Building: VMP 5 Floor: 2 Room: 2079
Two fundamental convictions lie at the heart of the Comparative Area Studies approach. First, area studies scholarship remains indispensable for the social sciences, both as a way to expand our font of observations and as a source of theoretical ideas. Second, this scholarship risks becoming marginalized without more efforts to demonstrate its broader relevance and utility. Comparative Area Studies (CAS) is one such effort, seeking to balance attention to regional and local contextual attributes with use of the comparative method in search of portable causal links and mechanisms. In the process, CAS engages scholarly discourse in relevant area studies communities while employing concepts intelligible to social science disciplines. In practice, CAS suggests a distinctive style of small-N analysis, cross-regional contextualized comparison. As the contributions to the volume "Comparative Area Studies: Methodological Rationales and Cross-Regional Applications" (eds. Ariel Ahram, Patrick Köllner, Rudra Sil, Oxford University Press 2018) show, this approach does not subsume or replace area studies scholarship but creates new opportunities for generating "middle range" theoretical arguments of interest to the social sciences.
In this panel, which draws in part on the above-mentioned volume, we discuss, on the one hand, the rationales and merits of as well as the (analytical and practical) challenges facing the CAS approach and, on the other hand, present empirical applications drawn from the comparative study of Middle East politics and the comparative study of inter-regionalism.