Bridging the Gap: IR, Middle East Studies and the Disciplinary Politics of the Area Studies Controversy

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Abstract

Although International Relations and Middle East Studies share an interest in several aspects of Middle East politics, interdisciplinary research remains surprisingly scarce. This article asks why, despite repeated calls since the inception of these fields, this interdisciplinary gap has never been bridged. It supplements conventional approaches which emphasize a simple intellectual history, with elements of a political economy of the organization and production of knowledge, arguing that while intellectual convergence may be a necessary condition for interdisciplinarity, only a shift in epistemic grounds within which fields understand their scholarship can bring this about, and that this in turn requires a shift in the way knowledge is organized and produced. First, the article provides a genealogy of calls for interdisciplinary scholarship. Second, it locates interdisciplinary relations in the universalist organization of knowledge within which they emerged and which still (re)produce inter- and intra-disciplinary divides today. Finally, it considers the potential for Constructivism to provide an interdisciplinary bridge.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-145
Number of pages29
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

Keywords

  • constructivism
  • disciplinary history
  • foucault
  • international relations
  • Middle East Studies
  • international-relations theory
  • future
  • sociology
  • American
  • power

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