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About Us

TINDOWS Brief introduction


Development, modern medicine, and nature conservation and management are generally regarded as modern technologies backed by techno-rational universality. However, they are not simply “carriers of modernity” flowing unilaterally from Western societies to economically developing countries, but are instead open to constant negotiations, disruptions, and creative modifications. Historical studies have revealed that interaction between empires and their colonies, in which the former attempted (and often failed) to govern the diverse socio-ecological environments of the latter, was deeply implicated in the growth and materialization of “scientific” knowledge and institutions. Development and global health studies of more recent times imply that the application of seemingly universal technologies in many parts of the globe often brings about diverse forms, practices, and realities.


Keeping in mind such historical dynamism and diversity of experiences, TINDOWS examines contemporary challenges related to development, medicine, and environment in the Indian Ocean World. Our emphases are three, although they are inter-related and often overlapping: 1) securing a socioeconomic and ecological foundation for sustainable development, 2) issues of urbanization and management of natural resources and the environment, and 3) medical interventions and practices related to health and reproduction. The topics targeted for examination also include climate change, consequences of pandemics, global governance, human security, correction of global economic imbalances, etc., because these “global” issues increasingly manifest themselves in profoundly local forms, giving rise to severe difficulties related to social well-being.


The conventional approach used for area studies has generally been to identify certain regional traits (ecological conditions, social structure, value systems, etc.), or the workings or failures of the nation-state, as the cause of underdevelopment, or as determinants of “development paths” distinct from the Western model. However, as described previously, not only are boundaries between the West and the non-West debatable: social problems related to development, medicine, and environment are becoming ever-more borderless and inter-related. TINDOWS seriously addresses the diversity of experiences and cultural values. However, they are regarded not as essential, ever-lasting traits of a region, but as an outcome of historically accumulated networks. Therefore, we examine the ways in which certain knowledge, technologies, values, and actors intervene in the practices, thereby shaping the local realities and social imagination. We incorporate the latest methodologies such as information science and large-scale data processing to identify difficulties and characteristics that were formerly indiscernible. By combining such diverse approaches, we aim to clarify and define a scope of challenges that are of utmost urgency in South(east) Asian and African regions, with the aim of examining the historical conditions of the present from a cross-disciplinary and inter-regional comparative perspective.

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