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Whither Conceptual History?

From National to Entangled Histories

Margrit Pernau

The last decade has witnessed a remarkable internationalization in conceptual history. Research covers more countries and languages than ever before, and there have been a number of very good comparative studies. This article reflects on the possibility of taking conceptual history beyond comparison. Like nations, languages can no longer be considered as naturally given entities, but have to be viewed as profoundly shaped by historical exchanges. This brings conceptual history into a dialogue with translation studies in a common attempt to unravel how equivalents between languages have been created by the actors.

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Introduction to special section 1

Anthropology and character

Adam Reed and Jon Bialecki

This introductory essay seeks to reintroduce character to anthropological inquiry. Although it has long been out of favour due to its historical associations with accounts that attempt to describe national or ethnic character, we argue that a return of the under‐theorised concept may be in order. The essay invites socio‐cultural anthropologists to describe the diverse contexts in which character is recognised or enacted, out‐there‐in‐the‐world, and to become far more reflective about the ways in which characterization is deployed in our ethnographic writing. At the same time, it asks how the concept might be fruitfully operationalized at a meta‐language level to reorient current fields of anthropological study, without necessarily resorting to any collective or individual essentialisms. To illustrate the utility of re‐interrogating the concept, the question is addressed to two specific fields in which one might expect a concept such as character to already feature strongly: the anthropology of ethics and the anthropology of Christianity. What does an ethnographic attention to the ways in which character gets attributed reveal? How differently might these and other fields look if anthropologists embraced the concept of character or rejected it more knowingly? Finally, the essay asks what kinds of recombination of insights an anthropology and character approach might enable.

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My Words, My Literacy

Tracking of and Teaching through the On-Field Language Practices of Australian Indigenous Boys

David Caldwell, Nayia Cominos, and Katie Gloede

controlled and uncontrolled spoken and written class and online activities, so that students began by using their own language, and were gradually introduced to and practiced using the metalanguage of literacy. The second element was to embed activities in

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Agonistic Interpretation

A New Paradigm in Response to Current Developments

Nicole Deufel

were constructed and what the underlying passions are, not the least in relation to identity and the respective sense of heritage. The meaning of British Empire is also an example of what Barthes identified as metalanguage ( Barthes 1957: 115

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Concepts, Beliefs, and Their Constellations

A Proposal for Analytical Categories in the Study of Human Thought

Ilkka Kärrylä

. There have already been attempts toward a more unified meta-language for studying human thought, especially by philosophically oriented historians and social scientists such as Mark Bevir and Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen. According to Kuukkanen, there is little

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A School of Thought in Christian Anthropology

A discussion on ontology, religion, and the limits of secularity

Jon Bialecki and Eloise Meneses

, which operate something like a metalanguage—or more properly, a metagrammar—that orders, sequences, marks, and routes packets of information. This second-tier organizing principle enables two things. First, such marking prevents any contamination, as the

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Monumental Misunderstandings

The Material Entextualization of Mutual Incomprehension in Sino-Mozambican Relations

Morten Nielsen and Mikkel Bunkenborg

small, vibrates, like a ripple in water, throughout the entire language. Thus all understanding is always at the same time a not-understanding.” 3 As argued by Webb Keane (2005: 72) , ordinary language contains metalanguage (reflexive language about

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Time Bandits, Historians, and Concepts of Bad Times

Jan Ifversen

a metalanguage of change; others are shared with the historical actors. The narratives and concepts of change are often inserted into larger philosophies of history—the grand narratives denounced since the 1980s. From the eighteenth century, history

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Lockdown and the Global Disruption of Intimacies with Routine, Clock Time, and the Intensification of Time-Space Compression

Rebecca Irons

relationship that we have with it – a kind of intimacy that in ‘normal’ times may uncritically permeate reality. Within anthropology, Nancy Munn argues that a problem with ‘time’ is that it is notoriously ‘difficult to find a meta-language to conceptualize

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Brand of Brothers?

The Humboldt Forum and the Myths of Innocence

Jonathan Bach

is either temporally prior (childhood) or spatially separate (as in Eurocentric notions of “backward” others). If by myth we mean, following Barthes, a metalanguage that allows a particular story to exist outside of time—to seem so natural that its