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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal International Theory
Page(s) 1 - 32
Title of proceedings International Theory
DOI 10.1017/s1752971920000184


AbstractWithin the political-economy of the social sciences, Area Studies (AS) is supposed to supply contextually-informed knowledge on (non-Western) areas to the other social sciences, in exchange for theory to guide further empirical investigations. Based on this assumption, there are regular calls for greater engagement with AS to counteract the shortcomings of International Relations’ (IR) knowledge-base on many areas, perspectives, and practices of the international. However, there has been little work empirically detailing knowledge-exchange practices between IR and AS, so it remains an open question if the relationship functions as an exchange of ‘international’ theory-for-‘area’ empirics. This paper provides a macro-sociological analysis of the practices of IR–AS knowledge-exchange. By focusing on citation practice, it moves beyond accounts that treat the two disciplines as ‘black boxes’, to trace which parts of the ‘dividing discipline’ of IR are active in exchanging knowledge with which ‘area’ scholarships. Hence, it asks: Are there ‘area’ blindspots in IR's knowledge-production? And, what type of IR theory is exported to AS? This analysis informs an assessment of whether AS represents a significant resource for IR in its efforts to, one, better inform its knowledge-production about ‘other’ areas of the international, and two, assert its disciplinary-relevance within the academy.