The competence network Crossroads Asia, funded by the Area Studies Initiative of the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), started off in March 2011. Comprised of half a dozen research institutions with regional expertise covering Afghanistan, Iran, Kashmir, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Northern India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Xinjiang, the network aims to further understanding of the geographic area stretching from eastern Iran to western China and from the Aral Sea to northern India. At the same time, the network challenges the validity of the traditional approach to Area Studies still found at many German universities: dividing the world into territorially fixed areas and investigating the specific set of traits that allegedly characterize them. The network’s counter approach aspires to identify concepts of area that take into account key dynamics like the constant mobility of people, goods and ideas across borders. The research within the network has centered on figurations, defined as specific causal and functional connections making up a constellation (e.g. a famial, religious, or economic network), which can begin in a given location and stretch to far-flung corners of the world, perhaps then returning to where they began or taking off in a new direction. These figurations, collectively forming a perpetual crossroads, can be altered or stabilized based on minor changes to small parts. The Crossroads Asia network investigates figurations and their dynamics using methods from the disciplines geography, political science, sociology, linguistics and social anthropology, among others. Read more.

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