Now that the Rectorate has approved the Faculty’s application to change its name to ’Fakultät für Geschichte, Kunstund Regionalwissenschaften’ in German and to ’Faculty of History, Art and Area Studies’ in English, the institution can operate under this name.
The name ‘Oriental Studies’ has thus been replaced by ‘Area Studies’. Dean Professor Rose Marie Beck explains: “While considering the Faculty’s road map for the future, it turned out that this renaming was not only undisputed, but actually welcome. All these years since it was founded in 1993, the Faculty has used the name ‘Oriental Studies’ because it includes the subjects of anthropology, religious studies, Japanology, Sinology, South and Central Asian studies, African studies, Arabic studies and Oriental studies, Egyptology and Ancient Middle Eastern studies. By renaming the Faculty, we are documenting our own critical distance to the history of the subjects based at our Faculty - subjects born during the colonial period and historically closely intertwined with colonialism.’
Admittedly, the term ‘Regionalwissenschaften’ or ‘area studies’ is not without its own controversy, “because it is often associated with strategic, economic and military interests of the West in the regions of the world.’ However, switching to the new term allows the Faculty to emphasise its links with globalisation research at Leipzig University. “Our philological, historical, ethnographic, cultural and literary approaches to regionally specific stocks of knowledge, for example through local interpretations of global dynamics, complement global perspectives and contribute to their differentiation,’ said Dean Beck.
“Although we now use the term ‘area studies’ in our name, area studies can also be found at two of Leipzig University’s neighbouring faculties dedicated to the humanities and social sciences: the Faculty of Social Sciences and Philosophy, and the Faculty of Philology.’ The Dean emphasised that the debate about local knowledge and global connections has a special place at Leipzig University. “The decision is supported by all members of the Faculty. It reflects the consensus that the Faculty has a role to play in aligning the humanities and social sciences at Leipzig University with globalisation and its effects.’