This article compares the ideas of Amílcar Cabral and Amartya Sen on capability, freedom, resistance and political change, thereby revealing the importance of radical realism in political thought and development studies. Sen’s path-breaking work has been transformative for multiple disciplines, not least development. Yet, reading Sen alongside the ideas of one of Africa’s most successful anti-colonial political leaders is revelatory: it provides the basis for the argument that radical realism is most valuable if it is action-guiding, comparative and about context-specific change. This involves a distinction between realistic political theory and realism in political thought where only the latter demands utopian thinking. What follows from this regarding democracy, impartiality and justice? In answering this with reference to some social movements, the article then defends the political potential of conflict, partisan positions, resistance and political change directed towards overcoming domination.
Freedom, Resistance and Radical Realism
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.
SimonMary Aihiokhai, Lorina Buhr, David Moore, and William Jethro Mpofu
Teresia Mbari Hinga, African, Christian, Feminist: The Enduring Search for What Matters. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017, 244pp.
Michael Marder, Political Categories: Thinking Beyond Concepts. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019, 255pp.
António Tomás, Amílcar Cabral: The Life of a Reluctant Nationalist. London: Hurst, 2021, 272 pp.
Sabelo Ndlovu-Gatsheni, Epistemic Freedom in Africa: Deprovincialization and Decolonization. London: Routledge, 2018, 282pp.
Alexander Dilger, Christopher Thomas Goodwin, George Gibson, Michelle Lynn Kahn, Randall Newnham, Christopher Thomas Goodwin, and Stephen F. Szabo
Mark K. Cassell, Banking on the State: The Political Economy of Public Savings Banks (Newcastle upon Tyne: Agenda Publishing, 2021).
Bryce Sait, The Indoctrination of the Wehrmacht: Nazi Ideology and the War Crimes of the German Military (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).
Frank Bösch, ed., A History Shared and Divided: East and West Germany since the 1970s (New York: Berghahn Books, 2018).
Christopher A. Molnar, Memory, Politics, and Yugoslav Migrations to Postwar Germany (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018).
Eva Noack-Mosse, Last Days of Theresienstadt, trans. Skye Doney and Birutė Ciplijauskaitė (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2018).
Michael H. Kater, Culture in Nazi Germany (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2019).
Rolf Steininger, Germany and the Middle East: From Kaiser Wilhelm II to Angela Merkel (New York: Berghahn Books, 2019).
Viewing Brexit as part of a longer history of Anglo-Saxon racial and cultural exceptionalism, this article reflects on what Samuel Butler's satirical novel Erewhon, or Over the Range (1872) can tell us about the utopian impulses informing Brexit's neoimperialist ideology and hence about British identity politics today. Set in an inward-looking, socially homogeneous, and postindustrial society somewhere in the colonial southern hemisphere, Erewhon provides an anachronistic simulacrum of both an isolationist “Little England” and an imperial “Global Britain,” critiquing the idea of the self-sufficient, ethnonationalist “island nation” by demonstrating the extent to which it relies on the racial logic of White utopianism, as well as on a disavowal of the non-British labor that supports and sustains it.
Cancelling the Political Future
Taking off from a 1940 speech by Winston Churchill, I explore the shifting sensibilities underwriting the twin impact of Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting that a component of the current period turns on a disabling incapacity to think about a determinate political future.
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.
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
This article examines the enduring influence of Charles Dilke's Greater Britain (1868), which persists today in the ambitions of Brexit's proponents. Dilke characterized Britain as the center of a world system bound together by a common identity. Yet his explanation of that identity was riddled with inconsistencies. While he cast it mainly in racial terms, he also proposed cultural and linguistic criteria. These inconsistencies would complicate the efforts to define and delineate the reach of Greater Britain by those who followed in Dilke's footsteps. This includes the leading Brexiteers who have advanced Greater Britain's modern iteration, the Anglosphere, as an alternative to EU membership.
A Relationship of Tension
The categories of ethnicity, homogeneity and the nation partially contradict each other, but they also overlap. In order to examine this tension, this article will consider these terms in the context of the question that mediates their relationship, namely, the stability and instability of political orders. My aim is to articulate a conceptual framework that makes it possible to discuss this relationship of tension and sketch it from a theoretical perspective.