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Towards a Comparative History of Concepts

Civilisation and beschaving

Pim den Boer

Building upon an introductory discussion on linguistic exchange - the problem of missing words - and the emergence of transnational concepts, this article consists of a comparative study of the history of the concept of civilisation in some major European languages and the concept of beschaving in Dutch, the closest translation to civilisation in that language. According to the author, the particular and independent conceptual evolution of beschaving should be in part explained by the early development of a modern socio-economic structure in Holland.

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L’Istanbul du début du XXe siècle au prisme eurocentrique

L’urbanisme et la Civilisation selon Ebüzziya Tevfik (1849–1913)

Özgür Türesay

This article examines an eminent Ottoman journalist's writings on urbanism. Ebüzziya Tevfik, a polyvalent intellectual of the late Ottoman Empire, was a pioneer in the field of printing and was also known as a prolific writer. In the aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution of 1908, he penned some 26 articles on urbanism. This corpus reflects Ebüzziya Tevfik's perception of urbanism as a question of civilisation.

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Bridging the Heterogeneity of Civilisations

Reviving the Grammar of Islamic Humanism

Bassam Tibi

This article states an intercivilisational conflict between Europe and Islam and argues that it can be resolved through cross-cultural bridging and sharing grammars of humanism in the pursuit of an international morality. The plea for a revival of the suppressed tradition of Islamic humanism, and of the rationalist thought of al-Farabi, Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd among others, acknowledges that today there is no one uniform Islam. Today, the global competition between humanism and absolutism in Islam is also pertinent to the future of European identity, given Europe's proximity to the Islamic neighbourhood and the global migration emanating therefrom. While greater civilisational identity politics can be a source of conflict, such conflict can be overcome through a dialogue based on a common humanist heritage, and by bridging the international system of states to an international society, people of different civilisations can be brought closer to one another.

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Raymonde Monnier

This article focuses on the evolution of the concept of civilisation in the French language through the analysis of socio-political discourse from Enlightenment to the Revolution and of the Anglo-French transfers and translations of different English historians and philosophers who first started using the concept in the second half of the eighteenth century. In the interaction between the French and English Lumières, civilization came forward as a meta-concept pitted against that of the contract theory advanced by authors such as Adam Ferguson, with a distinct perspective of an overarching natural history of mankind. Drawing upon the results produced by Frantext and a history of the use of concept in different theoretical frameworks, the author demonstrates the construction of civilisation in its relationship to various antonyms (barbare, sauvage, barbarie), rhetorical uses and conceptions of history.

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Marie-Ève Thérenty

This article describes the results developed in the recently published La Civilisation du journal, histoire culturelle et littéraire de la presse (ed. Dominique Kalifa, Philippe Régnier, Marie-Ève Thérenty, and Alain Vaillant), a collaboration between historians and literary scholars working together for eight years to write a synthesis about the history of the French press during the nineteenth century. It offers a comprehensive encyclopedia of journalism, the genres and forms of the periodical press, the principal figures of nineteenth-century French journalism, and the modern culture of the press. The article describes the different projects between history and literature that could be developed after this project. This kind of methodology should be extended to the relations between press and literature during the twentieth century, to women's journalism and to the globalization of the media during the nineteenth century. These projects could be developed with the help of the website Médias19.

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"A Denial of Our Boasted Civilisation

Cyclists' Views on Conflicts over road Use in Britain, 1926-1935

Peter Cox

In the interwar period, cyclists, the most numerous road users, came into increasing conflict with motorists. The debate around road safety and casualties reveals significant differences between the social and political capital available to different classes of road users, despite their legal equality. Drawing on the coverage of the conflict by the Cyclists' Touring Club (CTC) through their monthly Gazette and on the parliamentary record, this article examines how cyclists understood the problem of increasing accident rates and the solutions proffered in press and parliament to address them. The paper considers cyclists in terms of class, representation, power, and status. It further examines how these factors shaped perceptions of the issues at stake in the safety debate in relation to the governance of road space and the appropriate behaviors and responsibilities of road users.

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L'âge du bronze en Asie centrale

La civilisation de l'Oxus

Henri-Paul Francfort

The Bronze Age civilisation of Central Asia developed during the second half of the third millennium BC. Besides elements resembling Middle Eastern contemporary civilisations (e.g. economy, art), it displays also some peculiarities resembling earlier periods (e.g. importance of hunting), as well as specific steppe relations (e.g. pottery, horses) and purely local traits (e.g. animal burials, camel domestication, lapis lazuli, tin trade). This original 'Oxus civilisation' raises a number of issues related to environmental (arid period), ethno-linguistic (Indo-Iranian), historical (chronology, origin, decline) and methodological problems, such as its place in a neo-evolutionist scheme as a manifestation of a proto-urban phenomenon. The longue durée, revisited as a system in the Middle Asian interaction sphere, seems a promising way of understanding this civilisation.

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Jean-Christophe Marcel and Mike Gane

Raymond Boudon (ed.), Durkheim fut-il durkheimien? Jean-Christophe Marcel

Marcel Mauss, Techniques, technologie et civilisation, ed. N. Schlanger

Jean-François Bert (ed.), 'Les Techniques du corps' de Marcel Mauss: Dossier critique Mike Gane

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Du pays du non-dit à une libération de la parole

L'histoire comme enjeu culturel en Nouvelle-Calédonie

Frédéric Angleviel

Avant-hier, la société coloniale calédonienne refusait l'existence d'une civilisation kanake et occultait l'histoire conflictuelle de cette petite "France austral" des antipodes. Hier, le fait que l'identité kanake puisse être le pilier central de la case calédonienne était occulté par une quête patrimoniale et identitaire multiculturelle. Aujourd'hui, le centre culturel Jean-Marie Tjibaou (accords de Matignon) et la décision de mettre la civilisation kanake au centre du dispositif (accord de Nouméa), vont-il permettre l'émergence d'une "communauté de destin." L'étude de l'historiographie calédonienne illustre la difficulté de mettre en phase la théorie et les contraintes de la réalité.

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This issue of Theoria addresses its organising theme, science and civilisation, in a broad and multifaceted way. The contributions range in scope from explorations of the relationship between the scientific and humanist worldviews, through identity formation in the context of ‘advanced’ technological societies, to questions of epistemology, culture, power and the institutional determinants of economic growth and prosperity.