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Civilization

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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The Concept of Civilization in Spain, 1754-2005

From Progress to Identify

Javier Fernández Sebastián

The aim of this article is to give an account of the main uses of the concept of Civilization in Spain, in political and intellectual debates, from its origins in the mid-eighteenth century to the present. In the Spanish case, the evolution of this notion is initially marked by the special circumstances of a country relatively backward in comparison with some of the principal "enlightened" European countries, but at the same time an Imperial monarchy, possessing very extensive territories inhabited by people considered as yet "uncivilized". Furthermore, the long struggles in the medieval Iberian peninsula between Christians and Muslims also had a strong influence on certain characteristics of the political uses of the concept of civilization in modern Spain. Recently, the impact of the supposed "Clash of Civilizations" has added a new twist to the range of meanings of the word, employed more and more frequently in a cultural-religious sense. So, between the Enlightenment and post-modernity, the notion of civilization would have moved away from the sphere of Progress to a very different conceptual space: that of Identity.

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Arctic Circumpolar Civilization

Philosophical Approaches to the Concept

Sviatoslav Shachin

In their 2016 book, Vinokurova U.A. and Y.V. Yakovets (2016) systematically develop the results of many years of work leading to the proposal of the concept of “Arctic circumpolar civilization.” The authors insist that simply including the Arctic

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A Clash of Civilizations?

Pegida and the Rise of Cultural Nationalism

David N. Coury

overlooked is the organization’s anti- eu and antiglobalization views that are rooted in what the American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington predicted would be a civilizational clash in the post Cold War era. Initially, as Lars Geiges, Stein Marg

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Civilization, Hierarchy, and Political-Economic Inequality

Stephan Feuchtwang

argue that we should understand Louis Dumont’s conception of hierarchy as encompassment and ideology to be a starting point for an anthropology of comparative civilizations and their histories. Combining Mauss with Dumont offers a conception of

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Civilization as the Undesired World

Radical Environmentalism and the Uses of Dystopia in Times of Climate Crisis

Stine Krøijer

Civilization is exercising violence against us and against other species. Against the Earth! It is threatening to exterminate us all. In that light, our acts of ecotage are a lesser crime to prevent a greater one. — Fox, Germany, 2016 In

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Civis, civitas, civilitas

Translations in Modern Italian and Conceptual Change

Sandro Chignola

By focusing on the Italian translations of civilization, the author explores ways in which conceptual change has reflected historical developments in Italy. Unlike the widespread literal translation of civilization from English or French to other languages, civilizzazione has been a marginal term in Italian. On the other hand, terms such as civiltà, more akin to the Latin civitas, are more frequently employed. e article maps out the complex semantics of civitas and how its trajectory in the philosophy of history was uniquely translated into Italian. Whereas in other European nations civilization and the notion of historical progress it conveyed became a central concept, in Italy, due to the elaboration of an identity heavily influenced by Christian heritage, the more static concept of civiltà proved to be more significant.

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The Concept of Civilisation from Enlightenment to Revolution

An Ambiguous Transfer

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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Civilizational analysis for beginners

Chris Hann

The concept of civilization has not prospered in socio-cultural anthropology. Its origins lie in Enlightenment France, where it was used in both singular and plural forms, the universalist singular eventually prevailing in the decades leading up to the Revolution. Our discipline came to prefer pluralizing counter-currents of this universalism such as that associated with Johann Gottfried Herder. The key term in German was Kultur, though it was not widely used in the plural until the twentieth century, while Zivilisation referred to technological progress. For Edward Burnett Tylor in England, culture and civilization were synonymous. But even before the demise of the European colonial empires, most socio-cultural anthropologists were uncomfortable with the normative connotations of the latter. They preferred to carry out ethnographic studies within paradigms that represented the world as composed of more or less bounded societies with their more or less incommensurable cultures. With the abandonment of evolutionist paradigms, analyses of the emergence of civilization from primitive cultures were rendered redundant and repugnant.

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Civilization versus Barbarism

The Franco-Prussian War in French History Textbooks, 1875–1895

Jörg Lehmann

In French history textbooks published after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 to 1871, the presentation of the war and its outcome frequently include the myth of France's revanche and depictions of the Prussian enemy as barbarians. Other textbooks presented a narrative of progress in which the French Third Republic is shown as the endpoint of a process of advancing civilization. While the idea of a French revanche can be regarded as a founding myth of the Third Republic, the narrative of progress can be seen as an echo of this myth, cleansed of the concept of the enemy as barbarian, which constitutes a national master narrative.