OSGA Annual Lecture 2024

Convener: Professor Paul Chaisty

Speaker: Professor Delphine Allès

Over the past two decades, area studies have been rejuvenated by new forms of engagement with disciplinary knowledge and especially by the push towards de-centering concepts and references in the social sciences. It is generally accepted that area-based knowledge provides important contributions to the ongoing endeavours to developing frameworks of analysis based on a pluralistic understanding of universalism. Areal knowledge is a necessary condition to analyzing a world of multi-crises, often rooted in identity claims, and where the legitimacy of global governance is questioned on the grounds of its presumed Eurocentrism. In many contexts, however, the increasing restrictions on academic freedom, combined with the politicization of knowledge production and technological transformations, raise new challenges for the conduct and legitimacy of area studies. Taking stock of this critical context, the lecture will emphasize its continuities with a long record of challenges faced – and overcome – by area studies since their emergence. It will argue that the current crises, rather than fragilizing area studies, underscore their critical role in generating knowledge on regional and global affairs – provided they address the epistemological, methodological and ethical transformations prompted by this context, and find a proper balance of academic independence and policy relevance.


Delphine Allès is a professor of Political science and Southeast Asian studies at Inalco University (France), where she currently serves as vice-President. Her research, rooted in a global IR perspective and Indonesian case studies, has mainly focused on the confessionalisation of international relations and the transformations of international policies and multilateral arrangements in the Indo-Pacific. Her more recent projects assess the construction of “national schools” of international relations as well as the rehabilitation of non-aligned narratives. She is the author of Paix et sécurité. Une anthologie décentrée (Peace and Security. A de-Centred Anthology – ed. with Melissa Levaillant and Sonia Le Gouriellec, CNRS, 2023) ; La part des dieux. Religion et relations internationales (Gods’ Share. Religion and International Relations – CNRS, 2021); Transnational Islamic Actors and Indonesian Foreign Policy (Routledge, 2016).