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Niklas Olsen, Irene Herrmann, Håvard Brede Aven and Mohinder Singh

Crisis and Existentialism in the Work of Reinhart Koselleck

Gennaro Imbriano, Der Begriff der Politik: Die Moderne als Krisenzeit im Werk von Reinhart Koselleck [The concept of politics: Modernity as a time of crisis in the work of Reinhart Koselleck] (Frankfurt: Campus Verlag, 2018), 187 pp.

Jan Eike Dunkhase, Absurde Geschichte: Reinhart Kosellecks historischer Existentialismus [Absurd history: Reinhart Koselleck’s historical existentialism] (Marbach: Deutschen Literaturarchiv Marbach, 2015), 67 pp. --- Humanity in Practice: New Approaches to Conceptual History

Fabian Klose and Mirjam Thulin, eds., Humanity: A History of European Concepts in Practice from the Sixteenth Century to the Present (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016), 324 pp. --- The Merits of Mistranslation

Eric Schatzberg, Technology: Critical History of a Concept (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), 344 pp. --- Beyond Universalism and Nativism: The Conceptual Vocabulary of Indian Modernity

Gita Dharmpal-Frick, Monika Kirloskar-Steinbach, Rachel Dwyer, and Jahnavi Phalkey, eds., Key Concepts in Modern Indian Studies (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2015), 350 pp.

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Clarifying Liquidity

Keynes and Marx, Merchants, and Poets

Rolf Hugoson

This article is a history of liquidity presented as interaction between metaphors and theoretical concepts in social contexts. While taking note of Zygmunt Bauman’s metaphor “liquid modernity,” the study instead surveys the wider conceptual field. The text turns around mercantile liquidity (liquidity as clarification) and liquidity in modern economics (characteristic of all assets), as well as older metaphors, notably the famous phrase of the Communist Manifesto, “all that is solid melts into air” (Alles Ständische und Stehende verdampft), which is revealed to have resonance in texts by poets, notably Heinrich Heine. The main result is the historical consistency of the field, where liquidity is a promise of knowledge and clarity.

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Max Stille

This review article provides an overview of important, recent approaches to conceptual history from scholarship on South Asia. While conceptual history is not a consolidated field in South Asia, the colonial encounter has greatly stimulated interest in conceptual inquiries. Recent scholarship questions the uniformity even of well-researched concepts such as liberalism. It is methodologically innovative in thinking about the influence of economic structures for the development of concepts. Rethinking religious and secular languages, scholars have furthermore stressed the importance of smaller communicative units such as genre or hermeneutical practices to shape ideas e.g. of the political. As part of global and imperial formations, scholars are well aware of the link between power and colonial temporalities. Lastly, they have suggested new sources for conceptual history, such as literature, film, and sound.

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Distributing Responsibilities in an Agricultural Ecosystem

Insights from the Lake Naivasha Water Basin in Kenya

Gaële Rouillé-Kielo

This article explores the responses to acknowledged anthropogenic transformations of Lake Naivasha in Kenya, whose ecosystem is considered to have been disturbed by the intensification of agricultural uses of natural resources (notably land and water) over the last half century. It examines the ways in which a “payments for environmental services” (PES) project has been implemented, reflecting the rationale of ecological modernization. This article aims to challenge the environmental narrative that supports the project by revealing its oversimplifications. Empirical data demonstrates how the environmental issues addressed by the project are embedded in historically inherited land trajectories. This in turn forces us to reflect on the necessary question of responsibility, an issue at the heart of the debate since the emergence of the Anthropocene concept.

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Modernity, Ḥadāthā, and Modernité in the Works of Abdallah Laroui

Conceptual Translation and the Politics of Historicity

Nils Riecken

The puzzle this article examines is how one can study the concept of modernity within the history of its universalization as a process of translation. For this purpose, I look at how the contemporary Moroccan historian and intellectual Abdallah Laroui has critically engaged with the history, politics, and epistemology of translating modernity (Arabic ḥadāthā, French modernité) into his intellectual and political setting of Morocco, North Africa, and the Middle East during and after the colonial period. I read him as making a critical intervention into existing modes of timing and spacing the concept of modernity and, thus, what I describe as the politics of historicity. In conclusion, I make a methodological plea for framing the history of concepts across political borders in terms of translational practices.

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Fragile Transfers

Index Insurance and the Global Circuits of Climate Risks in Senegal

Sara Angeli Aguiton

In recent years, Senegal’s developed a program of index insurance to cover farmers from economic losses due to drought. I investigate this emerging market in light of Jane Guyer’s question: “What is a ‘risk’ as a transacted ‘thing’?” To grasp the social practices required to make “rainfall deficit” a transferable risk, I explore the climate and market infrastructure that brings it into existence and follows actors who function as brokers allowing the risk to circulate from Senegalese fields to the global reinsurance industry. I show that the strategies set up to convince farmers to integrate a green and rational capitalist management of climate risks are very fragile, and the index insurance program only endures because it is embedded in the broader political economy of rural development based on debt and international aid.

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Hesitant Recognition

Toward a Crop Ontology among Sugar Beet Farmers in Western Poland

Dong Ju Kim

In response to climate change, sustainability has become the keyword for exploring alternative ways of cultivation in different parts of the world. However, local farmers still understand these sustainable alternatives in terms of soil nutrients and their absorption by crops. I examine how sugar beet farmers in western Poland read the condition of crops and field conditions, and accordingly try to cope with agricultural droughts in spring and early summer. While they maintain a practical position that is extremely inductivist, they simultaneously allow for symbolic, indexical meanings. These meanings of farming practices are multilayered and evoke relationships, local histories, and traditions. The farmers accept the reality of climate change only hesitantly, and their aspiration of gaining recognition in Europe has only started to penetrate the multilayered indexical meanings of farming practices.

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Introduction

Agri-cultures in the Anthropocene

Martin Skrydstrup and Hyun-Gwi Park

Today when we think about climate change and Greenland, we do not think about agriculture, but of the melting ice. Perhaps the most evocative articulation of this connection was made in December 2015, when Paris was hosting the United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP21. At this event, artist Olafur Elisasson and geologist Minik Rosing exhibited their art installation Ice Watch at the Place du Pantheon: a circle of icebergs with a circumference of twenty meters, which resembled a watch ticking and/or a compass providing orientation for the world’s leaders in the palm of Paris. The ice had been transported by tugboat from the harbor of Nuuk—Greenland’s capital—to France. The captain of the tugboat was Kuupik Kleist, former prime minister of Greenland, who was quoted saying: “Ninety per cent of our country is covered by ice. It is a great part of our national identity. We follow the international discussion, of course, but to every Greenlander, just by looking out the window at home, it is obvious that something dramatic is happening” (Zarin 2015).

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Hyun-Gwi Park

This article presents an ethnographic study of watermelon cultivators in the Russian Far East and how they approach and respond to climatic risk. For watermelon cultivators, the spatial boundaries of climatic risk are perceived as the baseline condition for the watermelon market, in which cultivators compete with each other by dealing with uncertainties caused by weather changes. While the market is linked to the spatial boundaries of climatic risk, this connection is only meaningful when there are weather changes that differently affect individuals within the boundary; weather changes that affect individual performance in the competitive watermelon market is perceived according to a recursive and cyclic timescale, rather than a linear one as discussed by most theories of the Anthropocene.

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People, Clouds, and Roots

Between the Unseen, the Seen, and the Unforeseen

Yunita T. Winarto, Sue Walker and Rhino Ariefiansyah

Various studies reveal the paradox of farmers’ local knowledge. Farmers are equipped with traditional cosmology and detailed empirical knowledge of their agricultural habitats. However, these same knowledge frameworks seem to contribute to entrapping farmers in a mind-set that prevents them from understanding the diverse unintended consequences of changes in their environment. To avoid this, we utilize the learning arena of science field shops (SFSs) to help farmers better understand the relationships at work from the “clouds to the roots and in between”, and to address ongoing changes and vulnerabilities in the environment. This article seeks to explain the changes that occurred to farmers following the learning they acquired from SFSs and its impact on their anticipation and decision making.