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.
Eyal Ben-Ari taught at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology of the Hebrew University for twenty-six years. From 2011 he established FEBA Research and Consultancy which is based in Jerusalem (firstname.lastname@example.org) and since 2013 he is a Senior Research Fellow at The Kinneret Center on Peace, Security and Society in Memory of Dan Shomron.