The establishing of South Asian studies in America during the decades following the WWII marked an important shift in the study of South Asia from Oriental studies and Indology towards an interdisciplinary area studies approach which tried to treat this area as objects of social sciences and humanities. During the ensuing decade, the earnest scholarship begun with the leading universities, such as the University of Chicago, University of Pennsylvania; all fostered new projects focused on South Asia. They had emphasized study of other cultures for broadly humanistic reasons; not tied to any governmental definition of national interest as was fashionable in the 1950s. They aimed not at producing useful expertise, but at increasing international understanding. This article begins with a brief account of the political, intellectual, and institutional roots of South Asian studies in the American academy. It then turns to both the critiques of South Asian studies and the challenges and contributions they have brought to the disciplines and to global knowledge. By presenting the evolution and challenges of South Asian studies in the American academy, this article is also an attempt to address the prospect of South Asian studies in Taiwan that might be useful for students, faculty, and administrators in the context of current discussions.
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