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Minutes of the Ordinary General Meeting

December 13, 2016

United Kingdom Council of Area Studies Associations (UKCASA)

Ordinary General Meeting


2.30pm 29 June 2016


Venue: UCL Institute of the Americas, UCL, 51 Gordon Square, London



Tony Chafer, The Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France, ASMCF (President);

Emma Linnemann, University Association for Contemporary European Studies, UACES;

Tony McCulloch, British Association for Canadian Studies, BACS;

Uta Balbier, British Association for American Studies, BAAS;

Rajesh Venugopal, British Association for South Asian Studies, BASAS;

Michael Charney, SOAS;

John Fisher, Society for Latin American Studies, SLAS;

Paul Starkey, British Society for Middle Eastern Studies, BRISMES;

Rikki Morgan-Tamosunas, Association of Contemporary Iberian Studies, ACIS;

Susan Hodgett, British Association for Canadian Studies, BACS (Treasurer);

Jon Oldfield, British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies, BASEES (Secretary).



Mark Gant, Brian Ward


The meeting was opened by a talk from Professor Michel Hockx, SOAS, former Chair of the British Association of Chinese Studies. The talk was entitled ‘LBAS, HEFCE PSS, and UK Area Studies’ and reflected upon recent changes in support for Chinese studies, and Area Studies in general, within the UK HE sector.

Professor Hockx began by considering changes in the character of Chinese Studies within the UK over the course of the last two decades. He noted the generally positive trends in terms of student numbers over this period and the associated increase in institutional support. In addition, he underlined the tendency for the sector to rely on non-British academics pointing at an issue with access to postgraduate level training for UK students.


Professor Hockx then reflected on the shifting terrain of national initiatives aimed at supporting language-based areas studies in general e.g. 2006-12 LBAS initiative funded by the ESRC /AHRC and the more recent AHRC-funded initiative in this area (2012-15). It was within this context that the HEFCE Postgraduate Support Scheme (PSS) emerged (2014-15) with a focus on benefiting students at PGT level. Successful initiatives under the scheme included an LBAS consortium led by SOAS (partner institutions included: BICC, WREAC, CASAW) which was focused on the Arab World, China, Japan, Korea, South Asia. The consortium provided 2-year MA Programmes with scholarship support with an emphasis on language training either as part of the disciplinary Masters or else running in tandem with the Masters programme. The initiative was also supported by outreach events and additional training.


The scheme was successful in assisting the movement of UK students into these subject areas in 2014-15. As part of a series of concluding remarks, Professor Hockx noted that Area Studies in the UK remained heavily shaped by Anglophone paradigms, whereby the integration of language training/specialisms into Area Studies is seen as problematic.


Business meeting

  1. Apologies were received (see above).
  2. Previous minutes and matters arising

A few typographical errors were noted in the minutes and these would be corrected.


The Chair reported that issues of accessing the website had now been resolved and the website had been updated. He asked member association representatives to check that relevant details were correct and up to date.


3.Susan Hodgett outlined the work of the new AHRC-supported initiative ‘Blurring Genres Network: Recovering the Humanities for Political Science and Area Studies’. This project will put in place a network of scholars and policy-makers to explore innovations in theory and practice in recovering the research methods of the Arts and Humanities encouraging their use by Political Scientists, Area Studies scholars and policy-makers in the UK and beyond. The initiative will run over 18 months and consist of 6 meetings:


  1. Politics as Drama – SOAS, University of London – Tues. 28 June 2016
  2. Policy as Stories and Narratives – Home Office, London – Friday 18 November 2016
  3. Politics as History – Manchester University – Monday 27 February 2017
  4. Politics as Anthropology – University of Southampton – Friday 23 June 2017
  5. Politics as Literature – University of California Berkeley – Wed. 6 September 2017
  6. Politics as Philosophy – Ulster University – Friday 17 November 2017


Information concerning the scheduled events will be disseminated to members of UKCASA.




4.Report on Chair’s work (since November 2015)

  1. The proposed meeting with the REF Manager had not taken place as no REF Manager was currently in place.


  1. The Chair had met with Ben Johnson – Higher Education Policy Adviser at HEFCE and currently responsible for overseeing REF 2020 preparations. HEFCE is waiting to see the findings of the Stern Review which are due early July. If the Stern Review is forthcoming in July, HEFCE will aim to publish consultation documents on REF 2020 during the autumn 2016. Further delay in the basic outline of REF 2020 may well see the census date pushed back. There seems to be no real appetite in HEFCE for major changes to Panel configurations.


A key area of interest for HEFCE with regard to the REF 2020 process is interdisciplinarity. The Chair highlighted the following report: Review of the UK’s Interdisciplinary Research,,104883,en.html, which members may be interested in accessing.


Linked to this, it was noted that HEFCE is interested to meet with the Areas Studies community in order to discuss interdisciplinarity and the REF.


  1. It was noted that as a number of member associations were not actively using Twitter accounts, communication from UKCASA remained predominantly via email.


As part of this, member representatives were now being emailed requests for oral/written evidence from the Parliamentary Outreach group.


  1. Susan Hodgett and the Chair met with representatives of the British Academy in connection with the BA’s own project on interdisciplinarity. The associated report will be launched on the 12 July 2016.


  1. The Chair had made a submission to the Stern Review on behalf of UKCASA. He noted that the document reflected key points articulated by member associations. It was also noted that other member associations had responded independently.


  1. The Chair had consolidated links with the Arts and Humanities Alliance and had attended their January meeting. This had included discussion of the AHRC’s Doctoral Training grant initiative.


  1. The Chair asked for further views on interdisciplinarity from member associations.


  1. Future activities: the Chair flagged a possible 1-day UKCASA event (e.g. to be held at the British Academy).


He also suggested that member associations might consider convening a cross-disciplinary /comparative panel at their annual conferences in order to strengthen the position of Area Studies.


  1. Treasurers/ membership report – Susan Hodgett noted no change in membership since November.


The association’s financial resources were gradually decreasing and currently stood at: £1119.28.


The Chair requested approval to pay a small honorarium (£150) to the postgraduate who had assisted in revamping and updating UKCASA’s website. This was agreed.


  1. Member Association announcements

Members reported healthy activity with respect to their own subject associations.

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