theory, practice, and discipline

A friend of mine recently started a discussion on Facebook that touched onto several topics within academic Asian American studies. One issue brought up offhandedly was the place of “theory” within both AAS and academia generally. In the discussion, which was about bridging disciplines and doing interdisciplinary work, the participants distinguished between cultural studies scholars who use “theory” and social science scholars who analyze and accumulate “data.” While I understand their point and their reasoning, the distinction they make is false and the short-hand terms they and other academics, mostly in humanities, use require further examination.

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