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Time and History

Time and History: The Variety of Cultures

Edited by Jörn Rüsen
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: NED - New edition, 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 262
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  • Book Info
    Time and History
    Book Description:

    This series aims at bridging the gap between historical theory and the study of historical memory as well as western and non-western concepts, for which this volume offers a particularly good example. It explores cultural differences in conceptualizing time and history in countries such as China, Japan, and India as well as pre-modern societies.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-041-8
    Subjects: History, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface to the Series
    (pp. vii-xii)
    Jörn Rüsen
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-4)
    Jörn Rüsen

    For most academics all over the world the concept of history is deeply influenced by the feature of historical studies as an academic discipline. The world is full of very different manifestations of history: oral narratives, monuments, exhibitions, museums, films, street names, advertisements, not to mention the manifold presentations of the past in literature, music, and the Fine Arts. Nevertheless, at least in the minds of the professionals, history is the realm of the work of the historians. And here we get the impression of a great similarity and uniformity. The professionals all over the world follow similar concepts and...

  5. Part I: Time

    • CHAPTER 1 Making Sense of Time: Toward a Universal Typology of Conceptual Foundations of Historical Consciousness
      (pp. 7-18)
      Jörn Rüsen

      The following argumentation is developed in the context of research dedicated to historiography in a comparative perspective.¹ Such a comparison can be easily done within a cultural context that is grounded on the same or at least on similar principles of understanding the past as history. Substantial comparative research and interpretation of Western historical thinking has been done. It is much more difficult to compare treatments of the past that lead to historical thinking in an intercultural perspective. Not much work has been done in this field; and such work as there is tends to take the most advanced form...

    • CHAPTER 2 Concepts of Time in Traditional Cultures
      (pp. 19-34)
      Klaus E. Müller

      Time and life measure one another, by way of passage, “caesuras,” activities, and experiences. All this takes place within spaces, both concrete and imagined. Time, life, and space are indissolubly bound together, forming a complementary whole—anexperiencedspace-time.

      This is what determines the dimensions of measurement—for units for which constant conditions obtain. Among the Yakuts in Siberia, for example, a “clay pot” indicated the time needed to cook a meal (in, of course, a clay pot). This took a good two hours and at the same time corresponded to the distance of seven to twelve kilometers that a...

    • CHAPTER 3 Time, Ritual, and Rhythm in Dimodonko
      (pp. 35-43)
      Fritz W. Kramer

      Dimodonko was a small, de facto autonomous Nuba land west of the White Nile in the far south of the Nuba Mountains of the Sudan until 1992, when it became the target of a Muslim Jihad militia, as did the entire territory of the Nuba. The last years before this “ethnic cleansing” constitute the situation I describe here, using the “ethnographical present.” My information stems from a field study conducted in 1975 and 1987/88.¹ The structures I intend to describe existed in similar fashion in the wider area of the southern Nuba; I shall refer to them occasionally, but not...

    • CHAPTER 4 Time Concepts in China
      (pp. 44-64)
      Achim Mittag

      Whether amused or irritated, nineteenth-century travelers to China and China experts frequently remarked upon the indifference of the Chinese toward time: they often turned up for appointments half an hour, three or four hours, sometimes even days late without the slightest trace of embarrassment; the majority of the population set their time according to the position of the sun, some even according to the pupils in cats’ eyes that change according to the time of the day; in some cities time was kept by means of very unreliable water clocks or by burning joss sticks. Mechanical clocks were only to...

    • CHAPTER 5 Aspects of Zeitdenken in the Inscriptions in Premodern India
      (pp. 65-84)
      Georg Berkemer

      The present chapter is about the change of theZeitdenkenin premodern India in a single group of sources.¹ This group contains the epigraphical material that forms the most important textual base for the historian of premodern South Asia.² It comprises a large number of historical documents that—due to the material they are written on—are termed “inscriptions.” It is not exactly known how many of these texts have been found so far, or how many of them have been published or at least entered in one of the numerous catalogues and find-lists. Estimations are generally between 50,000 and...

    • CHAPTER 6 Interpretations of Time in Islam
      (pp. 85-92)
      Otfried Weintritt

      Attempting to define the Islamic concept of time, one is confronted with two problem complexes: the relevant theological foundations on the one hand, and on the other the socioreligious strategies that have developed in the process of adhering to the regulations and obligations of the Islamic life order. A consideration of both these areas will contribute to this attempt to define the category of time in relation to its significance for historical consciousness.

      An analysis of the concept of time in Islam must be based on the foundations of its transcendent monotheism, out of which have emerged specific concepts of...

    • CHAPTER 7 Constructions of Time in the Literature of Modernity
      (pp. 93-106)
      Harro Müller

      My reflections on constructions of time in the literature of modernity begin with an ironic quotation from Nietzsche that I myself do not quote without irony: “He who has once contracted Hegelism and Schleiermacherism, is never quite cured of them.”¹ After an introductory section I will start with “Hegelism”; by the end of the text I will turn to the “Schleiermacherism.”

      In the extensive literature on the problems with time, Aurelius Augustinus is often named as the founder of the discourse for introducing the distinction between internal and external time.² His whole concept of time, which offers, among other things,...

  6. Part II: History

    • CHAPTER 8 History, Culture and the Quest for Organism
      (pp. 109-134)
      Aziz Al-Azmeh

      Since the spread of modernity as a consequence of the French Revolution and the political forms and concepts, the ideologies, and the legal norms it exported, a succession of seekers have set out on a quest for organism, for notions of umbilical immediacy, that is thought to go beyond the arid snares and illusions of Reason, of Jacobinism, of Bonapartism. At the time of the French Revolution and in reaction to it, and after the revolutionary waves of the 1830s and of 1918–1920, no less than after the demise of Communism, voices have multiplied and achieved demotic hegemony, seeking...

    • CHAPTER 9 Competing Visions of History in Internal Islamic Discourse and Islamic-Western Dialogue
      (pp. 135-150)
      Abdullahi A. An-Na’im

      This paper explores the prospects of a proactive approach to historical thinking in relation to the paradox of human difference and interdependence in a global context. The dual premise of my analysis is the reality and permanence of cultural (including religious) diversity of human societies, on the one hand, and the imperatives of peaceful and cooperative co-existence in an increasingly globalized environment, on the other. Competing visions of history, I suggest, have always been integral to conceptions of self-identity and relationship to the “other,” in individual and communal interactions. But the history of any society would have been mixed, containing...

    • CHAPTER 10 Cultural Plurality Contending Memories and Concerns of Comparative History: Historiography and Pedagogy in Contemporary India
      (pp. 151-168)
      B. D. Chattopadhyaya

      Historical thinking has always been at the crossroads; it is never homogenous or unilineal. Thus, the dynamics and the heterogeneity inherent in the writing of history merit emphasis at the outset of this chapter, if only because it is sometimes assumed that history-writing has taken a common approach so far. The initial points I make are, first, that the domain of history has not really ever been rigidly defined. It is not only since Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre effectively broke down some of its time-honored but artificial barriers that history has become open-ended; the two patriarchs of what is...

    • CHAPTER 11 Politics of Historical Sense Generation
      (pp. 169-178)
      D. L. Sheth

      It is a truism to say that sources of historical sense generation in a society are not confined to history.¹ The recognition that history’s own established procedures of making sense of the past cannot remain insulated from the influence of ideas and action moving the wider society is growing within the discipline of history itself. This has made the discipline pliable to modes of understanding the past developed in other disciplines such as arts, aesthetics, literary theory and criticism, ethnology, sociology, philosophy, linguistics, and so on.²

      This, however, does not mean that the discipline has lost, or is in the...

    • CHAPTER 12 Communalism, Nationalism, Secularism: Historical Thinking in India and the Problem of Cultural Diversity
      (pp. 179-199)
      Michael Gottlob

      “Communalism” in the political language of modern India denotes first and foremost the strivings of religious, ethnic, social, or linguistic communities to assert their particularity against the generalizing elements in the concept of the nation.¹ Thus during the course of India’s struggle for independence the communalism of the Muslims in particular distanced itself from the more broadly defined all-Indian nationalism. But other minorities, such as the Sikhs, the Tamils, the lower castes, etc., have also exhibited communalist tendencies out of fear that the postcolonial Indian state would be dominated by the Hindus, the North Indians, the upper castes, leaving them...

    • CHAPTER 13 The Search for Scholarly Identity: Renaming the Field of History in Late Nineteenth-Century Japan
      (pp. 200-211)
      Masayuki Sato

      “Nifonno Cotoba to Historia uo narai xiran to fossuru Fito no tameni Xeuani yauaragetatu Feiqeno Monogatari.” (“The Tale of the Heike, made simple in order to help people who want to learn the language and history of Japan.”).

      This caption graces the title page of the “Fabian edition” of theHeike Monogatari,published by the Jesuit press at Amakusa, Kyushu, in 1592. The entire passage is in Japanese, with the sole exception of the word “historia,” for which the Latin term is used, and in the original the entire passage—indeed the entire transcription of theHeike—is rendered in...

    • CHAPTER 14 History and Cultural Identity: The Case of Japan
      (pp. 212-223)
      Shingo Shimada

      In a schoolbook published in 1920 by the Ministry of Education for teaching Japanese at elementary schools in Japan, one lesson bearing the title “Letters from the Isle of Truk” clearly depicts a certain attitude:¹

      It has been three months since I came to this island, so that now I know how life functions here. Regardless of whether it is winter or spring back home, here on the island it is always like the summer we know at home … Surprisingly enough life is quite pleasant here. As the islands nearby are all governed by our country, there are many...

  7. Bibliography
    (pp. 224-240)
  8. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 241-244)
  9. Index of Names
    (pp. 245-248)