J. M. Bernstein, Adi Ophir, and Ann Laura Stoler, eds., Political Concepts: A Critical Lexicon (New York: Fordham University Press, 2018), 269 pp.
Conceptual Plasticity in Times of Urgency
Adrián Velázquez Ramírez
Something Happened to the Future
Reconstructing Temporalities in Dutch Parliamentary Debate, 1814–2018
Joris van Eijnatten and Pim Huijnen
This article stands in Reinhart Koselleck's tradition of investigating the historical experience of time. It focuses on the manner in which the experience and conceptualization of the future changed in Dutch parliamentary speech between 1814 and 2018. Based on a quantitative analysis of a corpus of political texts of more than 800 million tokens spanning more than two centuries, we argue that the future transformed from something unknown but principally predictable into a synonym for change itself during the final quarter of the twentieth century. We contend that this resulted in unpredictability becoming the future's defining trait and the future, consequently, losing its character as a knowledgeable singular in a process of what can be called “de-singularization.”
The Birth of International Conceptual History
In March 2020, Melvin Richter, one of the founders of international, conceptual history passed away. This sad occasion makes it timely in our journal to reflect on the process that turned national projects within conceptual and intellectual history into an international and transnational enterprise. The text that follows—published in two parts, here and in the next issue—takes a closer look at the intellectual processes that led up to the founding meeting of the association behind our journal, the History of Concepts Group. It follows in the footsteps of Melvin Richter to examine the different encounters, debates and protagonists in the story of international, conceptual history. The text traces the different approaches that were brought to the fore and particularly looks at Melvin Richter's efforts to bridge between an Anglophone tradition of intellectual history and a German tradition of Begriffsgeschichte.
The Concept of Religion in Meiji Popular Discourse
An Analysis of the Newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun
Makoto Harris Takao
This article challenges claims that the Japanese neologism shūkyō (as a translation for “religionȍ) lacked an established nature prior to the twentieth century and had little to do with experiences of the urban masses. It accordingly problematizes the term as a largely legal concept, highlighting historical newspapers as underutilized sources that offer insight into Meiji popular discourse and attendant conceptualizations of “religion.” This article endorses a shift in both our chronological understanding of shūkyō's conceptual history as well as its sociocultural mobility. By expanding the milieu understood as being familiar with debates on a range of “religious” issues, this article thereby offers a counter-narrative in which regular use of shūkyō begins to clearly emerge from the mid-1880s, exponentially increasing with the following decades.
Conceptual Explorations around “Politics”
Thematizing the Activity of Politics in the Plenary Debates of the German Bundestag
This article discusses the ways of conceptualizing politics in parliamentary debates. When the politics-vocabulary is ubiquitous in them, which kind of speech act lies in emphasizing the political aspect? Focusing on thematized uses allows us to identify conceptual revisions in the politics-vocabulary in digitalized plenary debates of the German Bundestag from 1949 to 2017. My fourfold scheme for conceptualizing politics (polity, policy, politicization, politicking) provides the analytical apparatus. The units of analysis in this study are compound words around politics written as single words, a German language specialty. Their frequency has remarkably risen in the Bundestag debates, and the search engine can easily find them. This research interest allows me to speculate with changes in the understanding and appreciation of politics in postwar (West)Germany
From an Economic Term to a Political Concept
The Conceptual Innovation of “Self-Management” in Soviet Estonia
The term “economic self-management” (in Estonian, isemajandamine) stood at the center of economic and political debates in Soviet Estonia in 19871988. This article traces its transformation from an economic term to a political concept, reconstructing the intellectual resources that the reformers were drawing on in this process. Navigating the constraints of Soviet discourse, reform-minded academics in Soviet Estonia radically expanded the original meaning of isemajandamine, which ultimately provided an argumentative platform for declaring the republics “sovereignty” within the Soviet Union. The article brings out the linguistic, political, and transnational dimensions of this conceptual innovation, which started in 1987 and was completed when the law on the “economic independence” of the Baltic republics was adopted by the Soviet Union in 1989.
On Reinhart Koselleck's Intellectual Relations to Carl Schmitt
Jan Eike Dunkhase, ed., Reinhart Koselleck/Carl Schmitt: Der Briefwechsel 1953–1983 [Reinhart Koselleck/Carl Schmitt: The correspondence 1953–1983] (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2019), 459 pp.
Sebastian Huhnholz, Von Carl Schmitt zu Hannah Arendt? Heidelberger Entstehungsspuren und bundesrepublikanische Liberalisierungsschichten von Reinhart Kosellecks “Kritik und Krise” [From Carl Schmitt to Hannah Arendt? On the Heidelbergian genesis and the West German liberalization layers of Reinhart Koselleck's “Kritik und Krise”] (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2019), 172 pp.
Tensions and Challenges of Intellectual History in Contemporary Latin America
This article provides an overview of some prominent aspects of intellectual history as practiced today in Latin America, especially regarding conceptual history. It delves into the way this methodology arrived to the region not long ago and discusses the way some of its practitioners combine it with the history of political languages, often ignoring the profound differences between both approaches. Therefore, the text stresses some of the most significant contrasts between them. In its last part, the article is critical of the purported “globality” of global intellectual history, an issue that is inextricably linked with the pervasive use of the English language in the field. Throughout, the text poses several of the challenges that lie ahead for intellectual history in Latin America.
Translating Science—Comparing Religions
Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) was a prominent South Asian reformer of Islam who focused on the reconciliation of science and Islam in his most influential texts. This article aims to analyze the implications of science becoming the dominant discourse in nineteenth-century South Asia for the conception of Islam and religion in general. Sayyid Ahmad is an intriguing example because he actively participated in religious as well as scientific discourses since as early as the 1830s. After a concise outline of his early writings, his stances toward science and reason shall be compared with his later writings, primarily those written after 1870, to uncover the impact of the increasing influence of science in South Asia during the latter half of the nineteenth century. In his later writings, Sayyid Ahmad accomplishes a complex effort of translation, claiming mutual compatibility of science and Islam. The question of how this influences his conception of Islam and religion will be addressed, exploring whether this process should be described as a mere adoption of foreign discourse? Or does it trigger transformative effects?
The Right to Housing in a Pandemic
In the US, quarantine requires we stay home, but many do not have homes to stay in or may lose theirs due to job or wage loss. For this reason, moratoria have been put on evictions. At the same time, after the latest police killings, and during ensuing protests against racist policing in June 2020, some were arrested for curfew violations, many pulled off the streets but others out of their homes or off their stoops. A real right to housing addresses both homelessness and uncurbed police powers that round up and break in. To address current emergencies and correct larger wrongs of American life, a rent jubilee would better protect tenants than a moratorium. It could be construed as a “taking,” allowed by the 5th Amendment, compensating landlords for their properties’ being taken to serve a “public use.” Popular takings, too, are rising up on behalf of a right to housing that goes beyond rent moratoria for some and the provision of low-grade “public housing” for others.