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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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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.

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The Headscarf

A Political Symbol in Comparative and Historical Perspective

Elisa Wiygul

The headscarf has become a cultural flashpoint, a freighted symbol of many of the central social, cultural, political, and religious tensions of this first decade of the twenty-first century. When I first began to research the French controversy surrounding the Muslim headscarf in 2001, it was little known in the United States. Since then, the issue has attained global prominence. In late 2003, the Stasi Commission, which Prime Minister Jacques Chirac had appointed several months earlier, recommended a ban on wearing the Muslim headscarf in public primary and secondary schools.1 The legislature promptly passed such a ban, which became law on 15 March 2004.2 Since then, Germany, Turkey, and Britain, among other countries, have wrestled with their own headscarf controversies. The debate reached international proportions when the European Court of Human Rights upheld Turkey’s ban on the headscarf in universities, in the 2005 case of Sahin v. Turkey.

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Contents Volume 4 (2008)

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Beyond Left and Right

New Perspectives on the Politics of the Third Republic

Linda E. Mitchell

The articles in this issue all reflect on the various ways in which political trends during the period of the Third Republic have been categorized by both historians of the period and the political actors themselves. Ranging in topic from political trends in the French military in the years after the Dreyfus Affair to the participation of women in the politics of the extreme Right, these pieces focus especially on the need to transcend categories of Left and Right in order to discuss more accurately the ways in which the political party system developed, in particular during the years between the world wars.

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Emotional Latitudes

The Ambiguities of Colonial and Post-Colonial Sentiment

Matt Matsuda and Alice Bullard

A collection of essays dedicated to the history of sentiment and emotions in the constitution of imperial and colonial projects. Subjects range from eighteenth-century marriage and military careers, to ethnically mixed couples during the Great War, to contemporary "arranged marriage" television programs in Madagascar. The collection also traces constructions of nineteenth and twentieth-century female slavery in Morocco, and meditations on family rooted and professional contexts in Laos and New Caledonia, complicating links between personal experience and historiographic knowledge. A closing essay draws together many of the themes with a detailed reading of key texts in colonial and postcolonial psychiatry.

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Karin Tilmans

The article “Applying Begriffsgeschichte to Dutch History: Some Remarks on the Practice and Future of a Project” (Contributions to the History of Concepts, vol. 2, no. 1, March 2006, pp. 43-58) is based on a collective paper Wyger Velema and I wrote for the first HSPCG conference held at the Finnish Institute in London, June 1998. It contains therefore substantive parts written by him, and as this is not at all clear from the published article, I would very much herewith like to rectify this and apologize for any inconvenience caused.

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Pim den Boer

A series of panels focusing on the concept of civilization were organized in each one of the annual meetings held by the History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG) in New York (2005), Uppsala (2006) and Istanbul (2007). The guiding idea of such an effort was to stimulate research on what became one of the most successful eighteenth-century neologisms in modern socio-political vocabulary. There has been extensive historical and conceptual research on civilization in German, French and English, but little has been produced on its introduction, translation and usage in other European and non-European languages.

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João Feres Júnior

Contributions to the History of Concepts has now completed two years of existence. Its history has been closely tied to the annual meetings of the History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG). Talks about evolving from the HPSCG’s Newsletter to an academic periodical publication began in Bilbao, in 2003. The following year, at the 7th International Conference on the History of Concepts, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, we designed a plan to create a new journal that would serve as a conduit for researchers working with conceptual history, as well as for scholars interested in other related fields, such as intellectual history, the history of political thought, the history of ideas, etc. After a great deal of ground work, the journal was finally launched in 2005, both in digital and paper format, with an elegant graphic design and a host of excellent texts by distinguished scholars in the fields of conceptual history, intellectual history, and the history of political thought, such as Quentin Skinner, Melvin Richter, Kari Palonen, and Robert Darnton. The response from the international academic community was immediate and very encouraging. Since then positive feedback from a growing audience worldwide has been constantly on the rise.

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The 9th Annual International Conceptual History Conference - Crossroads: Writing Conceptual History beyond the Nation-State. August 24-26, 2006, in Uppsala, Sweden. Registration will open in the afternoon of Wednesday, August 23.