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Beyond Metaphor

Corporeal Sociability and the Language of Commerce in Eighteenth-Century Britain and France

Joseph D. Bryan

Abstract

Body-politic metaphors served historically as figurative vehicles to transmit assorted socio-political messages. Through an examination of the metaphors la mollesse (softness) and Adam Smith's impartial spectator, this article will show that the language of eighteenth-century French and British writers was not simply heuristic or metaphorical. Contemporaries reacted to the growth of commerce and luxury, and the concomitant creation of new public spaces and forms of social interaction, by arguing that the corporeal mediated the social. I want to introduce the concept of corporeal sociability: cognitive physiology and the network of the senses, contemporaries argued, contained the information necessary to assess novel forms of commerce and revealed that sociability was congenitally embodied.

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Dealing with an Ocean of Meaninglessness

Reinhart Koselleck's Lava Memories and Conceptual History

Margrit Pernau and Sébastien Tremblay

Abstract

During his prolific career, Reinhart Koselleck left his mark on a myriad of topics beyond the history of concepts: iconology, memory, and temporality. The first part of this piece is a never before published English translation of one of Koselleck's numerous public interventions. Second, taking as a starting point his reflection about the end of the war and the impossibility to collectivize certain memories, this article links his considerations about the unsayable with his work on images and political sensuality. Going beyond a simple analysis of Koselleck's writings, the article opens a dialogue between the history of concepts and affective memories, offering news ways to link experiences, emotions, and practices while underlining the limits of communication and collective memory.

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Reinhart Koselleck, Translated By Margrit Pernau, and Sébastien Tremblay

The bells tolling on 9 May 1945 were heralding peace. The question remained: what kind of peace and for whom? Thousands of us marched on a trail for many kilometers, from Mährish-Ostrau eastward, like a silent accordion, sometimes extended, sometimes compressed, chased, not knowing where we were going. The voices of the bells echoed over our column and raised hopes from whose nonfulfillment countless people would perish, not being able to bear the disappointments of the new forthcoming peace. However, it was all unknown to us, we did not even know where we were going. Yet we knew where we were coming from, from the cauldron that had continuously tightened over four weeks, and from which we had definitely failed to escape on 1 May. With a wounded soldier on my back, I laid down my gun. At that point, we didn't know yet that the Americans would hand all the prisoners that had reached the redemptive West from Bohemia and Moravia back to the Russians. So this fight had been futile and every death in vain. The dead were still lying around in countless numbers.

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Le moment Lamennais

Modern Slavery and the Re-description of People (and Democracy) in Spain and Chile

Gonzalo Capellán

Abstract

Upon his controversial and successful publication of Words of a Believer (1834), Lamennais became one of the most influential thinkers in Europe and America. Lamennais's other works, such as Modern Slavery, have received surprisingly less attention, considering that with it he made a re-description of the concept people and consequently of democracy. Lamennais's presentation of the antagonism between liberty and tyranny, between a few oppressors (privileged classes) and the majority of the oppressed (the people) turned him into a key reference for the democratic, republican, and socialist political cultures. We can then speak of a “Lamennais moment” as opposed to the “Guizot moment,” which offered conflicting world views. This article combines an analysis of the translations and circulation of Modern Slavery in Spain and Latin America with the study of the new meanings of the concept people.

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Reviews

The Environment as an Umbrella Concept; From Word to Historical Concept

Risto-Matti Matero and Juan Alejandro Pautasso

Paul Warde, Libby Robin, and Sverker Sörlin, The Environment: A History of the Idea (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 2018), 244 pp.

Fabio Wasserman, ed., El mundo en movimiento: El concepto de revolución en Iberoamérica y el Atlántico norte (siglos XVII–XX) [The world in motion: The concept of revolution in Iberian America and the North Atlantic (seventeenth–twentieth centuries)] (Buenos Aires: Miño y Dávila editores, 2019), 293 pp.

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Time and Space in Time and Space

Mapping the Conceptual History of Mental Maps and Historical Consciousness

Janne Holmén

Abstract

Mental maps and historical consciousness, which describe the spatial and temporal dimensions of worldviews, are not, as commonly stated, twentieth century concepts. Historical consciousness was coined simultaneously by several German scholars in the mid-1800s. Mental maps, used in English since the 1820s, had a prominent role in US geography education from the 1880s. Since then, the concepts have traveled between practical-technical, educational, and academic vocabularies, cross fertilizing fields and contributing to the formation of new research questions. However, when these initial periods of reflection gave way to empirical investigation, strict intra-disciplinary definitions of the concepts have strengthened disciplinary borders by excluding the interpretations of the same concepts in other fields.

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Voluntarism

Promises of Proximity as Articulated by Changing Moral Elites

Anders Sevelsted

Abstract

The article analyzes the varied meanings historically associated with concepts of voluntarism in relation to social relief as they were articulated by changing moral elites in Denmark from the late nineteenth century until the present. Concepts of voluntarism have historically constituted “normative counterconcepts” that link voluntary practices to desired futures in opposition to alternative modes of organizing. The “proximity” of voluntarism vis-à-vis the “distance” of the state has always been a core meaning, but the concept has drifted across the political spectrum from its first articulation by nineteenth-century conservative Christians to its rediscovery by leftist social researchers in the late twentieth century. Paradoxically, the welfare state helped “proximity” become a core meaning, in contrast to its original social-conservative meaning emphasizing proximity and distance.

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Federica Stagni and Daryl Glaser

Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine, by Noura Erakat. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2019. 331 pp.

Race, Class and the Post-Apartheid Democratic State, edited by John Reynolds, Ben Fine. and Robert van Niekerk. Scottsville, Pietermaritzburg: University of KwaZulu-Natal Press, 2019. 396 pp.

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Colonising ‘Free’ Will

A Critique of Political Decolonisation in Ghana

Bernard Forjwuor

Abstract

While colonialism, in general, is a contested concept, as are the conditions that constitute its negation, political decolonisation seems to be a relatively settled argument. Where such decolonisation occurred, political independence, and its attendant democratic system and the undergirding of the rule of law, signify the self-evidentiality of such political decolonisation. This article rethinks this self-evidentiality of political independence as necessarily a decolonial political accomplishment in Ghana. This critical enterprise opens the documents that founded the newly independent state to alternative reading to demonstrate how the colonial folded itself into the dictate of freedom.

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Deleuze's Postscript on the Societies of Control

Updated for Big Data and Predictive Analytics

James Brusseau

Abstract

In 1990, Gilles Deleuze published Postscript on the Societies of Control, an introduction to the potentially suffocating reality of the nascent control society. This thirty-year update details how Deleuze's conception has developed from a broad speculative vision into specific economic mechanisms clustering around personal information, big data, predictive analytics, and marketing. The central claim is that today's advancing control society coerces without prohibitions, and through incentives that are not grim but enjoyable, even euphoric because they compel individuals to obey their own personal information. The article concludes by delineating two strategies for living that are as unexplored as control society itself because they are revealed and then enabled by the particular method of oppression that is control.