The 2nd Session of Liangxiang Forum | The Outlook and Challenges of Area Studies as An Interdisciplinary Subject

The second lecture of “Liangxiang Forum” of the Institute for International and Area Studies of Tsinghua University in the autumn semester of 2021, titled “The Outlook and Challenges of Area Studies as An Interdisciplinary Subject”, was held on September 27th, 2021. The lecture was given by Professor Yang Cheng of Shanghai Foreign Studies University and presided over by Shi Jing, an assistant Professor of the IIAS. Young researchers, doctoral students and teachers and students from other colleges and universities attended the lecture.

At the beginning of the lecture, Prof. Yang Cheng summarized the development process of domestic area studies mainly from the time perspective. After the founding of the people’s Republic of China, some units engaged in area studies began to appear in Liaoning, Yunnan, Fujian and Guangdong; In the 1980s, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and some domestic universities further promoted the development of area studies; In the late 1990s, the Ministry of education began to set up key research bases of Humanities and Social Sciences; In recent years, area studies have become a research hotspot.

After reviewing the development of area studies, Prof. Yang Cheng summarized the problems and challenges faced by the current development of area studies. Focusing on the path of discipline construction, Prof. Yang Cheng believes that area studies are different from other disciplines, and there is no clear discipline or research boundary at present. The division of regional country study boundary needs to be further demonstrated with the help of relevant factual basis.

Prof. Yang Cheng shared his thoughts on area studies. He believes that anthropology, history and geography are the most basic and important disciplinary tools in analysis and research: anthropology is an important way to carry out research around the other; As an “invisible hand”, historical research plays a key role in policy research; In addition, security and diplomatic issues are inseparable from geopolitical analysis, which reflects the weight of geographical factors in area studies.

At the end of the lecture, Prof. Yang Cheng and the present teachers and students had a heated discussion on the combination of non-common foreign language learning and area studies, the expansion of discipline knowledge of area studies, and academic writing and publishing issues.

Yang Cheng, professor and doctoral supervisor of Shanghai Foreign Studies University, executive director of Shanghai Institute of global governance and area studies, has successively served in the Ministry of foreign affairs, the Chinese Embassy in Russia and East China Normal University. He is good at area studies in Eurasia, and his academic achievements have won provincial and ministerial awards for six times. His main research interests are Russia and major country relations, China Russia adjacent regional cooperation, Shanghai Cooperation Organization and Central Asia.

Text by: Wang Qin
Typesetting by: Cheng Yao
Reviewed by: Cheng Yao