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Times of Democracy

The Unavoidable Democracy of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Denmark

Anne Engelst Nørgaard

Abstract

Democracy became a popular and highly contested concept in the Danish-speaking parts of the Danish monarchy in 1848. For a brief time, it went from being an occasional guest in political language to a popular concept in the constitutional struggle of 1848–1849. This article argues democracy became attached to an equally popular concept of the time, movement, when introduced into everyday political communication in Denmark. In this context, democracy became a name for the movement observed in Europe and in the Danish monarchy. The article identifies three main interpretations of democracy that occurred in the Danish constitutional struggle of 1848–1849 and argues the battle over the constitution was essentially a battle over how one interpreted the past, the present, and the future. Democracy became a key term in this battle in 1848 Denmark.

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“Amazing Rapidity”

Time, Public Credit, and David Hume's Political Discourses

Edward Jones Corredera

Abstract

This article explores David Hume's views on public credit, the state, and geopolitics as outlined in his Political Discourses. By drawing attention to Hume's analysis of the speed of political economic dynamics, the article suggests the philosopher feared that public credit, a crucial source of eighteenth-century European economic growth, fundamentally revolutionized the pace of social relations, the mechanics of the state, and European geopolitics at large. Hume's study of public credit highlighted its role in reshaping eighteenth-century visions of time, and the philosopher's disappointment with his own solution, in turn, reinforces the need to consider the multifaceted effects of public credit in the modern world.

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Distributional Concept Analysis

A Computational Model for History of Concepts

Peter De Bolla, Ewan Jones, Paul Nulty, Gabriel Recchia, and John Regan

Abstract

This article proposes a novel computational method for discerning the structure and history of concepts. Based on the analysis of co-occurrence data in large data sets, the method creates a measure of “binding” that enables the construction of verbal constellations that comprise the larger units, “concepts,” that change over time. In contrast to investigation into semantic networks, our method seeks to uncover structures of conceptual operation that are not simply semantic. These larger units of lexical operation that are visualized as interconnected networks may have underlying rules of formation and operation that have as yet unexamined—perhaps tangential—connection to meaning as such. The article is thus exploratory and intended to open the history of concepts to some new avenues of investigation.

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Genealogy of the Concept of Heritage in the European Commission's Policy Discourse

Tuuli Lähdesmäki, Sigrid Kaasik-Krogerus, and Katja Mäkinen

Abstract

This article investigates the genealogy of the concept of heritage in the European Commission's (EC) policy discourse from 1973 to 2016. Based on conceptual analysis of 2,412 documents gathered from the EUR-Lex database, the uses of the concept in the EC's policy discourse were categorized into seven thematic areas: nature, environment, and biodiversity; human habitats; economy and employment; agricultural products and foodstuffs; promotion of societal development and stability; audiovisuality and digitalization; and European identity and integration. In the EC's discourse, heritage develops in the context of intertwined phases of EU integration and cultural Europeanization. The study indicates how the EC governs heritage mostly through implicit cultural policies included in diverse policy sectors other than culture.

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Like a Tumbleweed in Eden

The Diasporic Lives of Concepts

Banu Subramaniam

Abstract

People, plants, and animals travel; so do theories, ideas, and concepts. Concepts migrate across disciplines—from the sciences to the humanities and back—often repurposed to theorize new objects in new contexts. Many terms span species and disciplines, from human contexts in ethnic studies, post/colonial studies to scientific/biological terminology: native, alien, local, foreign, colonizer, colonized, naturalized, pioneer, refugee, founder, resident. In this article, I explore concepts around mobility and “migration” and how the values and political contexts accompanying these concepts circulate across geopolitical and scientific terrains. In extending theories of migration to examining the history of science, I explore the migrations and diasporic lives of concepts.

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Ottoman Conceptual History

Challenges and Prospects

Alp Eren Topal and Einar Wigen

Abstract

In this article, we discuss the pitfalls and benefits of conceptual history as an approach to Ottoman studies. While Ottoman studies is blossoming and using a wider set of tools to study the Ottoman past, Ottoman intellectual history is still resigned to a life-and-works approach. This absence of synthesizing attempts has left intellectual history in the margins. In addition to the lack of new, theoretically sophisticated accounts of how Ottoman intellectual and political changes were intertwined, the old Orientalist works still hold canonical status in the field. Drawing on recent developments in social and political history, conceptual history may be a good way of doing self-reflective longue durée intellectual history. Ottoman conceptual history may also offer nonspecialists more sophisticated bases for comparison with non-Ottoman cases.

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Republican Liberty and the Pindaric Genealogy of Modern Abstractions

Boris Maslov

Abstract

Pindaric odes written around the time of the French Revolution have a penchant for abstractions. Apostrophized Liberty, Fortune, Virtue, and Joy, which replaced the monarch as the ode's addressee, attest to the numinous prehistory of distinctively modern concepts that Reinhart Koselleck termed “collective singulars.” In particular, eighteenth-century Pindarics put forward representations of Liberty prevailing over an unenlightened past, which conform to the schema of victorious encounter established in Pindar's epinician odes. The article dwells closely on two ostensibly pro-revolutionary and highly influential texts in the Pindaric mold, Alexander Radishchev's Liberty and Friedrich Schiller's To Joy, which share a concept of freedom that diverges from both the republican and the liberal interpretations.

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Reviews

Hugo Bonin and Aleksandra Konarzewska

Pasi Ihalainen, The Springs of Democracy: National and Transnational Debates on Constitutional Reform in the British, German, Swedish and Finnish Parliaments, 1917–1919 (Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2017), 586 pp.

Gregor Feindt, Auf der Suche nach politischer Gemeinschaft: Oppositionelles Denken zur Nation im ostmitteleuropäischen Samizdat 1976–1992 [Seeking political community: Oppositional political thought toward the nation in Eastern Central European samizdat] (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015), 403 pp.

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The Conceptual and Anthropological History of Bat Mitzvah

Two Lexical Paths and Two Jewish Identities

Hizky Shoham

ABSTARCT

This article aims to form a conversation between conceptual history and anthropological history, taking bat mitzvah, the coming-of-age ceremony for Jewish girls, as a test case. The term is shown to have two main conceptual meanings: first, the new religious status that a Jewish girl acquires—that of an adult obligated by the precepts of Jewish law—and second, the event or ritual marking this milestone. The close examination of the concept’s various meanings in different Jewish languages tracks its development from its hesitant beginnings in the nineteenth century to its emergence as a key concept that refers to a central ceremony in the Jewish world of the twentieth century. From that point, the article follows the two lexical paths that bat mitzvah has traveled, in the United States and in Israel, and highlights a basic anthropological difference in the ceremony’s social function.

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Koselleck’s Historik and the Horizons of Politics

Blake Ewing

ABSTARCT

Political theorists, especially in the subfield of ideology studies, continue to draw insights from Begriffsgeschichte (conceptual history) to help them better analyze the morphology of political concepts over time. However, other aspects of Reinhart Koselleck’s work remain underutilized. This is especially true of the connections between Begriffsgeschichte and his development of a theory of history (Historik), dealing with the broader intersection of language, structure, and the experience of time. This article focuses on just one aspect of this intersection: on the potential relevance of Koselleck’s use of the concept of horizon to theorize a particular “horizonal mode” of the politics of time. After discussing some relevant features of the horizon metaphor, the article moves to reappraise Koselleck’s use of the concept before elaborating and expanding on it to claim that Koselleck helps to showcase the contestation of different temporal horizons as a core feature of political thinking.