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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

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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Between Tyranny and Self-Interest

Why Neo-republicanism Disregards Natural Rights

David Guerrero and Julio Martínez-Cava Aguilar

The first contribution of this article is a politico-philosophical map that, drawing upon two common sets of arguments against modern natural rights, might help to explain the prevailing neo-republican position on natural rights. Under the label ‘abstraction argument’, we explore the view that natural rights are a metaphysical construct that usually ends in a violent application of speculative principles to society. Under ‘self-interest argument’, we discuss the notion that natural rights endorse an atomistic and selfish conception of the human being. Second, we show how Cold War authors replicated these two arguments, conveying a biased, largely anti-republican and anti-democratic view of natural rights to the twentieth century. Third, drawing on these two arguments, we critically assess the narrow view of natural rights inherited by neo-republican scholars.

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Concepts, Beliefs, and Their Constellations

A Proposal for Analytical Categories in the Study of Human Thought

Ilkka Kärrylä

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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Continuing Formalization of Coalition Formation with a New “Sound”

Negotiating the Coalition Contract after the 2021 Bundestag Election

Sven T. Siefken

Getting a new government together in Germany requires building a coalition. The process for doing so has evolved, becoming more institutionalized but remaining part of informal politics. Looking closely at the coalition building in 2021 shows that its organizational structure was vertically slimmer and horizontally more differentiated than in previous years. The role of parliamentary actors was more pronounced than before, and parliamentary organization was mirrored throughout it. Yet the strong inclusion of the Länder (party) perspectives prevailed, making coalition building a multi-level task. While the process in 2021 had more procedural transparency than before, its content remained largely out of public sight. At defined steps, party approval was gathered through formal votes. Whether the established account of better personal trust among the involved partners is more than a nice narrative remains to be seen in the analysis of the coalition’s governing practice.

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Benoît Godin

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

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.

Open access

Freedom, Autonomy, and (Inter)dependency

Feminist Dialogues and Republican Debates on Democracy

Ailynn Torres Santana

This article starts from the analytical disconnection between feminisms and republicanism and investigates the potential of an academic and political conversation between them. The text takes up some of the intersections between feminism and republicanism over the past few decades and draws attention to the greater interest that has been verified recently. Furthermore, the article proposes spaces where potential conversation between feminism and republicanism can take place: examining the relationship between material dispossession, dependence, and freedom; across the public, private, and domestic spheres; and the implications of extending autonomy to consider bodily autonomy. It ends with a brief reference to political participation as a feminist and republican virtue. Finally, the article stresses the need to produce a republican feminist revival.

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From Femicide to Feminicidio

Latin American Contributions to Feminist Conceptual History

Camila Ordorica

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

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.