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Beyond “Hellenes” and “Barbarians”: Asymmetrical Concepts in European Discourse

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Beyond “Hellenes” and “Barbarians”

Asymmetrical Concepts in European Discourse

Edited by Kirill Postoutenko

396 pages, 10 illus., 10 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-679-5 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Not Yet Published (October 2022)

eISBN 978-1-80073-680-1 eBook Not Yet Published

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“This volume is a significant and innovative exploration of Kosselleck’s notion of asymmetric counter-concepts in the form of case studies based on a number of European cultures and histories. Beyond “Hellenes” and “Barbarians” places its theme firmly on the agenda of conceptual historians, which makes it a very valuable and insightful addition to conceptual history literature.” • Michael Freeden, University of Oxford


Forty years ago, German historian Reinhart Koselleck coined the notion of “asymmetrical concepts,” pointing at the asymmetry between standard self-ascriptions, such as ‘Hellenes’ or ‘Christians,’ and pejorative otherizing-ascriptions, ‘Barbarians’ or ‘Pagans,’ as a powerful weapon of cultural and political domination. Advancing and refining Koselleck’s approach, Beyond “Hellenes” and “Barbarians”, explores the use of significant conceptual asymmetries such ‘civilization’ vs. ‘barbarity,’ ‘liberalism’ vs. ‘servility,’ ‘order’ vs. ‘chaos’, or even ‘masters’ vs. ‘slaves,’ in political, scientific and fictional discourses from Greek to Dutch, Finnish to German, British to Portuguese, and many other societies from the Middle Ages to the present day. Using an interdisciplinary set of approaches, scholars across political science, literary criticism, and the history of science bolster and extend our understanding of this ever-growing conceptual history.

Kirill Postoutenko is Senior Researcher in the Special Research Area 1288 (Practices of Comparison) at Bielefeld University, Germany, and Adjunct Associate Professor (Docent) of Russian literature and culture at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He is the author and editor of eight books and eighty articles devoted to the history of Russian poetry and literary criticism, history of media and communication in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, systems theory, conversation analysis, and social history of identity.

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present History: 18th/19th Century History: Medieval/Early Modern
Area: Europe


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