Action in Madagascar: the World Bank, Ravalomanana and leadership
In the 1990s I started to take an interest in the networking capacity for Cultural Studies when Meaghan Morris introduced me to Kuan-Hsing Chen at the time of the Trajectories conferences and the Inter-Asia Cultural Studies group was beginning to form. It was conceived as an alternative intellectual knowledge-exchange which now, of course, has the journal whose anniversary is marked here. It provides key intellectual support for a vital and well-funded network of scholars working among Taiwan, China, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Korea, etc. For younger scholars in the humanities this network has effectively displaced any need for them to work within the older area studies frameworks controlled by Anglo-American universities, this in no small part due to the hard work of Inter-Asia Cultural Studies;nor did they necessarily feel the need to go to one of those universities for their graduate training. The local training in Taiwan or Hong Kong still uses English a lot, as a lingua franca, and still uses many canonical cultural studies texts, but the decolonization process is well-advanced. It is an extraordinarily successful network, using interdisciplinary theory as yet another kind of lingua franca, breaking the hegemonic hold of the older disciplines-Anthropology, History, International social studies, and their area-studies foci, and opening up new specific areas of study not visible to those older networks: new media, gender studies, alternative globalization studies. It was this vision of an international network of cultural studies; in an area, but without Area Studies, that I have sought to set up in the Indian Ocean, the ocean contiguous to Australia, but largely ignored by Australian scholars. This network continues in Sydney (the Indian Ocean and South Asia Research Network), with links to scholars in Johannesburg, Réunion Island (France), London, and various Indian centres.
Stephen Muecke is Professor of Writing in the School of English, Media and Performing Arts, University of New South Wales.