Heike Holbig

The Plasticity of Regions: A Social Sciences–Cultural Studies Dialogue on Asia-Related Area Studies

GIGA Working Paper, No. 267, March 2015

Abstract
Representatives from the social sciences and cultural studies continue to exhibit mutual reservations and sensitivities when they encounter each other in the field of area studies. This is particularly so with regard to research on East and Southeast Asia. Given this background and with the intention of deriving a productive definition of area studies, this article attempts to assess the current state of Asia‐related area studies by reviewing and comparing the debates within the social sciences and cultural studies in the Anglo‐Saxon and German‐language spheres on the changing role of the discipline. In this text, region is defined as an ongoing process involving the communicative construction of social relations. Various approaches to describing the regions of East and Southeast Asia illustrate that this process is subject to dialectical movements of de‐ and reterritorialization, which should be examined as issues of equal empirical rank. In view of a growing focus primarily on transnational and transregional entanglements, this text suggests using the term "reflexive essentialism" and proposes more extensive reflection on the new and essentialist self‐assurances, limitations, and entrenchments at the regional, national, and subnational levels.

Related Research at the GIGA

Related Research Tabs

GIGA Authors

Prof. Dr. Heike Holbig

Senior Research Fellow
Editor GIGA Focus Asia

Prof. Dr. Heike Holbig is a senior research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies and Professor of Political Science with a focus on Chinese and East Asian Area Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt. As a member of the GIGA’s Research Programme 1 “Accountability and Participation,” she focuses on state–society relations as well as ideological and organisational changes in the authoritarian party regime of the People’s Republic of China. Besides doing research on the domestic politics of China, she also studies the international dimensions of legitimation.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Bertram Lang / Heike Holbig

Civil Society Work in China: Trade-Offs and Opportunities for European NGOs

GIGA Focus Asia, 06/2018

Heike Holbig

Whose New Normal? Framing the Economic Slowdown Under Xi Jinping

Journal of Chinese Political Science, 23, 2018, 3, 341–363

Iwo Amelung / Moritz Bälz / Heike Holbig / Matthias Schumann / Cornelia Storz

Weak vs. Strong: Ambiguities of Protection

in: Iwo Amelung / Moritz Bälz / Heike Holbig / Matthias Schumann / Cornelia Storz (eds.), Protecting the Weak in East Asia: Framing, Mobilisation, and Institutionalisation, Abingdon/New York: Routledge, 2018, 257-271

Iwo Amelung / Moritz Bälz / Heike Holbig / Elisa Hörhager / Matthias Schumann / Cornelia Storz

Introduction

in: Iwo Amelung / Moritz Bälz / Heike Holbig / Matthias Schumann / Cornelia Storz (eds.), Protecting the Weak in East Asia: Framing, Mobilisation, and Institutionalisation, Abingdon / New York: Routledge, 2018, 1-19

Iwo Amelung / Moritz Bälz / Heike Holbig / Matthias Schumann / Cornelia Storz (eds.)

Protecting the Weak in East Asia: Framing, Mobilisation, and Institutionalisation

Abingdon/New York: Routledge, 2018