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Illness, Metaphor, and Bells

Campanology under COVID-19

Remi Chiu

Throughout 2020 and 2021, bells have rung in a variety of COVID-related rituals in the West, ranging from large-scale religious and civic rites, to ad hoc neighborhood and hospital initiatives, to anti-racist memorials that simultaneously spoke to the health crisis at hand. Taking stock of how these COVID bell-ringing rituals were formalized, their structures and actions, and the historical precedents from which they drew their meanings, this article investigates what the sounds of bells and the rituals of bell-ringing communicated about COVID, how they shaped our personal and collective experiences of the crisis, and what functions they were expected to serve during this liminal period. It reveals how, owing to the historical polysemy of bells on the one hand and the social uncertainties of living with COVID on the other, those rituals generated vivid symbolisms and mobilized powerful emotions that sometimes brought about unintended consequences.

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Between Science and Utopia

Physical and Astronomical Notions within French and Polish Fourierism

Piotr Kuligowski and Quentin Schwanck

Abstract

This article investigates the role of physical and astronomical notions in the formation process of transnational political ideologies. It does so by focusing on the striking example of nineteenth-century early socialist movements, particularly Fourierism. Indeed, Fourier's bold cosmogony enabled him to connect many fields of knowledge, and soon became a powerful vehicle for his ideas on the international scale. The article likewise analyses the ideological process through which Fourierist astronomical conceptions were adopted by foreign socialists, focusing on examples of Polish thinkers such as Jan Czyński and Stanisław Bratkowski who, in drawing on Fourierist ideas and usage of scientific terms, tried to embed his vocabulary in the ongoing nineteenth-century debates about Polish history and, more generally, the burning issue of the independence of the Polish state. Our comparative analysis highlights the contextual influences which contributed to re-shaping such ideas within a new absorbing context.

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Concepts, Beliefs, and Their Constellations

A Proposal for Analytical Categories in the Study of Human Thought

Ilkka Kärrylä

Abstract

The article argues that all disciplines examining human thought could use certain shared analytical categories. This would not mean eradicating all differences between various approaches such as intellectual history and discourse analysis, but acknowledging that they are examining partly the same basic entities. The article argues that ideational entities in human thought could be understood as concepts, beliefs, and their constellations. The article discusses the views of scholars who have theorized similar categories and shows how these can be studied through historical language use. Shared analytical categories would enhance interdisciplinary dialogue between scholars of human thought and allow more rigorous debates on issues that truly divide different disciplines, such as the explanatory values of human agency and structures.

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Benoît Godin

Abstract

Innovation is a key concept of modernity. It acquired its lettres de noblesse in the twentieth century, thanks to or because of economics and technology. However, for centuries the concept was essentially pejorative. How can we explain this connotation? This article suggests that one of the crucial moments is the Reformation. Using official documents of the time, the article studies the vocabulary of the English Reformation and documents the meanings and the uses made of innovation. The article suggests that innovation served two functions or purposes: an injunction (not to innovate) and an accusation of non-conformity. Thereafter, innovation became a linguistic tool of polemic.

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Huaiyu Chen

Abstract

East German sinologists organized an international conference on East Asian studies in Leipzig in October 1955, bringing together scholars from most communist states and several scholars from Western Europe. This conference served to unite sinologists from both the Communist Bloc and West Germany in the early Cold War era. Since the Chinese delegation was particularly honored, this article suggests that China expanded its political influence in East Europe after the Korean War and the death of Stalin, which prompted a tension within the international communist community, especially between China and the Soviet Union. Moreover, this conference demonstrated a strong “modern turn” in the rising field of Asian studies, sinology in particular, because of the rise of the People's Republic of China in the 1950s.

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From Femicide to Feminicidio

Latin American Contributions to Feminist Conceptual History

Camila Ordorica

Abstract

Feminisms in the second half of the twentieth century were reshaped by the efforts to end violence against women. Feminist activists in national and international settings invented concepts to refer to previously unquestioned societal practices as oppressive to women and changed the world by naming them. In this article, I engage with the concepts of femicide/feminicidio (f/f): the murder of women for gender reasons. I follow the history of this concept and its incursion into the broader political and public sphere in Latin America. Focusing on the Mexican case, I show how the study of national feminist histories is relevant to the history of women's activism in the international arena. This article contributes to the history of concepts by showing the linguistic distinctions and connections of feminist concepts in different sociocultural environments. Overall, this research argues in favor of studying feminist concepts with Latin American perspectives to articulate the complexity of the world today.

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From Illiberal State to Christian Values

Naming the Current Politics of Hungary

Heino Nyyssönen and Jussi Metsälä

Abstract

This article examines the problematic phenomenon of political naming through conceptual history. It is evident that illiberal is an ambiguous term and determining what it means is challenging, not to mention the political aspects of the name itself. We claim that naming is a political act par excellence and test our hypothesis by examining Viktor Orbán's Băile Tuşnad speeches between 2014 and 2019 and the annual State of the Nation speeches between 2015 and 2020. We claim that even Orbán has difficulties in naming his political system. Moreover, we link naming to discussions concerning democracy. In Hungary, this “illiberal” position enables a ruling party to act in accordance with a purely majoritarian form of democracy, that is, to implement legislation with very little regard to the opposition, and by concentrating power to the party and especially to its leader.

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Ekaterina Smirnova

Abstract

Why, for a long time, was there no linguistic means to distinguish between the concepts experience and experiment in many European languages, such as Italian, French, and Russian? Was the Russian case influenced by French culture? This article addresses these issues. The most important finding of the study is that no idea of personal experience existed in Russian literature before the second half of the eighteenth century, and the word opyt was later borrowed from the scientific lexicon for expressing the meaning of experience. This is the opposite of what happened in other European languages. This suggests that the concept of experiment is more basic in the Russian mentality. Experience grows from experiment but not vice versa. All these aspects of the semantic history of “experiment” and “experience” are illustrated with extensive textual citations found in the Russian National Corpus and in the electronic library of Institute of Russian Literature.

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Etienne Lock

Abstract

This article examines the issue of identity as expressed in the historical journey of the intellectual movement Présence Africaine. It highlights a fundamental dimension of the commitment of that movement not yet explored in academic research. The current study uncovers the challenges and the great events that shaped the reputation of Présence Africaine as an African intellectual movement with a journal and a publishing house. It also deals with the identity issue through philosophical and theological debates as well as in reference to the independence era in Africa. The relevance of such a study is due to the topicality of the identity issue for contemporary societies.

Résumé

Cet article est une réflexion sur la question identitaire telle que portée et exprimée dans l'itinéraire historique du mouvement Présence Africaine. Il met en exergue une dimension fondamentale, voire l'essence même de l'engagement de ce mouvement, jusqu'ici non explorée. Tout en faisant redécouvrir les défis et de grands événements qui ont fait la notoriété de Présence Africaine soutenue par une revue et une maison d'édition, cette réflexion s'articule aussi autour des débats philosophiques et théologiques au sein de ce mouvement, et se déploie par ailleurs en référence aux indépendances africaines. L'opportunité d'une telle réflexion s'explique par le fait que la question identitaire reste un enjeu important pour les sociétés contemporaines.

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The Leftist “Imagined Community”

The Transnational Imagination of Left-Wing Subversive Organizations in Western Europe

Mikuláš Pešta

Abstract

This article concerns radical leftist subversive organizations in Western Europe in the 1970s and 1980s and their transnational shared imagination. It shows that despite the scarcity of direct contacts, there existed a sense of belonging to the same transnational current, the “imagined community.” On selected criteria (Images – Semantics – Practice), the article provides analysis of the shared tropes in self-perception and in the communication. The patterns were shared among the Western European subversive organizations but also imported from the countries of the Global South. The article further presents the lack of effort of the subversive organizations to create their own mark and graphic identity, whether consciously or not, to become a part of the “global anti-imperialist front.” It puts into question the utility of the traditional categorization of subversive organizations and discusses the use of the term “terrorism” regarding its self-perception and global context.