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Jan Ifversen

Abstract

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.

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The Concept of Religion in Meiji Popular Discourse

An Analysis of the Newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun

Makoto Harris Takao

Abstract

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.

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Conceptual Explorations around “Politics”

Thematizing the Activity of Politics in the Plenary Debates of the German Bundestag

Kari Palonen

Abstract

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

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From an Economic Term to a Political Concept

The Conceptual Innovation of “Self-Management” in Soviet Estonia

Juhan Saharov

Abstract

The term “economic self-management” (in Estonian, isemajandamine) stood at the center of economic and political debates in Soviet Estonia in 19871988. This article traces its transformation from an economic term to a political concept, reconstructing the intellectual resources that the reformers were drawing on in this process. Navigating the constraints of Soviet discourse, reform-minded academics in Soviet Estonia radically expanded the original meaning of isemajandamine, which ultimately provided an argumentative platform for declaring the republics “sovereignty” within the Soviet Union. The article brings out the linguistic, political, and transnational dimensions of this conceptual innovation, which started in 1987 and was completed when the law on the “economic independence” of the Baltic republics was adopted by the Soviet Union in 1989.

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Review

On Reinhart Koselleck's Intellectual Relations to Carl Schmitt

Niklas Olsen

Jan Eike Dunkhase, ed., Reinhart Koselleck/Carl Schmitt: Der Briefwechsel 1953–1983 [Reinhart Koselleck/Carl Schmitt: The correspondence 1953–1983] (Berlin: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2019), 459 pp.

Sebastian Huhnholz, Von Carl Schmitt zu Hannah Arendt? Heidelberger Entstehungsspuren und bundesrepublikanische Liberalisierungsschichten von Reinhart Kosellecks “Kritik und Krise” [From Carl Schmitt to Hannah Arendt? On the Heidelbergian genesis and the West German liberalization layers of Reinhart Koselleck's “Kritik und Krise”] (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 2019), 172 pp.

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Roberto Breña

Abstract

This article provides an overview of some prominent aspects of intellectual history as practiced today in Latin America, especially regarding conceptual history. It delves into the way this methodology arrived to the region not long ago and discusses the way some of its practitioners combine it with the history of political languages, often ignoring the profound differences between both approaches. Therefore, the text stresses some of the most significant contrasts between them. In its last part, the article is critical of the purported “globality” of global intellectual history, an issue that is inextricably linked with the pervasive use of the English language in the field. Throughout, the text poses several of the challenges that lie ahead for intellectual history in Latin America.

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Arian Hopf

Abstract

Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (1817-1898) was a prominent South Asian reformer of Islam who focused on the reconciliation of science and Islam in his most influential texts. This article aims to analyze the implications of science becoming the dominant discourse in nineteenth-century South Asia for the conception of Islam and religion in general. Sayyid Ahmad is an intriguing example because he actively participated in religious as well as scientific discourses since as early as the 1830s. After a concise outline of his early writings, his stances toward science and reason shall be compared with his later writings, primarily those written after 1870, to uncover the impact of the increasing influence of science in South Asia during the latter half of the nineteenth century. In his later writings, Sayyid Ahmad accomplishes a complex effort of translation, claiming mutual compatibility of science and Islam. The question of how this influences his conception of Islam and religion will be addressed, exploring whether this process should be described as a mere adoption of foreign discourse? Or does it trigger transformative effects?

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American Extraterritorial Legislation

The Data Gathering behind the Sanctions

Ali Laïdi

Abstract

Since the early 2000s, the United States’ different administrations of justice have been prosecuting foreign companies suspected of violating US laws on bribery of foreign public officials and of failing to respect embargoes and economic sanctions. Even if these violations take place outside US borders, the American prosecution authorities (including the Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Office of Foreign Assets Control) consider themselves legitimate to intervene. European multinationals have been particularly sanctioned. For instance, in 2014, fines reached up to 9 billion dollars for the French bank BNP, which was accused of using dollars in its transactions with certain countries sanctioned by the US (mainly Iran, Cuba and Sudan). Punishing companies and hitting them in the wallet are not the only objectives of the American administration. The United States takes advantage of legal procedures against foreign companies to collect millions of bytes of data, sometimes including sensitive information on them as well as on their partners and markets. Facing this legal offensive, Europe is still struggling to provide responses to protect its companies.

Open access

Communication, Context, and Narrative

Habermas and Contemporary Realist Thought

Navid Hassanzadeh

Abstract

Although often cast by realists as an exemplar of moralist or rationalist thinking, Jürgen Habermas and certain commentators on his work reject this characterisation, highlighting elements of his thought that conflict with it. This article will examine dimensions of Habermas's work that relate to many realist concerns in political theory. I argue that while he escapes the commonplace caricature of an abstract thinker who is inattentive to real world affairs, Habermas's claims in relation to communication, historical and empirical context, and the development of rights in history, reveal a narrow consideration of what defines context and a progressivist narrative of history that fails to address seemingly outdated beliefs and political forces. An analysis of these issues can serve to inform understandings of these topics in realist thought and in political theory more broadly.

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Postcolonial Finance

The Political History of ‘Risk-Versus-Reward’ Investment in Emerging Markets

Cecilia Schultz

Abstract

This article politicises the discourse of emerging markets in global finance. The black-boxed appearance of credit markets easily obscures the significant amount of subjective evaluation and cultural work that underpins capital flows. This article reveals the colonial, masculine, and racial imagination that informs the articulation of emerging markets as geographies of risk and profit. This brings into view the postcolonial nature of contemporary finance and how colonialism's regimes of power and knowledge remain crucial for the reproduction of the global political economy. To illustrate this point, the article highlights the sociality of credit practices. Contrary to their mathematical appearance, credit is a relationship with the future, mediated by social imaginations of trust. Focusing on emerging markets as ‘risk-versus-reward’ investments, this article examines the long-term colonial histories embedded in modern investment discourses. The article aims to show the continuing relevance this history plays for emerging market economies in modern financial markets and their political economies.