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History and geography the foundations of culture

It was already practised in Germany under that name Kulturgeschichte as far back as the late eighteenth century, while Jacob Burckhardt's masterpiece on the Italian Renaissance, Kultur der Renaissance in Italien, was first published in 1860 Burckhardt, 1860. In other words, the cultural turn is a revival rather than a creation ex nihilo. Scholars in the USA, such as Schorske 1979Darnton 1984 and Hunt 1984 have been in the vanguard, but this time French and British scholars have played an important part.

In France, where the phrase histoire culturelle is replacing civilisation though the history of the book remains known as l'histoire et civilisation du livre one thinks not only of Chartier 1988but also of specialists on the twentieth century such as Rioux and Sirinelli 1997-98. In Britain, chairs and departments in the subject have been founded at the University of Aberdeen, for instance, at Manchester and at York.

As is usually the case with revivals, cultural history has been re-invented. The definition has widened to include popular culture although this concept is contestedand also everyday life: It is obvious enough that this major shift in the discipline of history is linked to a wider cultural turn. One way of defining identity, perhaps the main way, is against the other, most obviously against the neighbours whether they are perceived as good or bad neighbours.

This form of definition works for disciplines as well as nations, groups or individuals. Sociologists have noted that claims to territory are common in the academic world Becher and Trowler, 2005.

Cultural History and its Neighbours

Borrowing from the neighbours is a common practice for disciplines as well as for families. It may be useful to divide these neighbours into three groups or concentric circles, according to their distance from cultural history, which for the purpose of this article will be viewed as a planet surrounded by satellites needless to say, any discipline may be placed in the centre for this purpose. From the administrative point of view, some of these varieties of history notably art history, literature and the history of science might be called disciplines because they have their own departments in the university, while others are sub-disciplines in the sense of being only semi-autonomous.

They are more likely to have their own journals and associations than to be organized in independent departments.

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Intellectual History, history and geography the foundations of culture known, especially in the United States, as the history of ideas, and including the history of philosophy Akehurst, 2010is particularly close to cultural history. Indeed, in its traditional German form of Geistesgeschichte it was difficult to distinguish from cultural history. Sociologically speaking, however, the two groups of scholars are separate.

Departments of intellectual history are relatively unusual but programmes in intellectual history for graduate students are quite common and the approach is supported by journals such as the Journal of the History of Ideas founded in 1940 and Modern Intellectual History founded in 2004. This field, approach or sub-discipline -it is difficult to say which description is more accurate- is most important in the Anglophone world, from Scotland to Australia. The leading figure in this approach, concerned to examine the changing uses of concepts and to place them in a wider linguistic field, was the late Reinhart Koselleck, while its monument is the nine-volume Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe Brunner et al.

The relation between cultural history and social history is still more difficult to characterize Sewell, 2005 ; Glickman, 2008. A generation ago, the situation was clearer. Social historians were concerned above all with social structures and they often used quantitative methods that allied them with economic historians.

In some places, especially in Germany Mergel and Welskopp, 1997there were debates and conflicts between social and cultural historians. However, as social historians turned towards the experience of social change and cultural historians turned towards everyday practice, the two sub-disciplines have become more and more difficult to distinguish from each other.

On the other side, cultural historians have become increasingly interested in the politics of culture, including public patronage of the arts Poirrier, 2000 ; Hoock, 2003. The history of science used to be a form of intellectual history, although generally pursued in autonomous academic departments or jointly with the philosophy of science. Recently, however, a growing number of scholars in this field have made a social or a cultural turn -once again, it is difficult to distinguish the two Dear, 1995.

Visual culture studies spread quickly in the 1990s, leading to the foundation or renaming of departments at the expense history and geography the foundations of culture traditional art history. Art history was being reconceptualized as the history of images, following a minority tradition that went back to the early twentieth century but seemed to be becoming dominant a century later Bryson et al.

Some art historians go so far as to define themselves as cultural historians with a special interest in images. The politics and the power of images have attracted particular attention Zanker, 1987 ; Warnke, 1992.

The history of literature has generally been studied in academic departments that are also concerned with literary criticism, with the critics tending to look down on the historians. Its leaders, such as Greenblatt 2010have drawn on cultural history and cultural theory in order to replace literature in its original contexts.

In the process, as in the case of art history, they have sometimes defined themselves as cultural historians and moved from a history of literature in the precise sense to a broader concern with writing, women's writing in particular an Anglophone journal is devoted to this subject. The history of the book or book culture or as the French say, civilisation du livreoriginally studied by bibliographers, librarians and some general historians, has moved towards a history of reading and welcomed specialists in literature on board Martin, 1999 ; MacKenzie, 1986 ; Chartier, 1996 ; Infantes et al.

  • While in the latter the quantitative revolution is totally absent, in the work of James -some 20 years older than the German- we see reflected both his acceptance of the regional paradigm and also his sensitivity to the changes that had been taking place in the discipline in its Anglo-American context 31;
  • The histories of towns, for example, form a well defined and significant corpus;
  • The way in which physical and human elements on the Earth's surface are structured;
  • More frequently, histories are aimed within the discipline itself, either to socialize the neophytes, by indoctrinating them, through the historical presentation of the past, in the principles and methods of the discipline; or else to defend the viewpoints of scientists in discussions with colleagues or in disagreements over the theory and methods of the discipline 4;
  • At the same time, although we feel that a qualitative analysis of the contents is still essential, the application of new techniques like lexicometry will perhaps yield quantitative data which reflect the conceptual evolution 113;
  • The problem of the late development of the Scientific Revolution in the field of what is today known as biology also became a basic issue.

The history of language has traditionally been left more or less to the linguists and it used to be written in an essentially internalist manner. What might be called the political history of language has also been explored, especially in the context of empire Fabian, 1986 ; Elliott, 1994. In both groups the way in which this history has been written has changed very greatly in the last generation or so. It used to focus on ecclesiastical institutions especially in the case of Christianity and on theology, in other words the ideas of the clergy, viewed from the top down.

Today, in contrast, increasing emphasis is placed on religious practice, religious experience and the more or less consciously-formulated ideas of the laity, viewed from the bottom up.

  • There are, therefore, histories of the disciplines aimed at different audiences;
  • However, the two disciplines have been converging;
  • The changes that have taken place since 1950 have caused a fissure in the unity, which the discipline had maintained since the beginning of the century, based on the acceptance by the whole scientific community of the regional paradigm and the historicist approach;
  • The leading figure in this approach, concerned to examine the changing uses of concepts and to place them in a wider linguistic field, was the late Reinhart Koselleck, while its monument is the nine-volume Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe Brunner et al.

Scholars have become less inclined to view religious conversion as a passive acceptance of new ideas, and more willing to regard the converts as actively reshaping their new religion Gruzinski, 1988 ; Bennassar and Bennassar, 1989 ; Vainfas, 1995 ; Higashibaba, 2001.

The inner circle of neighbours also includes classics, a discipline that has long been concerned not only with ancient history but also with ancient philosophy, literature, science and art. A number of classicists, mainly but not entirely from the younger generation, are in touch with, or even part of the new cultural history. For example, the linked topics of the body, sex and gender have attracted considerable interest, following the publication of two volumes by Foucault 1984a1984b.

One historian of ancient Greece has studied these topics through texts and presented his analysis as a form of historical anthropology Winkler, 1990while another has based his analysis on the evidence of art Stewart, 1997.

Classical archaeology is one of the oldest forms of archaeology, another discipline that is close to cultural history. The paradox of the relation between archaeology and history is that although both disciplines study the human past, they have long been more remote from each other than history has been from anthropology or sociology.

  • Scholars have become less inclined to view religious conversion as a passive acceptance of new ideas, and more willing to regard the converts as actively reshaping their new religion Gruzinski, 1988 ; Bennassar and Bennassar, 1989 ; Vainfas, 1995 ; Higashibaba, 2001;
  • Within the framework of our research project, journeys are of interest first, with regard to the learning strategies -for geography and for science in general- both in the preparation and during the journey itself; this includes groundwork, previous knowledge, observations during the trip, selection of informants, use of bibliographies and maps, etc;
  • From the very beginning, geography has had a dual nature, partly mathematical and partly historical, making this study of great interest, but at the same time creating a danger because of the breadth and diversity of the directions that could be followed.

However, the two disciplines have been converging. Historians have discovered the evidential value of material culture, while some archaeologists have moved into later periods, including the Middle Ages and the Industrial Revolution.

Classics may be regarded as an interdisciplinary package, the cultural studies of the ancient world. Cultural Studies has itself enjoyed a rapid rise and an equally rapid institutionalization from the 1960s onwards Easthope, 1991 ; Gibson, 2009. It has taken somewhat different forms in different countries or culturesbut in many places a key role was played by teachers of literature: Anglophone academics working in cultural studies are often unaware of the interest in Kulturwissenschaft shown in the years around 1900 by German-speaking scholars such as Aby Warburg, whose work had much greater historical depth.

The traditions of cultural studies and Kulturwissenschaft are so far apart that a German introduction to cultural studies was forced to use the English term in its title in order to avoid misunderstanding Lutter and Reisenleitner, 1998.

Scholars in neighbouring disciplines have been attracted by the centrality of culture in anthropology -even if some anthropologists are now trying to liberate themselves from the concept Fox and King, 2002 - and also by the broad definition of culture that anthropologists employ. One might even say that the language of anthropology has become a kind of lingua franca in the humanities, particularly the language of Clifford Geertz, including his much-quoted definition of culture: Conversely, a substantial number of anthropologists, including some of the leading figures in the discipline Geertz, 1980 ; Sahlins, 1985 have been writing about the past.

The old concern with structures and functions has been replaced, or at least supplemented with an interest in processes of change, including change over the long term. It is effectively anthropology practiced by history and geography the foundations of culture from inside the culture rather than outside and its links with cultural history have traditionally been strong.

On the frontier between anthropology and sociology stood Pierre Bourdieu, whose ideas have inspired cultural historians more than anyone apart from Geertz: Other sociologists have also been moving in the direction of cultural history, thus returning to the tradition of Max Weber. However, it is gathering force, especially in the United States Alexander, 2003 ; Friedland and Mohr, 2004. Cultural historians, long accustomed to looking to anthropology for ideas, are likely to find this group of cultural sociologists to be inspiring.

Economists, on the other hand, have made no cultural turn, although some economic historians have been moving in this direction, shifting their attention from production to consumption and explaining changes in consumption patterns by changes in the culture. As in the case of economics, the dominant trend in political studies remains Rational Choice Theory, which appears impervious to cultural difference. However, there are some signs of change, some evidence of dissatisfaction with the application to the rest of the world of models of political behaviour that are derived from the West Chabal and Daloz, 2006.

One indicator of change was the conversion of a leading American political scientist, the late Samuel P. As it happens, geographers are more concerned with both culture and history than the majority of their colleagues in the social sciences. When the cultural and historical approaches are combined, as they frequently are, it becomes difficult to distinguish between cultural geographers and cultural historians -apart from the tendency of geographers to make a greater and a more explicit use of cultural theory.

However, in the last few years some scholars have been arguing that psychology, cognitive studies and history and geography the foundations of culture have something to offer students of culture, including cultural historians.

Even biology is becoming relevant, since studies of animals, notably chimpanzees, suggest that they too have culture in the sense of skills that are passed from one generation to another Wrangham et al.

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This section focuses on the future rather than the recent past and it is necessarily speculative, but the possibility of a coming revolution in the ways in which scholars analyse culture is too important to omit.

These three domains are the history of the senses, the history of the emotions and the history of social or cultural memory. Historians of the senses for example, Classen, 1993 share a topic with scientists working on visual or auditory cognition, even if their sources and methods are very different.

A few art historians have tried to close or at least to narrow the gap. Ernst Gombrich once collaborated with history and geography the foundations of culture psychologist Richard L. Gregory and Gombrich, 1973 ; Onians, 2007. The history of the emotions has been attracting even more attention than the history of the senses, witness not only the rising number of monographs but also the symposia on the subject Gouk and Hills, 2005 ; Liliequist, 2012.

However, following their sources, cultural historians have concentrated on the ways in which emotions have been represented, constructed or managed in different periods, thus placing them on a different course from neuroscientists. However, a gap remains between the cultural-historical and the neurological approaches, despite attempts to close it Boyer and Wertsch, 2009.

Most neuroscientists are concerned with the human brain in general, not with changes over time in perceptions, emotions and memories. Only if they turn their attention to cultural variation will an opportunity for a future dialogue with historians open up. Over the very long term, in other words over hundreds of thousands of years, human brains may well have changed in crucial respects.

The problem is to establish how they changed and with what consequences. The idea of evolution, prominent in historical studies in the later nineteenth century but generally rejected in the twentieth, appears to be making a comeback, at least in sociology, as two recent studies suggest Runciman, 2009 ; Blute, 2010.

Runciman argues for the importance of three forms of competitive selection in human affairs biological, cultural and socialwhile Marion Blute claims that social scientists can solve some of their problems by learning from evolutionary biology. It is too early to tell whether cultural historians will respond to this challenge or take these opportunities.

  1. For example, a unit focusing on the Industrial Revolution in Europe might also examine related developments in trade, migration, urbanization, and the spread of disease that occurred during that same era.
  2. The founding during the Restoration -specifically in 1876- of the Geographical Society of Madrid subsequently the Royal Geographical Society 33 allowed the gathering of a large number of geographers interested in all aspects of the discipline including, among the foremost, the history of geography. It has taken somewhat different forms in different countries or cultures , but in many places a key role was played by teachers of literature.
  3. Only if they turn their attention to cultural variation will an opportunity for a future dialogue with historians open up. One was the traditional sense, and was widely used in medicine at the time, which had not yet undergone the bacteriological revolution and which still laid great emphasis on the old Hippocratic line of environmental causes.
  4. More frequently, histories are aimed within the discipline itself, either to socialize the neophytes, by indoctrinating them, through the historical presentation of the past, in the principles and methods of the discipline; or else to defend the viewpoints of scientists in discussions with colleagues or in disagreements over the theory and methods of the discipline 4.
  5. Starting from an inventory of the textbooks, it is possible to produce simple bibliometric analyses which, in a first approximation, will yield the names of the publishers, the most prolific and influential authors, the importance of translations, and the number of editions or how long they survived; our study has shown that on occasion they enjoyed a life of more than half a century 111. The movement of people, goods, information and money between and among regions, countries and places.

Whether or not this will be the case, the examples discussed in this section are so many powerful reminders that the map of learning is not fixed but fluid and that cultural history's closest neighbours in the future may be very different from their neighbours in the past.