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Editorial Note

The Editors

With this issue, Contributions to the History of Concepts, a publication of the History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG), relaunches under the auspices of a new publisher and new sponsorship, and with a new editorial team. Berghahn Journals, the new publisher, is an independent scholarly publisher in the humanities and social sciences. The new host and sponsor is the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, an intellectual center for the interdisciplinary study and discussion of issues related to philosophy, society, culture and education.

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The European Conceptual History Project (ECHP)

Mission Statement

Editorial Board

After a complex integration process which has taken more than half a century, most Europeans—and non-Europeans—no longer identify Europe with simply an economic common market; yet the final political status of the European Union is still an open question. In general, Europe is usually regarded as the birthplace of a set of values claiming universal validity and serving as the basic political reference for citizens and institutions throughout the world. The emergence and spread of such significant concepts as civilization, democracy, liberalism, parliamentarism, (human) rights, or tolerance, for example, are generally associated with modern European history.

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Gender, History, and Heritage in Ireland and Scotland

Medieval to Modern

Elizabeth C. Macknight

This special issue of Historical Reflections/Réflexions Historiques derives from panel sessions for the Irish-Scottish Academic Initiative (ISAI) conference held at the University of Aberdeen in October 2009. The conference marked the tenth anniversary of the founding of Aberdeen’s Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies. It was also the first ISAI conference to feature panel sessions dedicated to the study of gender in Irish and Scottish history. The overarching theme of the conferenceGlobal Nations? Irish and Scottish Expansionencouraged discussion of the ways in which the history and heritage of Ireland and Scotland are interpreted and understood both within those countries and abroad. In the two panels on gender, history, and heritage we sought to interrogate past and present notions of Irish and Scottish identity through the lens of gender by bringing together speakers from universities and the heritage sector.

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Elites and their Representation

Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives

Jean-Pascal Daloz

The term “elite” was introduced in the seventeenth century to describe commodities of an exceptional standard and the usage was later extended to designate social groups at the apex of societies. The study of these groups was established as part of the social sciences in the late nineteenth century, mainly as a result of the work of three sociologists: Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca and Roberto Michels. The core of their doctrine is that at the top of every society lies, inevitably, a small minority which holds power, controls the key resources and makes the major decisions. Since then, the concept of elite(s) has been used in several disciplines such as anthropology, history or political science, but not necessarily in reference to this “classical elite theory.” The concept is strongly rejected, however, by many “progressive” scholars—precisely because of its elitist denotation.

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Colonial Violence

Samuel Kalman

Few scholars today question the binary relationship between imperialism and violence, and French historians are no exception. In recent years, a multitude of studies have appeared concerning the violence inherent in the conquest of the nineteenth-century Gallic empire, the maintenance and defense of the colonial system, and the decolonization process—massacres and torture during the Algerian War, for example. Such works often reflect Etienne Balibar’s definition of “structural violence”: an essential component of a repressive system, maintaining unequal social relations while defending “the interests, power positions, and forms of social domination.”1 This hegemony took various guises at different times throughout the history of French imperialism, operating in tandem with assaults on the indigènes (the term adopted by the authorities for natives). It could involve surveillance and intelligence gathering, security forces, and judicial-penal institutions employed to harass and control the colonized. Yet it also resulted from the forced pacification of native peoples (Alice Conklin refers to this policy as an “act of state-sanctioned violence”) and the imposition of the indigénat—the loose collection of rules that granted extraordinary police and disciplinary powers to the colonial administration, along with the imposition of forced labor and taxation.2 The ultimate defense of this system, and indeed its brutal apogee, emerged during the wars of decolonization, in which tens of thousands of the colonized were killed in Algeria and Indochina, while countless others were subjected to torture and incarceration.

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Historians Reflecting on History and Historical Writing, Number 1

Linda E. Mitchell

This first issue of the second decade of the twenty-first century launches a new occasional series for Historical Refl ections/Réfl exions Historiques: “Historians Reflecting on History and Historical Writing.” The mission of the journal makes this topic particularly appropriate.

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Contents Volume 5 (2009)

Contents Volume 5 (2009)

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The Politics of French and German Cinema, 1930-1945

Brett Bowles

The politics of French and German cinema between the onset of the Great Depression and the end of World War II is far from a new topic of study. However, scholars have typically focused on one country or the other, rather than comparing the two, and prioritized high-profile directors (for example, Jean Renoir, Jean-Paul Le Chanois, Leni Riefenstahl, and Veit Harlan) whose work benefited from direct party sponsorship and served a clearly propagandistic function. Reflecting the evolution of cultural history and film studies over the past decade, this collection of essays seeks to enrich the traditional approach in three ways. The first is by expanding the definition of politics beyond official party or state discourse to include power-related issues such as representation of gender and gender roles; access to material resources including funding and technology; relationships between film creators and industry or government officials; and competition between commercial and ideological priorities in film production, censorship, and distribution.

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Introduction

Bodies and Machines in Enlightenment Descriptions of the State

Pasi Ihalainen

This thematic section of Contributions to the History of Concepts takes up the necessity – and at the same time the problematic nature – of studying metaphors as a part of conceptual history. As Frank Beck Lassen argues in his article, “Regular, Dependable, Mechanical: J.F. Struensee on the State of Denmark,” not only concepts but also metaphors must be considered by historians of political thought as politically significant figures of speech. Metaphors may constitute condensed political arguments, the applications of which play an important role in the continuous semantic struggle over the definition of political reality.

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Histories of Resistance

Dennis McEnnerney

Resistance is troubling. In an ideal community, all parts fit together, with citizens and government smoothly and agreeably regulating each other. To resist such an ideal community would appear perverse. Of course, most communities are not ideally constructed, in which case adding some “friction” may do “enough good to counterbalance the evil” inherent in communal machines, as Henry David Thoreau thought—unless the machine in question were so evil, as Thoreau believed was the case in slaveholding America, that the maximal friction of revolt and rebellion was demanded.