By Jan Joost Teunissen (editor)
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Extra info for A regional approach to financial crisis prevention: lessons from Europe and initiatives in Asia, Latin America and Africa
Society is both real and imagined. It is real through face-to-face contact and imagined when the idea of its existence is mediated through mediums such as printed materials and electronic images. So, the term society refers simultaneously to a micro unit that we could observe and to a macro one that we could only be partially engaged with. We therefore have observable ‘societies’ within a macro imagined ‘society’, so to speak. Asia, like other regions in the world, has both. But it is the way that both of these components have been weaved into an enduring complex whole, which seemed to have made Asia and Asians thrive and survive even under adverse conditions, such as the recent financial-economic crisis, that has become the source of endless intellectual attraction and academic inquiry to both scholars and others, hence the birth, growth and flourishing of Asian studies.
Those who favour area studies often believe that Asian studies can be taught at the undergraduate level hence the establishment of Asian studies departments or programs, in a number of universities in Asia, combining basic skills of various disciplines to examine the internal dynamics of societies within the region. Acquiring proficiency in one or two languages from the region is a must in this case. The problem with this bureaucratic strategy is that these departments have to be located in a particular faculty, say, in the arts, humanities or social science faculty.
Muslims had to be educated in Dutch (secularised) culture in order to get past the political and social significance of religious difference. It is interesting that these policy views were articulated in a period in which the political organization of the metropolis was still largely based on religious difference. In the Indies, however, subjects still had to be educated to become citizens. We now know that the secularisation of the Indies has not been successful. Islamic organizations are crucial in the political constellation of postcolonial Indonesia.