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The Expanding Horizons of Conceptual History

A New Forum

João Feres Júnior

Not long ago, conceptual history was an approach restricted to German-speaking academic circles and to very few scholars worldwide. This situation has markedly changed in the last two decades, primarily of the appearance of research projects for studying concepts in historical perspective in other European countries — such as Finland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France, and Spain — and because of Melvin Richter’s endeavor in promoting an encounter between German Begriffsgeschichte and English speaking approaches for the historical study of political languages, discourses, and rhetoric. The History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG) is among the most significant results of these developments.

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Discourse and Diffusion

Robert Darnton

The article critically explores the different paths chosen by closely related historical disciplines: intellectual history and the history of books. While the former has focused on discourse analysis, the latter has given more attention to the study of diffusion. Historians who study the diffusion of books commonly run into a difficulty: the best-sellers of the past may serve as an indicator of public taste, but they may also be trivial, and they do not necessarily lead to explanations of important events such as the Reformation and the French Revolution. On the other hand, discourse analysis is confined to a narrow band of textual evidence, and thus cannot provide much insight on the values and views of ordinary people caught up in the patterns of everyday life. The author concludes by discussing how the history of books, particularly the history of reading and the history of publishing, can have important implications for the study of discourse.

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Comparing Concepts and Identities

Pim den Boer

This article is a transnational comparative study of the history of the concept of civilization. It starts with a brief review of the meaning of concepts that historically preceded it, such as civilitas and civilité. Next, it focuses on the appearance of the concept in eighteenth-century England and France and the ways it was used by different political theorists and polemists, mostly in the sense of politeness. During the nineteenth century in the colonies outside Europe, in Africa, in Asia, and in America, the concept of civilization played a key role in the discourse of colonization. First it was used from above, by the colonists, but later on it was appropriated by the colonized. At the end of the nineteenth century, civilization acquired one more layer of meaning as it was incorporated into nationalistic discourse. Eventually, the concept also became so internalized that the majority of people in a country could identify their own nation as the supreme form of civilization.

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Part 2: After the Big Bang

The Fusing of New Approaches

Jan Ifversen

responsibility of publishing a newsletter that later was turned into the journal, Contributions to the History of Concepts not least due to the efforts of Professor João Feres Júnior from Rio de Janeiro. The French members took it upon themselves to organize

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

Risto-Matti Matero and Juan Alejandro Pautasso

, provides an accurate synthesis of the spirit that traverses the book compiled by Fabio Wasserman. The book investigates the stabilities, shifts, and development of revolution between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, in England, France, the Iberian

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Le moment Lamennais

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

Gonzalo Capellán

book published that same year by the French author Hugues-Félicité Robert de Lamennais, titled Paroles d'un Croyant ( Words of a Believer ). 1 In his decree, soon translated into Spanish, the Pope asked all Catholics to prevent the spread of a work

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The Birth of International Conceptual History

Jan Ifversen

Handbuch' s link to the French tradition of studying mentalities, although without buying into the decanonizing of sources entailed in replacing thought with mentality. He still insists on the need to climb the peaks (or canons) of political thought. He

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Clarifying Liquidity

Keynes and Marx, Merchants, and Poets

Rolf Hugoson

mean by “liquidity”? How was this term adopted by their colleagues speaking German, French, or English? What does it mean to a twentieth-century economist? How did money come to flow? Attention to different periods and aims is a challenge but should

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Conceptualizing an Outside World

The Case of “Foreign” in Dutch Newspapers 1815–1914

Ruben Ros

Buitenlander . In practice, the concept continued to be used in diplomatic language, albeit in a form that prioritized foreign states instead of sovereigns. In a report on French foreign policy, the Opregte Haarlemsche Courant notes that the French minister

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“Amazing Rapidity”

Time, Public Credit, and David Hume's Political Discourses

Edward Jones Corredera

Discourses , Hume himself appeared uncomfortable with his political predictions and his views on temporality at large. He mocked his own economic predictive method by comparing it to those of astrologers who sought to forecast the death of Henry IV of France