Conceptual History and South Asian History

State of the Art

in Contributions to the History of Concepts
Author: Max Stille 1
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  • 1 Max Planck Institute for Human Development
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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.

Contributor Notes

Max Stille is Research Fellow in the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. Email: