“Pluralistic Middle East” Lecture Series | Tian Wenlin: Theoretical Issues in Area Studies

On the morning of November 4th, 2020, Prof. Tian Wenlin, Research Professor at the Institute of Middle East Studies of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, delivered a lecture on “Theoretical Issues in Area Studies” for doctorate candidates at Institute of International and Area Studies, Tsinghua University (IIAS-THU) as well as scholars from and beyond IIAS, in Auditorium 205 of the Central Main Building. As the fifth session of “Pluralistic Middle East” Lecture Series, it was presided over by Duan Jiuzhou, Assistant Research Professor at IIAS.

(During the event)

Prof. Tian started with the significance of methodological issues in area studies. He pointed out that although phenomenon issues in area studies can be understood through literature review, theoretical issues are the foundation of academic research. He explained that area studies are engaged at three levels, starting from basic knowledge and research analysis, through to theoretical lessons of state governance, the third and highest level. He proposed that good area studies shall be a combination of theoretical height, realistic popularity and historical depth. Later, Prof. Tian elaborated the above-mentioned issues in three sections, including the standpoint in area studies, the perspectives of area studies and the definition of well-grounded methodology.

During the Q&A session, Prof. Tian and the audience discussed the in-depth relationship between theories and practical issues. He stressed that area studies, especially the Middle East studies, shall adhere to the dialectical method of specific analysis on specific issues, instead of sticking to a certain methodology. He also reviewed China’s foreign policy in the Middle East and suggested that China should continue to uphold the precious diplomatic heritage of the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence”.

Holding a PhD of Law, Prof. Tian Wenlin is Research Professor at the Institute of Middle East Studies of China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, Executive Director of The Chinese Association of Middle East Studies and Senior Research Fellow of CITIC Reform and Development Research Institute. His research interest includes Middle East politics and international strategies. Prof. Tian has over 100 publications in leading journals, including World Economy and Politics, Contemporary International Relations, Contemporary World and Socialism, Marxist Studies, China International Studies, World Nationalities, West Asia and Africa, Arab World Studies and Qiushi. He is also the author of International Political Sociology (Military Science Publishing House, 1999), Difficulties and Breakthrough: Middle East Politics in a Changing World (Social Science Literature Publishing House, 2016) and other books.

By: Zhang Yuan
Photography: Duan Jiuzhou