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Lecture | LIAS Lunch Talk Series

We need to talk about methods. The methodological potential of Area Studies within the Humanities

Wednesday 22 May 2024
LIAS Lunch Talk Series
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 1-4
2311 BZ Leiden
Vrieshof 3 / 1.04 (Verbarium)


Area Studies research has long been characterized by robust research methodologies, grounded in the exploration and interpretation of primary sources central to our investigations. As researchers of the Middle East and Asia, and in our endeavors to understand human societies and cultures, we have developed tools for data collection and analysis, deeply rooted in our fields and with deep ties to the sources we explore. Despite our rich traditions and the firm placement of Area Studies within the Humanities, humanists struggle to carve out their own identity in terms of research methodology. Methodological rigor has frequently been associated more closely with the Social Sciences, which have a tradition of formalized methods. It makes sense than that in recent decades, methodologies developed within the social sciences have gained more prominence within Area Studies, greatly raising its research profile. At the faculty level, efforts have been made to elevate the profile of methodologies within the humanities with a particular focus on digital humanities. While these developments have deeply enriched our methodological toolbox, they risk overshadowing the rich but less formalized resources already present. The conversation about methodologies in the Humanities however is ongoing, which means that now is the time for us to showcase the full breadth of research methods and methodological rigor which has for long been inherent to Area Studies. This talk will explore the untapped methodological potential of Area Studies within the Humanities, shedding light on how we can leverage our existing expertise, and make visible our research methodologies to colleagues and students alike.

About the speaker

Maaike Warnaar is Assistant Professor International Studies and Middle East Studies at LIAS. She is the author of Iranian foreign policy during Ahmadinejad: ideology and action (2013) and co-edited Iran's Relations with the Arab States of the Gulf: Common Interests over Historic Rivalry. Last year her Dutch-language book on Netherlands-Iran relations came out, based on her Veni-Project. Title: Onze vriend op de Pauwentroon, Nederland en de laatste sjah van Iran.

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