Global Area Studies with Special Reference to the Malay or Maritime World
Narifumi Maeda TACHIMOTO
This essay explores recent frontiers in area studies, especially as conducted in Japan, by
focussing on Southeast Asian studies.
First, the various trends of endeavor in area studies are viewed in terms of the
disciplinary commitment that scholars express or feel. The spectrum of commitment itself
shows the historical trajectory of area studies, from foreign studies to multidisciplinary
area studies, to transdisciplinary area studies. It is apparent that a new concept of area
studies is emerging, and the background of this development will be briefly reviewed.
Second, the concept of unit-world as a substitute for area is discussed, together with
sociocultural ecodynamics as a methodology for transdisciplinary area studies.
The third section examines the maritime world or Malay world as a case of a unitworld.
In conclusion, it will be argued that this kind of area studies, or global area studies,
could provide a new paradigm for the twenty-first century that goes beyond nation-state or
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