Towards Comparative Area Studies 2.0
In 2018 Ariel Ahram (Virginia Tech), Patrick Köllner (GIGA/University of Hamburg) and Rudra Sil (University of Pennsylvania) co-edited the volume Comparative Area Studies: Methodological Rationales and Cross-Regional Applications published by Oxford University Press. This trailblazing book made the case for Comparative Area Studies (CAS). CAS connects the context sensitivity of Area Studies with the use of comparative methods. Many important political and social developments, processes and outcomes are not confined to one particular part of the world. CAS seeks to uncover the causal linkages that are portable across different world regions. The approach helps to build more accurate explanations of use to academia and the interested public. By bringing together concepts and evidence from different world regions, CAS also seeks to engage different area-studies communities against the backdrop of more general debates within social science, especially comparative politics, international relations, and international political economy. Together with other approaches, CAS thus contributes to the revitalisation of Area Studies.
The GIGA is committed to advancing CAS, the institute’s flagship methodological approach. The institute is convinced that CAS works best when embedded in a ‘Global Approach’ to scholarship – an approach that focuses on globally relevant topics, is mindful of local perspectives and involves close cooperation with partners in different world regions, and disseminates its findings globally through renowned research outlets and to policymakers.
The CAS approach has garnered attention across the globe. Most recently, the QMMR newsletter of the American Political Science Association (APSA), a premier forum for discussing state-of-the-art qualitative and mixed-methods research, engaged with the 2018 volume, devoting a full symposium to CAS. The symposium, organised by Ryan Saylor (University of Tulsa), raises a number of interesting questions and issues which will be addressed in a successor volume to the 2018 book edited by Ahram, Köllner, and Sil. The three scholars have joined forces again, organising a series of web-based seminars on CAS which will get underway in spring 2021. These seminars will culminate in a final bookmaking workshop at the GIGA in Hamburg scheduled for spring 2022. Numerous well-known scholars based in Europe, North America, and beyond have already signed up to this exciting initiative. CAS 2.0 is in the making. Stay tuned.