Against Interdisciplinarity

I really don’t get the idea of interdisciplinarity. Why not just study what you want to study, or practice the way you want to practice? People who claim to be interdisciplinary start by drawing a whole lot of circles on the ground, and then saying they stand in outside or between them. But why draw the circles? And if other people are the ones drawing the circles, why reinforce them? Of course, I’ve never had the misfortune of being marginalised or ejected from an institution for not upholding the party lines (I know some have, and i’m sure this has been traumatic).

Off the top of my head, there might be two factors at play here, belonging to the culture of academic postmodernism. Firstly, certain strands of late postmodernism (or at least certain strands of it) valued marginality. This began with the desire to give attention and voice to the marginalised, but ended up in valuing marginality in and of itself. Secondly, the concept of ‘critique’ as it is deployed in Critical Theory, is based on having something to subvert or deconstruct; and disciplinary boundaries with their institutional politics are ripe for this.

Anyway, I just feel like interdisciplinarity is such a negative, subservient concept. The Deleuzio-Guattarian concepts of the plateau or the rhizome seems much more valuable: open, fluid, and not defining themselves by what they aren’t. </vent>

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2 thoughts on “Against Interdisciplinarity

  1. I was watching this The Future of History: Geographies of Modernity
    http://webcasts.gsd.harvard.edu/gsdlectures/s2010/LAhist.mov

    lecture recently and Steven Daniels from (from U of Nottingham and Director the AHRC programme in landscape and environment) noted that archaeologists are really big on this exact idea. For them it isn’t about interdisciplinarity but multidisciplinarity. Which is more about teamwork than one scholar working in different disciplines.

  2. Pingback: zone comprised of an invisible pattern of ownership and maintenance jurisdictions, railroadlands and easements. « Thoughts on Everything under the Sun or I am a guilty Secularist

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