Stock Online

Please check back later for updated availability.


Under globalization, the project of area studies and its relationship to the fields of cultural, ethnic, and gender studies has grown more complex and more in need of the rigorous reexamination that this volume and its distinguished contributors undertake. In the aftermath of World War II, area studies were created in large part to supply information on potential enemies of the United States. The essays in Learning Places argue, however, that the post-Cold War era has seen these programs largely degenerate into little more than public relations firms for the areas they research.
A tremendous amount of money flows-particularly within the sphere of East Asian studies, the contributors claim-from foreign agencies and governments to U.S. universities to underwrite courses on their histories and societies. In the process, this volume argues, such funds have gone beyond support to the wholesale subsidization of students in graduate programs, threatening the very integrity of research agendas. Native authority has been elevated to a position of primacy; Asian-born academics are presumed to be definitive commentators in Asian studies, for example. Area studies, the contributors believe, has outlived the original reason for its construction. The essays in this volume examine particular topics such as the development of cultural studies and hyphenated studies (such as African-American, Asian-American, Mexican-American) in the context of the failure of area studies, the corporatization of the contemporary university, the prehistory of postcolonial discourse, and the problematic impact of unformulated political goals on international activism.
Learning Places points to the necessity, the difficulty, and the possibility in higher education of breaking free from an entrenched Cold War narrative and making the study of a specific area part of the agenda of education generally. The book will appeal to all whose research has a local component, as well as to those interested in the future course of higher education generally.

Contributors. Paul A. Bové, Rey Chow, Bruce Cummings, James A. Fujii, Harry Harootunian, Masao Miyoshi, Tetsuo Najita, Richard H. Okada, Benita Parry, Moss Roberts, Bernard S. Silberman, Stefan Tanaka, Rob Wilson, Sylvia Yanagisako, Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780822328407
Publisher: Duke University Press Books
Publication date: 11/15/2002
Series: Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society Series
Pages: 422
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

About the Author

At the time of his death in 2009, Masao Miyoshi was Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego.

Harry Harootunian is Professor of East Asian Studies at New York University.

Read an Excerpt

Learning places

The afterlives of area studies
By Masao Miyoshi

Duke University Press

ISBN: 0-8223-2840-2

Chapter One

Ivory Tower in Escrow Masao Miyoshi

Higher education is undergoing a rapid sea change. Everyone knows and senses it, but few try to comprehend its scope or imagine its future. This two-part essay makes some guesses by observing recent events and recalling the bygone past. In the first part I describe the quickening conversion of learning into intellectual property and of the university into the global corporation in today's research universities in the United States-and, increasingly, everywhere else. Part 2 puzzles over the failure of the humanities at this moment as a supposed agency of criticism and intervention.

The Conversion of Learning into Intellectual Property

Richard C. Atkinson, the president of the University of California since 1995, has repeatedly sought to identify the role of the world's largest research university. As he sees it, the goal of today's research university is to build an alliance with industries: "The program works like this. A UC researcher joins with a scientist or engineer from a private company to develop a research proposal. A panel of experts drawn from industry and academia selects the best projects for funding." I Thus, although university research encompasses "basic research, applied research, and development," basic research, now called "curiosity research ...driven by a sheer interest in the phenomena," is justified only because "it may reach the stage where there is potential for application and accordingly a need for applied research." Development-that is, industrial utility-is the principal objective of the research university.

In another short essay titled "Universities and the Knowledge-Based Economy," Atkinson remarks that "universities like Cambridge University and other European universities almost all take the view that university research should be divorced from any contact with the private sector." In contrast to this "culture that eschewed commercial incentives," there has always been in the United States "a tendency to build bridges between universities and industry." This is the background, as he sees it, of places such as Silicon Valley and Route 128, and he proceeds to claim that one in four American biotech companies is in the vicinity of a University of California campus, and that 40 percent of Californian biotech companies, including three of the world's largest, Amgen, Chiron, and Genetech, were started by UC scientists.

How does this marketized university protect its academic integrity? Atkinson is confident: "Our experience over the last fifteen years or so has taught us a great deal about safeguarding the freedom to publish research findings, avoiding possible conflicts of interest and in general protecting the university's academic atmosphere and the free rein that faculty and students have to pursue what is of interest to them." The issue of academic freedom-as well as the conflict of interest and commitment-is in fact complex and treacherous in today's entrepreneurial university, as we will see later. However, in this essay, written soon after he took office, Atkinson dismisses academic freedom as an already resolved negotiation between "academic atmosphere" and personal interest, and he has not touched the subject again since.

Like most university administrators today, Atkinson makes no extensive educational policy statement, not to say a full articulation of his educational views and thoughts, most announcements being scattered among truncated speeches or op-ed pieces. The days of Robert M. Hutchins and Derek Bok, never mind Wilhelm von Humboldt and John Henry Newman, are long gone. It is thus perfectly understandable, if somewhat disquieting to a few, that he should give minimally short shrift to research in the humanities and social sciences in the university.

According to Atkinson, the university does have another role as "the shaper of character, a critic of values, a guardian of culture," but that is in "education and scholarship," which presumably are wholly distinct activities from serious research and development. He thus pays tributes, in his Pullias Lecture at the University of Southern California, to only one specific example each from the two divisions of human knowledge. As for the social sciences, he mentions just one book, Habits of the Heart, a mainstream recommendation of American core values, and asserts that the social sciences shape "our public discussion of the values that animate our society." The Humanities Research Institute, at UC Irvine similarly is "an important voice in the dialogue about the humanities and their contributions to our culture and our daily lives." Aside from this reference to one book and one institution, Atkinson has little else to say about the work in the humanities and in the social sciences. He then goes on to assert that the existence of research programs in the humanities and the social sciences at a university devoted to applied science is itself important. Of course, it is possible that I missed some of his pronouncements, but as far as I could discover, there is no other statement concerning the humanities and the social sciences by Atkinson. His listlessness to any research outside of R&D is unmistakable.

A mere generation ago, in 1963, another president of the UC system, Clark Kerr, published The Uses of the University, originally given as one of the Godkin Lectures at Harvard University, in which he defined the university as a service station responsive to multiple social forces rather than an autonomous site of learning. These forces, in actuality, consisted mainly of national defense, agribusiness, and other corporate interests. Yet the multiversity was defined as the mediator of various and diverse expectations, however one-sided its arbitration may have been. It was still proposed to be an interventionary agent. The book was reread the following year when the UC Berkeley campus exploded with the demand for free speech by students, many of whom were fresh from the voter registration drive in the South that summer. The students and faculty who took an antimultiversity stand insisted that the university not only produced multiple skills and applications but also "enrich[ed] and enlighten[ed] the lives of its students-informing them with the values of the intellect." Intellectual honesty, political health, and the social vision of a better future were the components of higher education for them. Thus the movement for civil rights, racial equality, peace, feminism-together with free speech-found its place inside the university.

Kerr's multiversity was perhaps the first candid admission of the university as part of the corporate system by anyone in the administration of higher education. It is crucial, however, to realize that his recognition of its multiple functions was yet a far cry from Atkinson's unself-conscious idea of the university as a site dedicated to corporate R&D. Conversely, the antimultiversity view of the students and faculty of the 1960s matter-of-factly countered Kerr's reformulation with the long-established tradition of "liberal education." In the hindsight of the early twenty-first century, this mainstream fable of liberal education as free inquiry also requires reexamination and reformulation. We need to register here, at any rate, that today's corporatized university-which would have been an unspeakable sacrilege for many less than a generation ago-is now being embraced with hardly any complaint or criticism by the faculty, students, or society at large. What is it that has transpired between the university as the mediator and the university as the corporate partner, between the protest of the sixties and the silence of the nineties? Why this acquiescence? We need to return to the beginning of the modern university so that we may see more clearly the institutional changes alongside the unfolding of modern history.

The modern university was built around 1800 to fill the need for knowledge production as Europe and the United States prepared themselves for expansion overseas. Scientific and technological research was its primary program, as it was launched in the name of enlightenment and progress. Together with practical knowledge, however, what is now called the humanities and the social sciences were advanced by the emerging bourgeoisie. But the educational transformation from the ancient regime to the revolutionary bourgeois democracy was not as radical as one might suspect. On the one hand, an old-style university education was the noblesse oblige of the aristocracy, and despite the self-serving devotion to the maintenance of its class position, it claimed to be anti-utilitarian or useless. Erudition, learning for the sake of learning, refinement, intellectual pleasure-such privileged and elevated play constituted the goal of aristocratic education. Bourgeois revolutionary education, on the other hand, was rational, universal, secular, and enlightened. It, too, claimed to be neutral and objective rather than partisan or utilitarian. It is under these circumstances that "liberal" education continued to be a crucial idea of the modern university. There was, however, a more central agenda of founding the modern national state, which demanded the construction, information, and dissemination of the national identity by inculcating common language and centralizing history, culture, literature, and geography. The state promoted national knowledge closely aligned with practical knowledge. Despite its pretense, national knowledge was thus profoundly partisan, and liberal education and national education were often in conflict. They could be, at the same time, in agreement, too: after all, the nineteenth-century state was founded by the bourgeoisie, and it was willing to accommodate the surviving aristocracy, although it was adamant in excluding the interest of the emergent working class. Liberal education was tolerated, or even encouraged, since it promoted bourgeois class interests. It appropriated courtly arts, music, poetry, drama, and history, and, over the years, established the canon now designated as high and serious culture. Liberal education and national education contradicted and complemented each other, as the state was engaged in its principal task of expanding the market and colony by containing overseas barbarians, rivaling the neighboring nations, and suppressing the aspiring underclass. The modern university as envisioned by Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Humboldt, Newman, Charles Eliot, T. H. Huxley, Matthew Arnold, Daniel Coit Gilman, Thorstein Veblen, Hutchins, and Jacques Barzun contained such contradiction and negotiation of utilitarian nationism and anti-utilitarian inquiry.

Newman had his church, and his university-a separate site-was merely to educate the "gentlemen," Lord Shaftsbury's cultured men, who were aloof to the utility of expertise and profession as well as oblivious to the lives and aspirations of the lower order. Newman's heart always belonged to aristocratic Oxford, even while he was writing The Idea of a University for a Catholic university in Dublin. Huxley's scientific research, on the other hand, was devoted to practice and utility, and, unlike the Oxbridge tradition, it was to provide expertise and profession, not Arnoldian culture and criticism. The myth of the university as a site of liberal education, that is, class-free, unrestricted, self-motivated, and unbiased learning, survives to this day. And yet academia has always been ambivalent. In the name of classless learning, it sought to mold its members in the bourgeois class identity. Emerson's "American Scholar" deployed a strategy of defining American learning as non-American or trans-American. In short, it managed to be both American and non-American at the same time, while making American synonymous with universal. This hidden contradiction can readily be compared to Arnold's idea of "culture," free and spontaneous consciousness, which is supposedly free from class bias and vulgar self-interest. To safeguard this culture, however, Arnold did not hesitate to invoke the "sacred state," which will unflinchingly squash any working-class "anarchy and disorder," as he advocated during the second Reform Bill agitation around the late 1860s.

In the United States, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act in 1862, setting "the tone for the development of American universities, both public and private." This land-grant movement introduced schools of agriculture, engineering, home economics, and business administration. And later, the landgrant colleges and universities were required to teach a military training program, ROTC. Thus no modern university has been free from class interests, and many critical writers chose, and were often forced, to stay outside-for example, Marx, Nietzsche, Rosa Luxemburg, Bertrand Russell, Antonio Gramsci, I. F. Stone, and Frantz Fanon. But perhaps because of the as yet not completely integrated relations of money and power, the university has at times allowed some room for scholars who would transcend their immediate class interests. Such eccentrics, though not many in number, have formed an important history of their own, as we can see in our century in Jun Tosaka, Herbert Marcuse, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Raymond Williams, C. Wright Mills, and E. P. Thompson. There are others who are still active, yet the university as an institution has served Caesar and Mammon, yet all the while manifesting its fealty to Minerva, Clio, and the Muses.

The three wars in the twentieth century-World War I, World War II, and the Cold War (which includes the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam)-intensified the proclivity of the university to serve the interests of the state. Beginning with weapons research, such as the Manhattan Project, research extended far beyond physics and chemistry, and engineering and biology, to reach the humanities and the social sciences. Following the organization of the intelligence system (the Office of Strategic Services, or oss), the humanities soon became far more broadly complicit with the formation of state/capitalist ideology. In literature, the fetishism of irony, paradox, and complexity helped to depoliticize, that is, to conceal capitalist contradictions, by invoking the "open-minded" distantiation of bourgeois modernism. The canon was devised and reinforced. In the arts, abstract expressionism was promoted to counter Soviet realism, and in history, progress and development were the goal toward which democracy inexorably marched. In the United States at least, the social sciences have always been directed toward policy and utility. And by compartmentalizing the world into areas, area studies has mapped out national interests in both the humanities and the social sciences. Such nationalization of the university was slowly challenged after the 1960s, and by the end of the Cold War, around 1990, the hegemony of the state was clearly replaced by the dominant power of the global market.

What separates Atkinson from Kerr is the end of the Cold War and the globalization of the economy, two events that are merely two aspects of the same capitalist development. What, then, is this event, and how does it affect the university? Globalization is certainly not new: Capitalism has always looked for new markets, cheaper labor, and greater productivity everywhere, as Marx and Engels pointed out in the Manifesto of the Communist Party in the nineteenth century. The internationalization of trade between 1880 and World War I was proportionately as great as the current cross-border trade. This time, however, expansion is thoroughly different in its intensity and magnitude as a result of the startling technological development and sheer volume of production.


Excerpted from Learning places by Masao Miyoshi Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction: The “Afterlife” of Area Studies

Ivory Tower in Escrow / Masao Miyoshi

Ando Shoeki - “The Forgotten Thinker” in Japanese History / Tetsuo Najita

Objectivism and the Eradication of Critique in Japanese History / Stefan Tanaka

Theory, Area Studies, Cultural Studies: Issues of Pedagogy in Multiculturalism / Rey Chow

Signs of Our Times: A Discussion of Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture / Benita Parry

Postcoloniality’s Unconscious / Area Studies’ Desire / H. D. Harootunian

Asian Exclusion Acts / Sylvia Yanagisako

Areas, Disciplines, and Ethnicity / Richard H. Okada

Can American Studies Be Area Studies? / Paul A. Bové

Imagining “Asia-Pacific” Today: Forgetting Colonialism in the Magical Free Markets of the American Pacific / Rob Wilson

Boundary Displacement: The State, the Foundations, and Area Studies during and after the Cold War / Bruce Cumings

The Disappearance of Modern Japan: Japan and Social Science / Bernard S. Silberman

Bad Karma in Asia / Moss Roberts

From Politics to Culture: Modern Japanese Literary Studies in the Age of Cultural Studies / James A. Fujii

Questions of Japanese Cinema: Disciplinary Boundaries and the Invention of the Scholarly Object / Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto



Customer Reviews