Accepted Paper:

National and regional anthropologies: a sociology of knowledge  


Eyal Ben-Ari (Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee)

Paper short abstract:

This conceptual paper charts out the sociology of anthropological knowledge in order to understand the limits and potentials of an East Asian anthropology. Key words: global linguistic academic communities, academic modes of production.

Paper long abstract:

Take employment notices, academic publications or syllabi for introductory courses on what are called "area" or "regional" studies such as Latin American, South Asian or Pacific Studies. Published around the world, such texts regularly appear in our scholarly worlds and express the wider social and institutional conditions within which anthropological knowledge about purportedly discrete regions is created and recreated. What kind of institutional arrangements and practices are entailed by texts focused on specific areas? What ideals of disciplinary and professional conduct and career moves in anthropology do such files and advertisements represent? In what ways do Middle East or African Studies differ from Japanese Studies or Chinese Studies? Does anthropology differ in its use of knowledge produced in area studies from political science or sociology? My paper attempts to answer such questions in an exploratory and purposely provocative manner through. I use the case of Japanese Studies and anthropology within the English-using world to explore wider issues that have to do with our academic institutions and paths of careering.

In this conceptual paper I chart out the outlines of a sociology of anthropological knowledge, that is an analysis of the kinds of social processes, structures and practices through which our disciplinary knowledge is created. I do so through positing a global differentiation between academic linguistic communities, centers and peripheries, unique modes of academic production in each community and the broad historical topographies of their changes.

Panel P018
East Asian anthropology/anthropologies (EAAA panel)