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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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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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The Social Life of Fighting Words

The Case of Political Correctness

Ronald S. Stade

Political correctness has become a fighting word used to dismiss and discredit political opponents. The article traces the conceptual history of this fighting word. In anthropological terms, it describes the social life of the concept of political correctness and its negation, political incorrectness. It does so by adopting a concept-in-motion methodology, which involves tracking the concept through various cultural and political regimes. It represents an attempt to synthesize well-established historiographic and anthropological approaches. A Swedish case is introduced that reveals the kind of large-scale historical movements and deep-seated political conflicts that provide the contemporary context for political correctness and its negation. Thereupon follows an account of the conceptual history of political correctness from the eighteenth century up to the present. Instead of a conventional conclusion, the article ends with a political analysis of the current rise of fascism around the world and how the denunciation of political correctness is both indicative of and instrumental in this process.

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Didier Gazagnadou

In this article, the author investigates, from an anthropological point of view, why many Iranian women (and even some men) resort to rhinoplasty – that is, surgery to alter the appearance of the nose – for cosmetic purposes. When did this phenomenon begin in Iran? Which social classes and ages are concerned? What is the relationship between this practice and Iranian society in general? Is it the result of foreign cultural influences? What comparisons can be made with other cultures? Born of a micro-sociological case, these interrogations address the anthropology of Iranian society, which, like many others, has been engaged for several decades in an ‘exchange process’ that today is commonly known as globalisation.

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Hilary Pomeroy

On behalf of all those of us working to promote the diffusion of Ladino studies, I would like to express our gratitude to Jonathan Magonet and the board of European Judaism for this opportunity to bring to a wider public the language and literature of those other Jews, the Sephardim.

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Sephardi Coplas

Characteristics and Bibliography

Elena Romero

This article discusses characteristic aspects of the literary genre of Sephardic coplas in many different aspects: (1) Origins and development (the exact beginning cannot be determined with complete accuracy); (2) Importance and uniqueness of the coplas in the Sephardic poetic repertoire; (3) Corpus; (4) Characteristics (metric systems, authoring); (5) Transmission; (6) Geographical Diffusion; (7) Function; (8) Topics; and (9) Paraliturgical function. It concludes with a very extensive bibliography of the most important studies on the subject.

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Paloma Díaz-Mas

This article is an overview of the characteristics, history and the diffusion of the different types of Judeo-Spanish songs of mourning and dirges: Sephardic quinot in Judeo-Spanish for Tisha beab festivity, dirges for endechar (that is, to lament the death of a person), ballads used as songs of mourning and satirical dirges that were published in Sephardic newspapers at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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Quentin Skinner

This article is a response to Robert Darnton's comments on the relations and tensions between intellectual history and the history of books. The author comments on three arguments presented by Darnton. One is that intellectual historians often pay little attention to a question that seems to be of central importance to historians of the book: diffusion. Skinner argues that, to intellectual historians, the wide diffusion of a particular work is not a sure sign of its importance. Conversely, many of the greatest books of the past were not best-sellers. Another point made by Darnton is that intellectual historians often study books that are read and understood only by a small handful of people, a practice that constitutes a form of elitism. Skinner denies the charge of elitism by arguing that intellectual historians also study lesser-known works, and that this criticism can only be made from a philistine viewpoint. Finally, Skinner comments on the issue of the purpose of intellectual activity, defending the position that it plays the role of critically illuminating the moral and political concepts that are nowadays used to construct and appraise our common world.

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Quentin Skinner

This article is a response to Robert Darnton's comments on the relations and tensions between intellectual history and the history of books. The author comments on three arguments presented by Darnton. One is that intellectual historians often pay little attention to a question that seems to be of central importance to historians of the book: diffusion. Skinner argues that, to intellectual historians, the wide diffusion of a particular work is not a sure sign of its importance. Conversely, many of the greatest books of the past were not best-sellers. Another point made by Darnton is that intellectual historians often study books that are read and understood only by a small handful of people, a practice that constitutes a form of elitism. Skinner denies the charge of elitism by arguing that intellectual historians also study lesser-known works, and that this criticism can only be made from a philistine viewpoint. Finally, Skinner comments on the issue of the purpose of intellectual activity, defending the position that it plays the role of critically illuminating the moral and political concepts that are nowadays used to construct and appraise our common world.

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Emergence of New Welfare States in East Asia?

Domestic Social Changes and the Impact of "Welfare Internationalism" in South Korea and Taiwan (1945–2012)

Won-Sub Kim and Shih-Jiunn Shi

The development of social policy in East Asia has been gaining momentum in recent decades, challenging scholars to offer an explanation. This article addresses two questions: Are we witnessing the rise of welfare states in East Asia? And if so, what are the driving forces behind this development? We draw on theoretical perspectives of Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, who emphasizes the relationship between the state and civil society as the context of welfare statism, and who elaborated the role of international organizations and law in social policy ("welfare internationalism"). Choosing South Korea and Taiwan as examples, we explore the role of international policy diffusion, highlighting the interaction of international and domestic factors. We find that South Korea and Taiwan have indeed turned into welfare states, and that external "social" ideas, which have received little attention in previous research, have contributed to this development in different historical phases. Our analysis extends Kaufmann's perspective beyond Western welfare states.