What is "Relational Studies on the Global Crises (RSGC)"?

Why is there a need now for "Relational Studies on the Global Crises"?

In the 21st century, due to the progress of globalization, there are a growing number of problems that are common and linked between areas traditionally defined by nations and geography. In this concatenation of events, we can see a tendency for local problems that emerge only in a small area to become issues that have a global impact. The fact that since June 2014 the "Islamic State (IS)" has expanded its power to various parts of a region, to Syria and Iraq, and the fact that in 2015 it expanded its target of attack to Europe and the United States, provides one example of the global spread of extremism and non-state networks. As a result of the Syrian Civil War, millions of refugees have flowed into Europe, and immigration in the international community, refugee relief and the establishment of a multi-cultural symbiotic society have become urgent humanitarian tasks, while the boycotting of immigrants has also begun. Various problems related to the global environment, such as natural disasters and infectious diseases, are also closely related to problems such as domestic poverty and unfairness, but such global issues cannot be dealt with by one state or certain groups of nation. They should be tackled globally.

Contemporary issues, such as these conflicts and tensions, and the social and political unfairness and discrimination in the background are showing us the important fact that what has been "common sense" in modern social sciences up to the 20th century, the sovereign nation and the international society centered on it, is collapsing; and the various systems that secured the stability and development of society are becoming dysfunctional.

However, there is no thesis yet which comprehensively analyzes any of the events of this "new crisis" from a comprehensive multi-disciplinary viewpoint. Cooperation on these tasks has not yet been established between the academic and practical fields.

The aim of this project of Scientific Research on Innovative Areas is to establish "Relational Studies on the Global Crises" as a new paradigm of multi-disciplinary and practical research that is centered on social sciences and area studies based on the fact that the relationships between various levels and the scale from the local to the global level are constantly changing and mutually influencing one another due to the globalization of information and thought, objects, money, and the movement of people. In order to understand modern global society, we have to analyze not only the subject itself but also the relationships within the subject, and the relationships among the various levels and scales in relation to each other. It is necessary to look at changes in relationships and their interrelatedness.

In other words, we need to work on this new crisis in front of us by gathering the knowledge of academics and putting into practice "integrated humanities and social sciences centered on interrelations" as a problem-solving type of applied science for "contemporary problems faced by the entirety of human beings" which can be regarded as a "new crisis." This is the purpose of this project of Scientific Research on Innovative Areas, "Relational Studies on Global Crises."

Beyond the limits of previous academic studies

Regarding conflicts and antagonism in modern global society, and the social reconstruction and nation building that are necessary as a result of these conflicts, there is conflict resolution and peace building studies and immigration and refugee studies. It will be necessary to incorporate the viewpoints of area studies in existing conflict studies in order to strongly reflect the local society's perspective on the local context, which is in the background of these conflicts, in order to make conflict resolution more consistent with the actual situation.

On the other hand, most area studies and comparative studies has tended to focus on analyzing the essence within their subject of study, but many phenomena behind the "new crisis" are caused by relationships and changes surrounding the subject and not by the essential factors within the subject

If we are looking for an academic field that deals with relationships, there is international relations theory. The basics of international relations theory are the relationships between countries, but now that the global order is dissolving, the dominance of the state entity is no longer self-evident. Therefore, it is necessary to grasp the relationship between various levels of subjects in a comprehensive manner.

While overcoming the limitations of existing humanities and social sciences, including area studies and international relations theory, this new project of "Relational Studies on the Global Crises" is an attempt to better understand the dynamics of the international political economy and its complicated interrelatedness. This leads to the creation of a new academic approach.

Significance of Japanese researchers tackling "Relational Studies on the Global Crises"

Since area studies in the West was developed as a kind of "research on the enemy" with states as their subject, its affinity with theory-centered social sciences has been debated for a long time. Also, the divergence between social sciences and humanities has become an obstacle to the establishment of an integrated academic system, and adequate solutions have not emerged. It is well understood by looking at the failures of the Iraq war and the post-war reconstruction that even though scholarly work was conducted that questioned the root of the problem in the field of humanities, such as in history, the fact that it was not reflected in policies caused serious tragedies.

On the other hand, area studies in Japan are multidisciplinary studies. Area studies in a broad sense has developed as an integrative discipline that includes the social sciences, the humanities, and the natural sciences. In this sense, Japanese area studies with local close-contact research on the premise of a deep understanding of language and history is distinct from Western-style foreign affairs research and research on enemy countries, and it is one of the major strengths of research on human affairs and social sciences in Japan. This new research project, based on area studies, will have the advantage of analyzing various phenomena of the current international situation from a flexible viewpoint and can have the potential of opening up a possible new approach in the current state of social sciences which is led by Europe and the United States.

The goals of "Relational Studies on the Global Crises"

The achievement of our attempt ultimately is to find the cause of the regional and global dislocation resulting from the collapse and loss of the community and its social bonds - global or local - by integrating all the human knowledge. Solving this problem leads to new ways of building and regenerating the community of the future.

It can also show us the direction for how to deal with crises in various regions in the international community, and how to get involved in various communities, ranging from the regional community to national and international society. For example, it can provide insights into how the state entity should respond to non-state networks arising in the power vacuums caused by a specific conflict, in the "responsibility to intervene/protect" and in problems of international cooperation. At the same time, it contributes to the establishment of necessary systems to solve empowerment and social justice issues, such as how a revitalized society can establish autonomy in a complicated relationship, or how refugee communities can avoid tense relations with host societies and gain socio-economic stability.

The new academic paradigm of "Relational Studies on the Global Crises," which is provided by this Scientific Research on Innovative Areas, addresses not only the crisis on the surface, such as conflicts, but also deals with every social tension, including discrimination and injustice. It overcomes the symptomatic nature of traditional conflict studies and creates a fundamental and comprehensive approach while keeping in mind the realization of a fair society that does not dominated by the specific world-view.

This will serve as a foundation for building a framework for the dissemination of academically supported guidelines and recommendations, and for the stability and coexistence of the international community. It can thus contribute to the creation of a "new world".