Area Studies

The institute's research interest covers the major world regions and civilizations including Central Europe, the post-Soviet countries, the Islamic world, India, China, the USA, and Latin-America, thus contributing to a wide range of fields in area studies.

One approach is the peripheries' understanding: culture against economy in Eastern Europe and Latin America, which aims to map the strategies of cultural emancipation on the peripheries of the Euro-Atlantic civilization. One way was that of Polish "culturalism" while the second alternative is the choice of the Argentinian and the Brazilian cultural elite. While paying special attention to the morals of the expired East European cultural emancipation agenda, theorists in Latin America reject its hostile attitude towards economism. As a result, we can present new insights into the theory and practice of cultural emancipation strategies on the peripheries of the West and advance towards a clear definition of the "culture against economy" phenomenon.

Another topic of research is the complex, multi-dimensional relationship of the countries of the former Soviet Union with the European Union. From the side of the EU this relationship has constantly been developing, particularly since the launch of the Eastern Partnership (EaP) in 2009. Focus is mostly on those particular domestic political conditions of the six EaP countries – Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Georgia – that shape their relationship with the EU. Besides, as a closely related, but indeed independent subject, there is a great deal of work on the foreign and security policy of Russia as well, concentrating mostly on Russia's relationship with the EaP countries and with Central Europe.

The study of the Islamic civilization does not restrict itself to recent political and economic problems, but traces them back to history, thus unveiling the historic and cultural roots of contemporary social phenomena. One such research topic is the history of Islamic political thought from the beginning via Ibn Khaldun to various modern authors in order to understand the diversity of contemporary Islamic political thinking. Another field of research is classical Islamic law, a topic also connected to the comparative law program of the institute which aims to clarify the role and position of classical legal thought in modern Muslim countries and to show how legal pluralism works in these societies.

India as one of the BRICS countries is becoming increasingly important in economics, politics and every other aspect of her presence in the globalised world, therefore it is important to obtain and produce up-to-date knowledge about its political structure, social change and economic development. Research – among others – has to focus on how ancient values and the particular Indian social structure has been adapting itself to the modern world and how its hierarchical outlook fits into the democratic political system based on the principle of equality of citizens. Research has been focusing on the weaker sections of society (Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes) as they are being either expropriated from their means of livelihood or being slowly incorporated into some branches of the economy. Corruption as a major feature of Indian economy and society is also dealt with as an enduring obstacle to the use of resources for developmental purposes. A further issue of research has been the operation of public administration which initially kept the sub-continent intact within the framework of the centralised state but which has become corrupted and – in many ways – a hindrance to the implementation of development projects. A further major issue of research is how secular India is turning Hindu in several respects, curtailing the rights and social conditions of Muslims and Christians and exercising pressure on them. The major problems of modern India are constantly incorporated into the teaching material, new research results are presented to the students and a manual, helping students to understand the major straits of Indian history, culture, and religions, as well as the modern processes of politics, economy and society has been produced in about 320 pages in the form of electronic university notes accessible to all regular students of the university.

The study of China focuses on the effects the Middle Kingdom makes on its surroundings and the whole world, as well as the internal factors that made China's rise possible. The role overseas Chinese communities, especially Taiwanese play in China's rise cannot be overestimated, so particular emphasis is put on cross-strait relations and the transnational networks of Chinese families and firms. China's rise is not a coincidental phenomenon but is rooted deeply in the historical traditions of the country, and what we see now is nothing else than the "comeback" of an old great power to the global scene. As a result, the study of these traditions, especially those regarding institutions and law, is not irrelevant to the understanding of what goes on in East Asia.

New results of area studies are incorporated into the university education on both BA and MA levels, since there are a large number of courses dedicated to the foreign policy of the USA, the politics of the post-Soviet and Central European countries, the Balkans, India, China, Latin-America, the Islamic civilization, and Central Asia.

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