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Elena Khlinovskaya Rockhill

The six UK Genetics Knowledge Parks (GKPs) were shaped and governed by two frameworks: a 'need' to harness 'new genetics' and the relations of accountability as seen in the context of entrepreneurial government. The remit of the Cambridge GKP (CGKP) was to develop public health genetics by building on the concepts of partnership and interdisciplinarity. In the course of its work, the CGKP emphasized the virtues of 'change management', seen as distinct from, and opposed to, an academic model of knowledge production. However, the model that the CGKP actually created was a research/management hybrid that resisted quality assurance checks developed for each model (research and management), presenting a formidable challenge for the evaluation and assessment of the CGKP's work.

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Editorial

Post-colonial Interdisciplinarity

Liam Connell

The concern of this issue on post-colonial interdisciplinarity is with the apparent need for interdisciplinary approaches in post-colonial analyses: analyses that take textuality as their object but which are framed around wider social or political questions of power. By necessity such analyses take the critic into territories that until the end of the 1960s were not considered the property of literary studies. Yet, however necessary this expansion of the critic’s focus has been in order to allow literary criticism to comment on the social functions of representation, it has exposed post-colonialism to a range of criticisms, many of which seem to arise from a perceived weakness in its interdisciplinary approach. For instance, as the gaze of the critic has been cast increasingly widely, many conservative commentators have come to lament the loss of the text. This concern has perhaps been less hotly contested in Britain than in the U.S., where the socalled ‘Canon Wars’ split departments. Nevertheless it seems especially problematic for post-colonial studies because even its fairly modest project of opening up the canon to writers from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East has been predicated on a fundamentally political concern with wider forms of inequality, of which Eurocentric reading practices are only one facet.

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Post-colonial Piracy

Anxiety and Interdisciplinarity

David Huddart

Questioned by W. J. T. Mitchell on the importance of theory for postcolonial studies, Homi Bhabha proceeds to distinguish two forms of interdisciplinarity. The first form is familiar in its emphasis on joint degrees and teaching in order to widen the teaching or research base, juxtaposing disciplines which yet maintain their solid foundations. The second form of interdisciplinarity acknowledges disciplinary limits, and marks the shaking of apparently solid foundations; Bhabha argues that it ‘is not an attempt to strengthen one foundation by drawing from another; it is a reaction to the fact that we are living at the real border of our own disciplines, where some of the fundamental ideas of our disciplines are being profoundly shaken. So our interdisciplinary moment is a move of survival – the formulation of knowledges that require our disciplinary scholarship and technique but demand that we abandon disciplinary mastery and surveillance.’ Elsewhere, in ‘DissemiNation’, Bhabha expands his point to argue for the necessity of this second form of interdisciplinarity: ‘To enter into the interdisciplinarity of cultural texts means that we cannot contextualize the emergent cultural form by locating it in terms of some pre-given discursive causality or origin.

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Introduction

Interdisciplinary Concepts and their Political Significance

Ernst Müller

This essay introduces a panel of four studies of concepts: survival, generation, mutation, and reflex; concepts which circulate among different disciplines. The introduction addresses the problems of disciplinary lexica of conceptual history which have been completed in Germany in recent years; at the same time it questions the boundaries between political-social language (as represented by the Cambridge school in the English-speaking world and by Koselleck in the German) and concepts in natural sciences. The methodological problems examined in the process include issues of knowledge and discipline and interdisciplinarity, as well as of metaphorology and translation, and investigates their relation to the logic of the political.

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Ageeth Sluis and Elise Edwards

Many opportunities for more integrated teaching that better capture the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary scholars' work and better achieve the aims of liberal arts education still remain untapped, particularly at smaller schools where combined departments are often necessary. The disciplinary boundaries between history and sociocultural anthropology have become increasingly blurred in recent decades, a trend reflected in scholarly work that engages with both fields, as well as dual-degree graduate programmes at top U.S. research universities. For many scholars, this interdisciplinarity makes sense, with the two disciplines offering critical theoretical tools and methods that must be used in combination to tackle effectively the questions they pursue. This article asks why this interdisciplinarity, so central to professional pursuits of both historians and anthropologists, is significantly less present in the undergraduate classroom. Housed in one of the only joint History and Anthropology departments in the U.S., we detail our own efforts to make the chance joining of our disciplines pedagogically meaningful.

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Nancy Tuana

Research on human-environment interactions often neglects the resources of the humanities. Hurricane Katrina and the resulting levee breaches in New Orleans offer a case study on the need for inclusion of the humanities in the study of human-environment interactions, particularly the resources they provide in examining ethics and value concerns. Methods from the humanities, when developed in partnership with those from the sciences and social sciences, can provide a more accurate, effective, and just response to the scientific and technological challenges we face as a global community.

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Roberto Farneti

The literature on democratization uses measures of either ethnic fractionalization or polarization in empirical analyses on the causes of democratic regress; some authors have argued that either of the two complicates democratization. This article detects a conceptual puzzle in this use of the two concepts: when we shift the attention from fractionalization to polarization we are not simply moving along a continuum but rather making an epistemic leap from facts to normative problems. But to treat the relation between a descriptive account of a state of affairs and a normative status as a continuum is a fallacy that remains unaddressed in this literature. This article exposes the limits of analyses that remove normative considerations from the big picture of dynamics of democratization and that narrow their focus to case histories of democratic development. It pleas for a return to normative insight and interdisciplinary dialogue.

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'Seeing' Environmental Process in Time

Questions of Evidence and Agency

David Sneath

This introduction reviews the articles collected in this special section, articles that explore different visions of the environment and how they engender particular ways of seeing evidence of climatic and environmental change. A key aspect of such distinctive understandings seems to be the attribution of agency within conceptions of the environment that in each case are entangled with humans. Notions of anthropogenic and non-equilibrial environments are explored in several of the articles collected here, along with ongoing debates surrounding the concept of the Anthropocene. An awareness of climate change has brought new urgency to the project of grasping our entangled environments in the diversity of their human understandings.

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Migration Studies in Bulgaria

Scope, Experiences and Developments

Magdalena Elchinova

The article overviews the current state of migration studies in Bulgaria. It is argued that their deficiencies stem from the fact that they are nationally embedded, contingent on ongoing public and political discourses, almost exclusively limited to the sociological, psychological and cultural dimensions of migration, and largely operating with the concepts of community, ethnicity and identity, despite the increasing share of ethnographic descriptions of good quality in the field. The further development of migration studies in Bulgaria will depend on the elaboration of a more complex and systematic analytical framework. A shift from community and ethnicity to gender, kinship, social networks and other explanatory categories is needed. It is also necessary to see the variety of forms of commonality and interaction between migrants in order to see migration as a dynamic phenomenon. Finally, it is crucial to develop an interdisciplinary theoretical framework that would best fit the complex nature of migration.

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The Past as a Foreign Country

Bioarchaeological Perspectives on Pinker’s “Prehistoric Anarchy”

Linda Fibiger

Steven Pinker’s thesis on the decline of violence since prehistory has resulted in many popular and scholarly debates on the topic that have ranged—at times even raged— across the disciplinary spectrum of evolution, psychology, philosophy, biology, history, and beyond. Those disciplines that made the most substantial contribution to the empirical data underpinning Pinker’s notion of a more violent prehistoric past, namely, archaeology and bioarchaeology/physical anthropology, have not featured as prominently in these discussions as may be expected. This article will focus on some of the issues resulting from Pinker’s oversimplifi ed cross-disciplinary use of bioarchaeological data sets in support of his linear model of the past, a model that, incidentally, has yet to be incorporated into current accounts of violent practices in prehistory.