This article provides an account of the concepts of modernidad and modernismo in the Spanish language, chiefly in Spain, from the end of the eighteenth century to the beginning of the twentieth century. This account also reflects the peculiarities of how conceptual history is being conducted in Spain, which resulted in the recently published Diccionario de Conceptos Políticos y Sociales del Siglo xix Español. The authors conclude that an examination of these two terms reveals that the emphasis upon Spanish singularity has been exaggerated and that, despite the presumed historical backwardness of the country, Spain played an outstanding role in the creation of the language of modernity and postmodernity.
An Example of Conceptual History
Javier Fernández Sebastián and Gonzalo Capellan de Miguel
Conceptual Translation and the Politics of Historicity
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.
Changing Modern Institutional Forms—Disciplines and Nation-States
Filipe Carreira da Silva and Mónica Brito Vieira
The article begins with the assumption that modernity is undergoing a profound change. The focus is on the structural transformation of two typical modern institutional regimes: the academic discipline and the territorial nation-state. Their demise as the predominant institutional forms in the realms of science and politics signals the end of the modern project—or at least the need for its profound redefinition. It is suggested that such a redefinition entails a radical conceptual shift in the social sciences and that the meta-theoretical expression of this shift can be designated as 'dialogical pluralism'. At a theoretical level, both modernization theories and the recent program of 'multiple modernities' are rejected. A plural modernity, with several distinct varieties, seems a more promising perspective.
Mohammed A. Bamyeh
The globalization of modernity obviously exceeds in its profundity the signifiers of open pathways and commodity circulation—clothing, music, food, and so on—tend to capture much of our immediate attention. In the first place, among tales of cultural dissemination modernity has the unique feature that it made its epoch without a heroic duel with any opposing force. The effort expended today to magnify the scale of supposedly ‘anti-modern’ fanaticism, or to force the world into the logic of a clash of ‘civilizations’ notwithstanding, the globalization of modernity owes much to the fact that, in its broadest outlines, it has never been truly rejected by any significant force in any society. Hardly any commentator on modernity, after all, defines the term in ways, which, upon closer inspection, reveal anything in modernity that should be anathema to social processes and longings everywhere. If we define modernity in terms of material outcomes—prosperity, longevity, lack of scarcity, leisure time, better communication systems, better housing, education, a wider range of consumer commodities—it is hard to see how any of this could be opposed by anybody, although these outcomes may be rejected by ascetic monks in any society, modern or not. If we define modernity in terms of social structure, such as predominantly urban life and within it a strong bourgeois class, it is easy to see that this outcome has been the conscious goal of policies in most of the world even before the termination of the alternative path of East bloc socialism.
Emerging Kinship in a Changing Middle East
The introduction to this issue has two strands. First, it contextualises the articles, which address kinship from varied perspectives, and situates them in their broader cultural context. Second, it adopts a comparative perspective by differentiating between the present articles with those published a decade earlier on the same themes in this journal, to examine whether, how and to what extent kinship has changed in the face of modernity, globalisation, wars, migrations and political change. It concludes that, compared with a decade ago, kinship has not only not weakened, but it has revived further and penetrated other institutions beyond family, or called upon to ensure and protect the continuity of cultural norms and values, from the threats paused by modernity and by the global, cultural and political invasions.
During the nineteenth century, not only did the extraordinary development of the printed press transform the cultural environment, but it also brought about major formal changes in literature. This article explores these trasnformations through a focus on the contemporary use of the concept of “modernity.” The word dates back to 1688 at least, but it was mostly employed during the nineteenth century to describe post-revolutionary France and especially to criticize its consumerism and materialistic “bourgeoisie.” Nineteenth-century media culture embodied the triumph of “modernity,” especially in the form of the petite presse (“small press”). Born in a world where censorship still compromised the freedom of speech, the petite presse was an illustrated, satirical, ironical, and wisecracking medium. It aspired to a generalized non-seriousness which would, for a long time, be viewed as the “Parisian spirit.”
The Problem of Political Modernity in the Islamic World
Michael J. Thompson
This paper considers the roots of the dissonance between political modernity and Islamic societies. It argues that primacy has to be given to the analysis of different paradigms of 'ethical life' which are ways in which ethical-political categories are organized within society. A distinction is made between 'nomocentric' and 'rights-based' paradigms of ethical life, the former associated with a system of moral duties and the latter with a system of political and ethical rights accorded to the individual. I argue that the emphasis on a nomocentric paradigm of ethical life has the effect of suppressing the development of a rights-based ethical and political discourse in large enough segments of the society to limit a progressive change toward political modernity. I further analyze the ways in which forces of social and economic modernisation play a role in antagonizing the relation between modernity and the more traditional forms of ethical life which predominate in Islamic society and political/ethical thought.
the case of Turkey
Banu Nilgün Uygun
This essay explores the sexual-economic transactions between Turkish men and women from the former Soviet Union (FSU), focusing on Trabzon, a Turkish port town on the southeast coast of the Black Sea. I first provide background on 'the new migration' from the FSU to Turkey, paying particular attention to some of the political stakes in discussions of transnational sex work. I then explore these issues through the stories of two migrant women from the FSU who live in Trabzon. In these stories I highlight the ambiguity and complexity of sexual-economic transactions between local men and migrant women to show the inadequacy of the category 'sex work'. Finally, I turn to the demand side of the equation and consider the ideologies shaping the perceptions of local men. I situate them within the context of discourses of modernity in Turkey as they are reconfigured by Turkey's integration into global markets.
Jeffrey M. Peck
The focus of this volume is broad, both historically and topically.
Berlin and Vienna, modernity and postmodernity, the twentieth century
and two incisive Wenden of a tumultuous millennium offer an
opportunity to examine central issues in the relationship among
European culture, history, and politics. Cities provide a rich location
to examine expressions of creativity, growth, and change over the
course of one hundred years. As a transit point of entry and exit, the
city becomes a site for exchange and cross-fertilization of peoples,
ideas, and commodities. Cities are nodes in a network whose spokes
extend beyond their metropolitan borders and bring intellectual and
physical nourishment to surrounding areas. This European century
will be known for its great cities and the production of cultural
objects that spread around the globe. Less dramatically, nevertheless
significant for the transfer of knowledge, academic figures will also
be remembered for the dissemination of these intellectual traditions
to generations of students who were fortunate to cross their paths.
Hinrich C. Seeba, professor of German at the University of California,
Berkeley, from 1967 to the present, is one such person.
'On the Meanings of Democracy' points to the fragility and contested meanings of 'democracy'. Once 'the assurance is given that "democracy" is the only kind of political regime that is acceptable to an adult, emancipated population which is an end in itself, the very idea of democracy fades and becomes blurred and confusing'. Such 'wide-spread lack of clarity' gave rise to Europe's 'totalitarian' regimes. It is claimed that 'it is impossible to be simply a "democrat" without questioning what this really means', and that to ignore the conceptual difficulties is as 'dangerous as rejecting democracy completely'. A 'minimal argument or blueprint for an enquiry into the possible meanings' of the term is proposed. The implications of taking 'democracy', the word, 'to describe the exercising of political power by the people' are explored. The 'people' as a social group distinct from some 'other reputedly superior part, which dominates it', is distinguished from the 'people' taken to mean 'the whole'. In the first sense, 'democracy' is not a regime but an uprising against a regime or government. In the second sense, the 'political sovereignty of the people' signifies their 'self-constitution as a people'. Accounts of democracy that focus not so much on its 'political specificity' as on 'civil society' or the 'social bond' are then explored. The author concludes with a reflection on the relationship between democracy, 'modernity' and the scope, nature and place of politics.