Conceptual Universalization and the Role of the Peripheries

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
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  • 1 University of Helsinki stefan.nygard@helsinki.fi
  • 2 University of Helsinki johan.strang@helsinki.fi
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ABSTRACT

Why are some intellectual milieus more prone to universalism than others? Ultimately, it is about power and who can afford to ignore whom. While the international status and recognition of a specific intellectual community—linguistic, urban, national, or regional—are obvious factors, they do not fully account for why the step from local experience to universal claim is shorter for some and longer for others. By combining an actor-oriented discussion of the processes through which intellectuals claim universal validity and applicability for concepts with a discussion of center-periphery tensions in transnational exchange, this article explores the logic of conceptual universalization from the perspective of the European margins.