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.
The Expanding Horizons of Conceptual History
A New Forum
João Feres Júnior
For a Critical Conceptual History of Brazil
João Feres Júnior
The author argues that the development of a critical history of concepts should be based on a programmatic position different from that of original Begriffsgeschichte, or of its main interpretations. By drawing upon theoretical insights of Axel Honneth, he reassesses the basic assumption of Begriffsgeschichte regarding the relationship between the history of concepts and social history, and calls attention to the problems that spring from focusing analysis almost exclusively on key concepts. According to Feres, special attention should be paid to concepts that are socially and politically effective, but, at the same time, do not become the subject of public contestation. Based on this programmatic position, he ends the article proposing a sketch for organizing the study of conceptual history in Brazil along three semantic regions.
A Step Forward
João Feres Júnior
Contributions to the History of Concepts has now completed two years of existence. Its history has been closely tied to the annual meetings of the History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG). Talks about evolving from the HPSCG’s Newsletter to an academic periodical publication began in Bilbao, in 2003. The following year, at the 7th International Conference on the History of Concepts, which took place in Rio de Janeiro, we designed a plan to create a new journal that would serve as a conduit for researchers working with conceptual history, as well as for scholars interested in other related fields, such as intellectual history, the history of political thought, the history of ideas, etc. After a great deal of ground work, the journal was finally launched in 2005, both in digital and paper format, with an elegant graphic design and a host of excellent texts by distinguished scholars in the fields of conceptual history, intellectual history, and the history of political thought, such as Quentin Skinner, Melvin Richter, Kari Palonen, and Robert Darnton. The response from the international academic community was immediate and very encouraging. Since then positive feedback from a growing audience worldwide has been constantly on the rise.
Taking Text Seriously
Remarks on the Methodology of the History of Political Thought
João Feres Júnior
Quentin Skinner's methodological project contains a fundamental imprecision that is rarely mentioned by the secondary literature: the assumption, present in several of his methodological texts, that a theory designed for the analysis of oral communication (speech act theory) can be unreservedly used for interpreting text. In this article I will use some of Paul Ricoeur's phenomenological insights on the difference between textual and oral communication in order to advance a systematic critique of Skinner's project and to suggest new methodological possibilities for the history of political thought and related disciplines. This procedure will also allow me to organize some of the criticism raised against Skinner's Collingwoodean approach since its inception.
In Honor of Reinhart Koselleck
Sandro Chignola and João Feres Júnior
Contributions to the History of Concepts has much to celebrate. On one hand, issue number 3 inaugurates the journal’s second volume; its second year of existence. The reception of volume one could not have been better. We have received enthusiastic feedback from readers all over the world. Contributions has published authors from many different countries and from diverse academic milieus and traditions. The international reception of conceptual history has been on the rise for decades and Contributions is both a consequence of and an agent in this process. Our celebration, however, is not without sorrow. On February 3, 2006, Reinhart Koselleck passed away. One of the most influential historians and theoreticians of the last fifty years, Koselleck was simply the most important author in the field of conceptual history and, at the same time, an active promoter of its international reception.
Conceptual History and Translation
An Interview with Melvin Richter
Vicente Oieni, João Feres Júnior, and Melvin Richter
This interview was conducted during the VII International Conference of the History of Concepts: Transatlantic Dialogues, that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 6-9, 2004, and appeared for the first time in Anales of the Iberoamerikanska Institutet. 7/8: 13-26.