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THE GLOBAL UNIVERSITY, AREA STUDIES, AND THE WORLD CITIZEN: Neoliberal Geography's Redistribution of the “World”



In the middle of both recessionary financial constraints and new developments in what are often called “neoliberal” global economics, a number of high-profile North American universities are creating new campuses in locations around the world. Conceptually different than an older model of study abroad sites, they are also helping to create a new geography of “area,” that includes shifting conceptions of citizenship, sovereignty, and cultural difference. The claims being made about them are large: they are being described as central components within a historical “inflection point” in the very nature of humanity; the reorganization of the university is thus at once part of the reorganization of human geography, and of the categories by which we conceive of social life. This article examines both the new kinds of global social space that these universities are helping to define, and the restructuring of the “global university” itself; both are placed within the context of the neoliberal principles that are motivating the construction of these new world spaces. Indifference is a key element of these principles; this article considers the varied implications of neoliberal indifference. [area studies, neoliberalism, globalization, cities, difference, citizenship and sovereignty, social form]