Can Koselleck Travel? Theory of History and the Problem of the Universal

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
Margrit Pernau Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Germany

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The methodology and theory developed by Koselleck has been successfully spread globally. Less attention has been devoted to reflections on the conditions and possibilities of universalizing his approach beyond the geographical area on the basis of which it was developed. This article proposes to reread Koselleck's three core contributions to the theory of history—the anthropological constants, the contemporaneity of the non-contemporaneous, and the Sattelzeit—from a postcolonial viewpoint. Empirically it is based on the history of the South Asian Muslims, exploring how Koselleck can help raise new questions, but also how the change in the geographical viewpoint may lead to a reconsideration of some of his assumptions.

Contributor Notes

Margrit Pernau is a Senior Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development at the Center for the History of Emotions. E-mail:

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