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Table of contents :
Half Title
Title Page
Copyright Page
Table of Contents
List of figures
List of tables
Notes on contributors
Introduction: Engaging transculturality
Part A Delineating transculturality
1 Cultural hybridity and transculturality
2 Asymmetry in transcultural interaction
3 Global connections in transcultural research: Thoughts from a historian’s perspective
4 Not ‘cultures’, but culture! The need for a transcultural perspective in archaeology
5 Civilization(s): Use and abuse of a macro-historical category
6 Medieval concepts of migration and transculturality
7 Transculturality, or, how to find Europe beyond Eurocentrism
Part B Transcultural spaces and agents
8 Exploring the contact zone: A critical assessment from the perspective of early modern Euro-Ottoman history
9 Microcosm bazaar: Markets as places of cultural encounters and areas of conflict
10 Mobility, mediation and transculturation in the medieval Mediterranean: Migrating mercenaries and the challenges of mixing
Part C Transcultural temporalities
11 Transversal histories and transcultural afterlives: Indianized renditions of Jean Bodin in global intellectual history
12 Modern Arabic rhetorical manuals: A transcultural phenomenon
13 Migrant literary genres: Transcultural moments and scales of transculturality
Part D Transcultural semantics
14 Translating Jesuits: Translation as a useful tool to explore transculturality?
15 Islamic law with Chinese characteristics: Approaching cultural transfers through a functional theory
16 Economies of the sacred in premodern Japan
17 Cultural heritage and global architectural history between appropriation, substitution and translation: Plaster casts of Angkor Wat in a transcultural perspective
18 Appropriation of effective and changing things: A prehistorian’s perspective
19 The vocation of indigenous knowledge and sciences as metaconcepts
Part E The transcultural lens
20 ‘A very civil idea . . .’: Art history and world-making – with and beyond the nation
21 The problem with a geoaesthetic approach to the Indian Highway exhibition
22 Press powers: China, gender and the media in a global context
23 Citizenship, hybridity and the post-colonial state in India
24 The transcultural turn in the study of ‘religion’
25 Emotion studies and transcultural studies
26 Affect beyond the human: Indian agriculture in a multispecies world
27 Transforming knowledge: Concepts of transcultural studies and digital humanities
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Engaging Transculturality Engaging Transculturality is an extensive and comprehensive survey of the rapidly developing field of transcultural studies. In this volume, the reflections of a large and interdisciplinary array of scholars have been brought together to provide an extensive source of regional and trans-regional competencies, and a systematic and critical discussion of the field’s central methodological concepts and terms. Based on a wide range of case studies, the book is divided into 27 chapters across which cultural, social and political issues relating to transculturality from Antiquity to today and within both Asian and European regions and their relational entanglements are explored. Key terms related to the field of transculturality are also discussed within each chapter, and the rich variety of approaches provided by the contributing authors offers the reader an expansive look into the field of transculturality. Offering a wealth of expertise, and equipped with a selection of illustrations, this book will be of interest to scholars and students from a variety of fields within the Humanities and Social Sciences. Laila Abu-Er-Rub holds a PhD in anthropology from Heidelberg University and currently works as coordinator of the interdisciplinary Indo-German Centre of Advanced Studies ICAS:MP in New Delhi. Her research interests are visual and material culture, gender, advertising, fashion studies and colourism. Christiane Brosius is Professor of Visual and Media Anthropology at the Heidelberg Centre

for Transcultural Studies. Her research interests are urban transformation, lifecourse studies, art production and cultural heritage in South Asia (especially Nepal and India), as well as critical area studies and mobilities studies. Sebastian Meurer, PhD, is the Academic Project Manager of the Collaborative Research Centre 948 ‘Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms’ at the University of Freiburg. He specializes in intellectual, constitutional and administrative history since the seventeenth century with a focus on Britain and the British Empire. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of

Heidelberg. He has published two books, five edited volumes and 80 papers in journals and collective volumes with a strong focus on the dynamics of transcultural interaction in the Eastern Mediterranean in the second millennium BCE. Susan Richter holds a chair of early modern history at Kiel University, Germany. She has

published two books, five edited volumes and more than 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals and books on early modern intellectual and administrative history, dynasties and state building in Europe and Asia.

Engaging with . . .

‘Engaging with . . .’ is a series of big, multi-contributed volumes with between 25 and 40 contributors and up to 350,000 words in length. These volumes are typically broken into three parts, Concepts, Key Terms/Methodologies and Case Studies, and they are designed to provide a reference work for researchers and students for exciting new topics. Books in this series cover the key concepts of the field or approach being studied, and contain analysis of the significant terms being used, as well as providing case studies of research currently being done. They are the perfect opportunity to bring together the work of established academics, early career academics and postgraduate students.

In this series: Engaging Transculturality Concepts, Key Terms, Case Studies Edited by Laila Abu-Er-Rub, Christiane Brosius, Sebastian Meurer, Diamantis Panagiotopoulos and Susan Richter For more information about this series, please visit:www.routledge.com/Engaging-with/book-series/EW.

Engaging Transculturality Concepts, Key Terms, Case Studies

Edited by Laila Abu-Er-Rub, Christiane Brosius, Sebastian Meurer, Diamantis Panagiotopoulos and Susan Richter


Routledge Taylor & Francis Group


First published 2019 by Routledge 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN and by Routledge 52 Vanderbilt Avenue, New York, NY 10017 Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business © 2019 selection and editorial matter, Laila Abu-Er-Rub, Christiane Brosius, Sebastian Meurer, Diamantis Panagiotopoulos and Susan Richter; individual chapters, the contributors The right of Laila Abu-Er-Rub, Christiane Brosius, Sebastian Meurer, Diamantis Panagiotopoulos and Susan Richter to be identified as the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without intent to infringe. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data A catalog record for this book has been requested ISBN: 978-1-138-22664-7 (hbk) ISBN: 978-0-429-43006-0 (ebk) Typeset in Bembo and Stone Sans by Florence Production Ltd, Stoodleigh, Devon, UK



List of figures List of tables Notes on contributors Preface Introduction: Engaging transculturality

ix xi xii xxi xxiii


Delineating transculturality


1 Cultural hybridity and transculturality Axel Michaels


2 Asymmetry in transcultural interaction Rudolf G. Wagner


3 Global connections in transcultural research: Thoughts from a historian’s perspective Roland Wenzlhuemer


4 Not ‘cultures’, but culture! The need for a transcultural perspective in archaeology Joseph Maran


5 Civilization(s): Use and abuse of a macro-historical category Daniel G. König


6 Medieval concepts of migration and transculturality Bernd Schneidmüller


7 Transculturality, or, how to find Europe beyond Eurocentrism Madeleine Herren





Transcultural spaces and agents


8 Exploring the contact zone: A critical assessment from the perspective of early modern Euro-Ottoman history Pascal Firges and Tobias P. Graf


9 Microcosm bazaar: Markets as places of cultural encounters and areas of conflict Frank Grüner


10 Mobility, mediation and transculturation in the medieval Mediterranean: Migrating mercenaries and the challenges of mixing Nikolas Jaspert



Transcultural temporalities


11 Transversal histories and transcultural afterlives: Indianized renditions of Jean Bodin in global intellectual history Milinda Banerjee


12 Modern Arabic rhetorical manuals: A transcultural phenomenon Jan Scholz 13 Migrant literary genres: Transcultural moments and scales of transculturality Hans Harder




Transcultural semantics


14 Translating Jesuits: Translation as a useful tool to explore transculturality? Antje Flüchter


15 Islamic law with Chinese characteristics: Approaching cultural transfers through a functional theory Roberta Tontini


16 Economies of the sacred in premodern Japan Anna Andreeva vi



17 Cultural heritage and global architectural history between appropriation, substitution and translation: Plaster casts of Angkor Wat in a transcultural perspective Michael Falser 18 Appropriation of effective and changing things: A prehistorian’s perspective Philipp W. Stockhammer 19 The vocation of indigenous knowledge and sciences as metaconcepts Dhruv Raina





The transcultural lens


20 ‘A very civil idea . . .’: Art history and world-making – with and beyond the nation Monica Juneja


21 The problem with a geoaesthetic approach to the Indian Highway exhibition Cathrine Bublatzky


22 Press powers: China, gender and the media in a global context Barbara Mittler


23 Citizenship, hybridity and the post-colonial state in India Subrata K. Mitra, Jivanta Schöttli and Markus Pauli


24 The transcultural turn in the study of ‘religion’ Hans Martin Krämer


25 Emotion studies and transcultural studies Max Stille


26 Affect beyond the human: Indian agriculture in a multispecies world Daniel Münster


27 Transforming knowledge: Concepts of transcultural studies and digital humanities Armin Volkmann



427 vii

Taylor & Francis Taylor & Francis Group http:/taylorandfrancis.com



2.1 2.2 8.1

‘A Vision of the Future’, Puck, or the Shanghai Charivari, 1872 Xu Bing, ‘A Case Study of Transference’, Beijing Han Mo Arts Center 1994 An overview of the topography of Istanbul, based on a late eighteenthcentury map by François Kauffer 9.1 (Old) Green Bazaar in Harbin-New Town, early twentieth century 9.2 Picture from the inside of Pristan Bazaar. Harbin, 1930s 16.1 The seven deities of Mt. Asama. ‘Ise Asama ga take’ 16.2 Benzaiten 17.1a Louis Delaporte’s Musée indo-chinois at the Parisian Trocadéro palace around 1900 17.1b The Bayon-styled hybrid pavilion within the museum 17.2 The bas-reliefs of Angkor Wat inside the Ethnographical Museum in Berlin/Stresemannstraße, after 1905 17.3a Angkor Wat in Cambodia after the first French colonial restoration measures since 1908, in an aerial photography of 1936 17.3b Postcard of the 1:1 replica of Angkor Wat as Palais du Gouvernement général de l’Indo-Chine within the Indochinese section of the Exposition Internationale Coloniale in Paris 1931, Park de Vincennes 17.4 Delaporte’s 1900 plaster cast replicas from Angkor in a 2013 exhibition in the Musée Guimet in Paris 17.5 The copies of the original plaster casts from Angkor Wat for the former Ethnographical Museum of Berlin, recently rediscovered and restored for the future Humboldt-Forum (2013) 17.6a,b Photos of the model of the exhibition spaces of the planned Humboldt Forum in Berlin (2016) 18.1a,b Minoan conical cups from Tel Beth-Shemesh, Level 9 22.1 Chinese women in the past, present and future, 1909 22.2 ‘Anna Karenina’, 1928 22.3 Images for the comic series ‘He and She’, 1931 22.4 ‘Women reading’, 1932 22.5 Ideas of female progress and emancipation, 1909 23.1 T. H. Marshall’s concept of citizenship 23.2 T. H. Marshall’s hyphenated society 23.3 Urbanization of BRICS states 23.4 Citizenship index, comparison by gender, residence, education, caste and class

20 21 112 130 132 237 238 253 254 255 256

257 258

259 260 270 333 335 337 339 341 353 354 358 364 ix

List of Figures

23.5a 23.5b 23.5c 23.5d 23.6

Citizenship – Metropolitan ‘dip’ No Metropolitan Dip when excluding Delhi & Gujarat Metropolitan Dip in Delhi Metropolitan & City Dip in Gujarat Riots per 100,000 inhabitants in the metropolis and (the three largest) cities in Gujarat 26.1 Location of Wayanad District in South India 26.2 The multicrop gardens of zero budget natural farming 27.1 Buffer map of finding sites in the GIS 27.2a,b Two types of network connectivity diagrams


364 365 365 366 366 404 407 419 421


23.1 23.2 23.3 23.4 23.5 23.6 23.7

Are you a citizen of India? Perception of political empowerment and socio-economic capacities Perception of empowerment and capacities, comparison by locality Who is an ‘un-citizen’? comparison by locality No metropolitan dip regarding citizen duties Citizenship index, comparison by socio-demographic background Multiple regression analysis of citizenship index with socio-demographic variables

359 359 360 361 361 363 367


Notes on contributors

Laila Abu-Er-Rub, PhD, studied cultural anthropology, religious studies (both at Heidelberg

University) and media studies (University of Mannheim) after a vocational training in advertising, music publishing and distribution. From 2009–2017 Abu-Er-Rub worked for the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ as Research Area Coordinator and as Post-Doc in the EU-funded HERA SINGLE project ‘Creating the “New Asian Woman” – Entanglements of Urban Space, Cultural Encounters and Gendered Identities in Shanghai and Delhi’. Delhi was also the main location of Laila’s PhD research in visual and media anthropology on changes in dress and body ideals in contemporary urban India. At present, she is employed by the Max Weber Stiftung ‘Foundation German Humanities Abroad’ and works as Head of Administration for the International Centre for Advanced Studies ‘Metamorphoses of the Political’ (ICAS:MP) in New Delhi. Anna Andreeva, PhD, Cantab., has worked as a Postdoctoral, Research, and Visiting Fellow

at Harvard (2006–2007), Cambridge (2007–2010), the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken, Kyoto, 2012–2013), Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (MPIWG, Berlin, 2016), International Consortium for Research in the Humanities (IKGF, Erlangen, 2017), and Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ (2010–2012, 2013–2016, present). In 2016–2017, she has served as an interim chair of Japanese history at the Faculty of East Asian Studies, Ruhr-Universität-Bochum. She is the author of Assembling Shinto: Buddhist Approaches to Kami Worship in Medieval Japan (Harvard Asia Center, 2017) and co-editor of Transforming the Void: Embryological Discourse and Reproductive Imagery in East Asian Religions (Brill, 2016). She is currently directing a new research project ‘Buddhism, medicine, and gender in 10th–16th century Japan: toward a transcultural history of women’s health in premodern East Asia’, sponsored by the German Research Council (DFG) for 2017–2020 at Heidelberg. Milinda Banerjee is Research Fellow at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich, and Assistant

Professor at the Department of History, Presidency University, Kolkata. His doctoral dissertation (Heidelberg University), on concepts of rulership and sovereignty in colonial India (ca. 1858–1947), has been published as The Mortal God: Imagining the Sovereign in Colonial India (Cambridge University Press, 2018). He is also co-editor of Transnational Histories of the ‘Royal Nation’ (2017), and author of two books and several essays at the intersections of South Asian and transregional intellectual history. His current project at Munich relates to a global intellectual history of the Tokyo Trial (1946–1948), focusing especially on debates about legal philosophy in contexts of Cold War and decolonization. xii

Notes on contributors

Christiane Brosius is Professor of Visual and Media Anthropology at the Heidelberg Centre

for Transcultural Studies (HCTS). She has published on Hindu Right’s media production and use in India (1990s, see Empowering Visions, A Study on Videos and the Politics of Cultural Nationalism in India, Anthem 2005) and India’s Middle Class. New Forms of Urban Leisure, Consumption and Prosperity (2010). Brosius headed a multinational EU-funded research project entitled ‘Creating the “New” Asian Woman. Entanglements of Urban Space, Cultural Encounters and Gendered Identities in Shanghai and Delhi’ (2013–2016) and on popular culture of romantic relations in contemporary Delhi. Currently, Brosius conducts research on the role of cultural heritage in post-earthquake Kathmandu, and on art production and the global art market in Nepal and India. With artist Sanjeev Maharjan, she published Breaking Views. Engaging Art in Post-earthquake Nepal (2017). Cathrine Bublatzky, PhD, is an anthropologist and research member at the Chair of Visual and Media Anthropology at the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (since 2009). In 2014 she finished an ethnographic project on contemporary art from India entitled ‘Along the “Indian Highway”: An Ethnography of an International Travelling Exhibition’ (to be published by Routledge 2019) and was awarded with a fellowship at the ELITE PostDoc Program from the Baden-Württemberg Foundation for her project ‘Contemporary photography as a cultural practice by diasporic Iranians in Europe’ (2017). Recent publications deal with artistic and photographic practices and Islamicate cultures in migration contexts. Michael Falser is a trained architect and art historian. He was Project Leader for Cultural

Heritage Studies and Architectural History at the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ at Heidelberg University (2009–2017) where he is currently Interim Professor for Global Art History (2018/19). His latest book projects were Kulturerbe und Denkmalpflege: transkulturell (transcript 2013), Archaeologizing Heritage (transcript 2013), Cultural Heritage as Civilizing Mission (2015) and The European Architectural Heritage Year 1975 (2015). His monograph on Angkor Wat. From Jungle Find to Global Icon. A Transcultural History of Heritage will be published in 2019 with DeGruyter. Pascal Firges is Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute in Paris. He studied at the universities of Heidelberg, Paris-Sorbonne, and Cambridge. He is the author of French Revolutionaries in the Ottoman Empire: Diplomacy, Political Culture, and the Limiting of Universal Revolution, 1792–1798 (2017) and of Großbritannien und das Osmanische Reich Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts (2009), and the co-editor of Well-Connected Domains: Towards an Entangled Ottoman History (2014). His recent areas of research include the French Revolution, the cultural history of diplomacy, entangled histories of early modern Europe and the world around it, cultural and gender history, and the political and social structures of early modern court societies. Antje Flüchter is Full Professor in Early Modern History at the University of Bielefeld (Germany). In 2002 she earned her doctorate (Church Politics and Everyday Life in Jülich and Berg in the 16th and 17th century) from the University of Münster. Between 2008 and 2012 she led a research group about transcultural statehood at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellency ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ and, during 2012-2015, she led another project about Jesuit transcultural Christianities at the same institution. In 2012 she was habilitated at Heidelberg University with a book entitled Representations of Indian Statehood in the German Speaking Discourse. Flüchter has published several works and articles on early modern global history, the history of the confessional age in the Holy Roman Empire and in India, the history of knowledge and gender history. xiii

Notes on contributors

Tobias P. Graf, PhD, is Research Associate at the University of Oxford and previously taught at the University of Tübingen. Having read history at the University of Cambridge, he obtained his doctorate from Heidelberg University in 2014. His dissertation, which was part of the research project ‘Dynamic Asymmetries in Transcultural Flows at the Intersection of Asia and Europe: The Case of the Early Modern Ottoman Empire’ at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’, has been published as The Sultan’s Renegades: Christian-European Converts to Islam and the Making of the Ottoman Elite, 1575–1610 (2017). Frank Grüner is Professor of Eastern European History at Bielefeld University. Before joining

the Department of History in Bielefeld in 2017, he was working as a Research Fellow and Project Leader at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. His research focuses on Russian and Soviet history, in particular on the history of Jews and anti-Semitism as well as on Russia’s entangled history with Europe and Asia. His books include Entangled Histories: The Transcultural Past of Northeast China (with Dan Ben-Canaan and Ines Prodöhl, Springer 2014), The Russian Revolution in Transcultural Perspective: Identities, Peripheries, and the Flow of Ideas (with Felicitas Fischer von Weikersthal et al., 2013) and Patrioten und Kosmopoliten: Juden im Sowjetstaat 1941–1953 (2008). Hans Ulrich Harder studied Indology and cultural anthropology at Hamburg, Heidelberg and Halle Universities, and has been Professor of Modern South Asian Languages and Literatures at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University since 2007. His research interests are modern literatures in South Asia, particularly Bengali, religious movements, and colonial and postcolonial intellectual history. He has authored Sufism and Saint Veneration in Bangladesh (2011) and Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay’s S´ rı¯madbhagabadgı¯ta¯. Translation and Analysis (2001) and has edited Asian Punches. A Transcultural Affair (with Barbara Mittler, 2013) and Literature and Nationalist Ideology. Writing Histories of Modern Indian Languages (2010). Madeleine Herren is Full Professor of History and Director of the Institute for European Global Studies, University of Basel, Switzerland. From 2007 to 2012 she co-directed the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ in Germany. She has written several books, book chapters and journal articles on European and global history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, internationalism and the history of international organizations, networks in historical perspective, historiography and intellectual history. Among others, she is the author (with Martin Rüesch and Christiane Sibille) of Transcultural History. Theories, Methods, Sources (2012), Internationale Organisationen seit 1865. Eine Globalgeschichte der internationalen Ordnung (2009), ‘Gender and International Relations through the Lens of the League of Nations (1919–1945)’, in: G. Sluga, C. James (eds.), Women, Diplomacy and International Politics since 1500 (2016), and the editor of Networking the International System. Global Histories of International Organizations (2014). Nikolas Jaspert studied medieval history, Hispanic philology and art history at the Free University of Berlin. After holding positions in Berlin, Erlangen-Nuremberg and Bochum, he became Professor for Medieval History at the University of Heidelberg in 2013. He is co-editor of the Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung (ZHF) and five book series as well as member the Institut d’Estudis Catalans and president of the Société Internationale des Historiens de la Méditerranée. His academic work is centred on the medieval Mediterranean, the history of the Iberian Peninsula, the crusades, medieval religious orders and urban history. URL and publications: www.uni-heidelberg.de/fakultaeten/philosophie/zegk/histsem/mitglieder/ls_prof_ jaspert/ls_jaspert_jaspert.html. xiv

Notes on contributors

Monica Juneja is Professor of Global Art History at the University of Heidelberg. She has written extensively on transculturality and visual representation, the disciplinary practices of art history in South Asia, the history of visuality in early modern South Asia, Christianisation and cultural practices in early modern South Asia, heritage and architectural histories in transcultural perspective. Her book publications include Peindre le paysan. L’image rurale dans la peinture française de Millet à Van Gogh (1998); Architecture in Medieval India: Forms, Practices, Histories (2001); Universalität in der Kunstgeschichte? Theme Issue Kritische Berichte (with M. Bruhn and E. Werner, 2012); Contextualizing Choices: Islamicate Elements in European Arts (with V. Beyer and I. Dolezalek, 2012); Archaeologizing Heritage? Transcultural Entanglements between Local Social Practices and Global Virtual Realities (with M. Falser, 2012); Kulturerbe Denkmalpflege transkulturell: Grenzgänge zwischen Theorie und Praxis (with M. Falser, transcript 2013); Disaster as Image. Iconographies and Media Strategies across Asia and Europe (with G. J. Schenk, Schnell & Steiner 2014); Miniatur Geschichten. Die Sammlung indischer Malerei im Dresdner Kupferstichkabinett (ed. with P. Kuhlmann-Hodick, Sandstein 2017); EurAsian Matters. China, Europe and the Transcultural Object (with Anna Grasskamp, 2018). Her book in preparation is entitled Can Art History be Made Global? A Discipline in Transition, based on the Heinrich Wölfflin Lectures which Monica Juneja delivered at the University of Zurich. Monica Juneja edits the Series Visual and Media Histories, is on the editorial board of Visual History of Islamic Cultures, Ding, Materialität, Geschichte, History of Humanities, The Medieval History Journal, Heidelberg Studies in Transculturality and is co-editor of Transcultural Studies. Daniel G. König holds the chair for the History of Religions at the University of Konstanz. A Latin medievalist and Arabist by training, his research focuses on relations between the Latin– Christian and the Arabic–Islamic sphere in the period between 600 and 1600. Major publications include Bekehrungsmotive (2008), on motivations to convert to Christianity in the late Roman and early post-Roman period, Arabic-Islamic Views of the Latin West. Tracing the Emergence of Medieval Europe (2015), and ‘The Unkempt Heritage. On the Role of Latin in the ArabicIslamic Sphere’ in Arabica (2016). Hans Martin Krämer is Professor for Japanese Studies at Heidelberg University. His main

expertise is in the modern history of Japan, with a specific focus on education, religion, and human–nature relations. His increasing attention to viewing Japan from the point of view of transcultural history is reflected in his most recent publications, which include the article ‘Pan-Asianism’s Religious Undercurrents: The Reception of Islam and Translation of the Qur’a¯n in Twentieth-Century Japan’ in The Journal of Asian Studies (2014), the monograph Shimaji Mokurai and the Reconception of Religion and the Secular in Modern Japan (2015), and the co-edited volume Religious Dynamics under the Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism: A Sourcebook (2016). Joseph Maran is Professor for Pre- and Protohistory at Heidelberg University. From 2013

until 2017 he served as a Director of the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. His research interests are related to issues of transculturality and changing lifeworlds, of the nexus between architecture and social practice as well as of material culture and social memory in Copper and Bronze Age societies at the Mediterranean interface between Europe and Asia. Maran has recently co-edited the volumes Materiality and Social Practice: Transformative Capacities of Intercultural Encounters (2012) and Appropriating Innovations: Entangled Knowledge in Eurasia, 5000–1500 BCE (2017). Sebastian Meurer, PhD, is the Academic Project Manager of the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 948 ‘Heroes – Heroizations – Heroisms’ at the University of Freiburg. Previously xv

Notes on contributors

he was a Research Associate and Research Area Coordinator at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the University of Duisburg-Essen. His doctoral dissertation (Heidelberg, 2014) develops an intellectual history of public administration in Britain and British India at the beginning of the Age of Reform. He is co-editor of the volume Konstruktionen Europas in der Frühen Neuzeit (2017) and a series editor of Critical Readings in Global Intellectual History. Axel Michaels is Senior Professor of Classical Indology at the South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg. From 2007 to 2017 he was one of the Directors of the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. Since 2006, he is a member of the Heidelberg Academy of Science and head of the project ‘Religious and Legal Documents of Pre-modern Nepal’. Major book publications include Homo Ritualis. Hindu Rituals and its Significance for Ritual Theory (2016), S´ iva in Trouble. Rituals and Festivals at the Pas´upatina¯tha Temple of Deopatan, Nepal (2008); Hinduism. Past and Present (2004). A monograph on Nepal’s history was published by Kröner (2018). Subrata Mitra is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at South Asia Institute, Heidelberg

University. His research is focused on the politics of India, drawing upon methods of comparative politics and rational choice. His major publications include Politics in India: Structure, Process and Policy, Second Edition (2017), Modern Politics of South Asia (5 volumes, 2008), The Puzzle of India’s Governance: Culture, Context and Comparative Theory (2005), and Power, Protest and Participation (1992). He is the series editor of the Routledge Advances in South Asian Studies series (Routledge, London). Barbara Mittler holds a chair in Chinese studies at the University of Heidelberg and is CoDirector of the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies. She received an MA from the University of Oxford (MA Oxon 1990) while her PhD (1994) and her habilitation (1998) are from Heidelberg. In 2000 she was awarded the Heinz-Maier-Leibnitz-Prize. In 2013, Mittler’s book-length study of the Chinese Cultural Revolution won the Fairbank Prize by the American Historical Association. Her research focuses on cultural production in (greater) China covering a wide range of topics from music to visual and historical print media in China’s long modernity. Daniel Münster is a Social and Cultural Anthropologist (PhD 2005, LMU Munich) at the

Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies, with interests in Environmental Humanities, Health and Ecology, and the Anthropology of Food and Agriculture. He was leader of the Junior Research Group ‘Agrarian Alternatives in South Asia’ (2013–2017) at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. Münster is author of Postkoloniale Traditionen (transcript 2007) and co-editor with Ludek Broz of Suicide and Agency (Ashgate, 2015). He is currently working on a book called Cultivating Hope: Settlers, Suicides and Symbiosis at the Agrarian Frontier in South India. Diamantis Panagiotopoulos is Professor of Classical Archaeology at the University of

Heidelberg. His research interests include landscape archaeology, the social structures of Minoan and Mycenaean civilisations (particularly social hierarchy, political organisation, economy and religion), sealing practices, visual language, and the interconnections between the Aegean and the Near East in the second millennium BCE. He has extensively published on Bronze Age Greece, Egypt and the Levant combining material and textual evidence and has participated in several excavations at major Bronze Age and Classical sites in Greece. He is currently directing xvi

Notes on contributors

an interdisciplinary research project at Koumasa (south Crete) aiming at the comprehensive study, reconstruction, and sustainable development of an archaeological landscape in a marginal Mediterranean region. Markus Pauli, PhD, is a Lecturer in Global Affairs at Yale-NUS, Singapore. His research focuses on financial inclusion and the governance of global food value chains. He was a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University and worked on Indian microfinance within the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. He studied at the Free University, Berlin and the London School of Economics (LSE), specializing in political economy and international relations. He has co-authored work on India’s democracy, socio-economic development, and security and co-edited the book Politics in South Asia: Culture, Rationality and Conceptual Flow (2014). Dhruv Raina is Professor at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He studied physics

at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, and received his PhD in the philosophy of science from Göteborg University. His research has focused on the politics and cultures of scientific knowledge in South Asia, as well as the history and historiography of mathematics. He has co-edited Situating the History of Science (1999) and Social History of Sciences in Colonial India (2007), Science between Europe and Asia (2010), he is the author of Images and Contexts (2003) and co-authored Domesticating Modern Science (2004). His book Needham’s Indian Network (2015) focuses on the historiography of science in South Asia and the attempts towards institutionalizing the history of science in the region. His more recent work addresses the contemporary concerns of the emergence of inter- and transdisciplinarity, with a special focus on econophysics and sociophysics, and fields across the natural and social sciences. Susan Richter is Acting Professor for Early Modern History at the University of Heidel-

berg and Deputy Speaker of Research Area ‘Governance and Administration’ at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. From 2019, Richter holds the chair of Early Modern History at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, with particular focus on global history. She has published two books, five edited volumes and more than 30 papers in peer-reviewed journals and books on early modern intellectual and administrative history, dynasties and state building in Europe and Asia as well as on theory of reform. Bernd Schneidmüller is Professor of Medieval History at Heidelberg University, Director of the Marsilius-Kolleg, Institute for Advanced Study of the University of Heidelberg, and member of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (vice-president 2014–2016). His publications concentrate on the history of medieval Europe, processes of integration and disintegration in medieval cultures, rituals and symbolic communication, and decision-making in medieval communities. He received the Eike-von-Repgow-Award Magdeburg in 2016, and was an Invited Visitor at the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, School of Historical Studies in 2014. Jivanta Schoettli is Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute of South Asian Studies, National

University of Singapore. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the South Asia Institute, Heidelberg University, Germany and a Masters in Economic History, London School of Economics, UK. Her current research focuses on India’s foreign policy, especially maritime outreach. Recent publications include India’s 2014 General Elections: A Critical Realignment in Indian Politics? (co-author, 2016); The Dynamics of Transculturality: Concepts and Institutions in xvii

Notes on contributors

Motion (co-editor, 2015), Strategy and Vision in Politics: Jawaharlal Nehru’s Policy Choices and the Designing of Political Institutions (2012). Jan Scholz (participated in a research project on Islamic sermons at the Cluster of Excellence

‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ at Heidelberg University. There, he defended his doctoral thesis on Islamic preaching and rhetorical theory in contemporary Egypt, for which he conducted fieldwork in Egypt working with different Islamic preachers between 2011 and 2015. The subjects of his other publications include Sufism and Islam on the internet. At present, he is working at the Thuringian Ministry of Internal Affairs focusing on Islamist extremism, radicalization, and internal security. Max Stille studied Islamic studies and South Asian history at the University of Heidelberg and

from 2012–2016 was part of a research project on transcultural dynamics of Islamic sermons at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. In 2017, he completed his dissertation on Islamic sermons in contemporary Bangladesh, analysing the ways in which religious ideas are communicated through aesthetic, literary, and performative forms. Currently, he is Researcher with the Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin. His research interests include contemporary Islam, particularly in South Asia, the history of religion in a global context, hermeneutics, and narratology. Philipp W. Stockhammer is Professor for Prehistoric Archaeology with a focus on the Eastern

Mediterranean at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich and Co-Director of the Max Planck-Harvard Research Center for the Archaeoscience of the Ancient Mediterranean at Jena. After his PhD 2008 at Heidelberg University, he was part of the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ and lecturer at the University of Basel until 2016, when he also received an ERC Starting Grant. He is a Fellow of the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences, the Center for Advanced Studies of LMU Munich and corresponding member of the German Archaeological Institute. His research focuses on the transformative power of intercultural encounter, human-thing-entanglements, social practices and the integration of archaeological and scientific interpretation. Roberta Tontini, PhD, is Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’. She is the author of Muslim Sanzijing. Shifts and Continuities in the Definition of Islam in China (2016), as well as various articles on the history of Chinese Islam. Tontini conducted several years of research in China, while serving as a Lecturer and Research Fellow at the Law School of Xiamen University (China), the Department of Ethnology and Sociology of the Minzu University (China), as well as the Sinology Institute of the University of Heidelberg (Germany) and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (China). Armin Volkmann, PhD, is Research Coordinator at the initiative museum4punkt0. Digital Strategies for the Museum of the Future at the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz Berlin. Before, he was Junior Research Group Leader for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ and the Interdisciplinary Research Center for Scientific Computing, Heidelberg University. His research interests include cultural heritage, digital humanities, web-mapping, Archaeological Information Systems (AIS), Virtual Research Environments (VRE) and network analyses. Among his publications are ‘Geografische Informationssysteme in den Digital Humanities’, in Digital Humanities – Eine xviii

Notes on contributors

Einführung (2017); ‘Methods and perspectives in geoarchaelogical site catchment analyses: identify paleoclimate signals from the Iron Age until the Middle Ages in the Oder river region’, in Digital (Geo-)Archaeology and Digital Cultural Heritage. Natural Science in Archaeology (2017) and ‘Perspectives for Network Analyses: Roman roads, “Barbarian” paths and settlement patterns in the borderland at the Limes Germanicus in river Main Region’, in Open Archaeology (2017). Rudolf G. Wagner is Senior Professor of Chinese Studies at the Center for Chinese Studies,

Heidelberg University, and Associate at the Fairbank Center, Harvard University. An intellectual historian interested in the political implications of philosophical and literary works and in the transcultural interaction between China and the world, he is a recipient of the highest German scholarly distinction, the Leibniz Award. He was one of the initiators of the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ and is a co-editor of the journal Transcultural Studies. His publications include an extensive study on the Laozi commentator Wang Bi, the edited volumes Joining the Global Public: Word, Image, and City in Early Chinese Newspapers, 1870–1910 (2008), Chinese Encyclopaedias of New Global Knowledge (1870–1930) and Modernity’s Classics (2013) as well as studies in conceptual history such as ‘ “Dividing up the [Chinese] Melon, guafen 瓜分”: The Fate of a Transcultural Metaphor in the Formation of National Myth’ in Transcultural Studies. Roland Wenzlhuemer is Professor of Modern History at the University of Munich. He is

specifically interested in the history of globalization in the long nineteenth century. In this context, he has recently worked on the history of the telegraph and of steamship passages. He is the author of Connecting the Nineteenth-Century World: The Telegraph and Globalization (2012) and of Globalgeschichte schreiben. Eine Einführung in 6 Episoden (2017).


Taylor & Francis Taylor & Francis Group http:/taylorandfrancis.com


The objectives for the interdisciplinary research collaborative from which this volume on transculturality has evolved in the context of the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ at Heidelberg University have been shifting and asymmetrical relationships of humanistic disciplines as well as public debates that reflected a change of relations and hierarchies in the context of studying, assuming and experiencing ‘Asia’s rise’ in the global economy in the late twentieth century. A ‘fixed’ notion of Global North’s alleged dominance came to be questioned, and brought to the surface a problematic compartmentalization and essentialization of ‘Asia’ and ‘the West’ as diametrically opposed. Moreover, a sense of needing to recalibrate how we literally come to terms with these changes on a heuristic basis, but also with respect to research foci, sources and questions, was brought to the fore. This moment of instability and search led to a remarkably fruitful and yet challenging alliance of scholars from the so-called ‘area studies’ and the ‘systematic’ disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, to a repositioning of binaries that are, on the one hand, so productive for a scholarly topography and, on the other hand, so fast in ‘naturalizing’, for instance, our maps of fringes and centres, assumptions about globalization’s ‘speed’ in connecting and networking and our sense of boundaries. The synergies arising from transdisciplinary cooperation and a willingness to question one’s ‘toolkits’ by means of pushing concepts such as ‘transculturality’ and ‘transculturation’ into an intellectual arena of contestation shaped the collaborations of the various authors in this book for more than a decade in the context of interdisciplinary research collaboration at Heidelberg University. While transcultural studies are not limited to a specific region, it is Asia and Europe that have been featuring centrally in the aforementioned collaborative endeavour, given two of the traditional strengths of Heidelberg University. Within this multi-perspectival research environment, we examined diverse discourses evolving around the relationalities between ‘Asia’ and ‘Europe’ as geophysical ‘areas’ and heuristic fields. In the early years of the new millennium both were ‘internally’ undergoing many changes and experiencing multiple tensions, which also affected the ways in which they related to each other. Area knowledge, disciplinary competence and new approaches to writing history/ies were at stake and much needed, and of transculturality proved to be a fertile tool to push their boundaries and reposition them. To proceed the combination of synchronic and diachronic approaches by considering historical dimensions across regions and until pre- and protohistory was particularly productive. Beyond the firmly established focus on the history of Europe from ancient to modern times, Heidelberg’s post-war attention towards studies on Asia has nurtured a dynamic interdisciplinary and highly condensed conglomerate of scholars from more than a dozen disciplines (and more than 20 Asian languages taught), assembling the South Asia Institute (since 1962), the Centre for East Asia Studies (with the Institute of Chinese Studies founded in 1962) and the Institute of Ethnology with its current focus on South-East Asia and Oceania. xxi


Based on this solid fundament, the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ was founded in 2007 within the framework of the Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Government, to engage in a critical and dynamic repositioning of research concepts and methodologies that connect the so-called ‘area studies’ with a particular competence in Asia with the ‘systematic’ disciplines that predominantly work on and from a Euro-American context, in order to build bridges and allow for a new format of conversations. The German Excellence initiative in the higher education sector also involved an introduction of new structures into the academic landscape in Germany that enabled such an endeavour to become sustainable. In the course of this period, the Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies (HCTS) was established, applying many of these approaches also in the context of teaching (Master of Transcultural Studies, MATS), of a structured doctoral programme (Graduate Programme of Transcultural Studies, GPTS) and the newly founded Centre for Transcultural and Asian Studies (CATS) at Heidelberg. This volume, which provides a comprehensive compilation of this collaborative endeavour, could not have happened without the strong support from the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’ and our thanks go to the German Research Foundation (DFG) for supporting this infrastructure to blossom in the context of the Excellence Initiative. At the Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’, Oliver Lamers, Andrea Hacker, Joseph Maran and Axel Michaels deserve special mentioning. We also owe enormous gratitude to those who supported us in the final editing and reading phase, particularly Philipp Multhaupt, Omita Goyal and Marta Swoboda, as well as Steve Bahn, Andrea Hacker, Nina Nessel, Petra Kourschil, Brendan Ryan, Sebastian Schütte, Malcolm Green and Patrick Zerner. At Routledge, we thank Laura Pilsworth and Morwenna Scott. The editors, February 2018


Introduction Engaging transculturality Laila Abu-Er-Rub, Christiane Brosius, Sebastian Meurer, Diamantis Panagiotopoulos and Susan Richter

The dramatic increase in the density and speed of global circulation and interconnectedness as well as the political and economic shifts and ruptures accompanying the end of the Cold War in the outgoing twentieth century have fundamentally challenged the viability of scholarly approaches that took the nation state as their default mode. Scholars in the humanities and social sciences have begun to respond to challenges that are not contained within geographical compartments, thereby tending to transgress disciplinary boundaries. This new line of thought questioned the centre-periphery dichotomy by demonstrating its Eurocentric pedigrees, as deriving from a position that claims alleged superiority by means of holding the monopoly over knowledge, economy and civilization. Postcolonial theory has largely, and rightly, critiqued such approaches by arguing that a decolonization of knowledge needs a critical re-mapping of traditional monolithic concepts. It was in this context of postcolonial research attitude that transculturality first arose, contesting traditional master narratives and enabling researchers to view research fields from different points of view, for instance by exploring ongoing colonial geographies, subaltern agency and the periphery as a site of theorization (Roy 2011). One of the principal assumptions of transcultural studies has been that a ‘culture’ is constituted by processes of interaction, circulation and reconfiguration. Despite the fact that culture has been considered as genuinely processual in other scholarly fields within the humanities and social sciences (e.g. Appadurai 1995) the impact of a transcultural approach had major effects in that it led to a recalibration of area studies authority and the methodological disciplines. From this perspective, culture is constantly changing, moving, adapting – and is doing this through contact and exchange beyond real or perceived borders. It is this inherent transculturality of cultural phenomena and practices that requires disciplines in the humanities and in particular in cultural studies to elaborate adequate analytical tools equipped with methodological reflexivity in order to facilitate a multidimensional approach that treats polarities and simple binaries with utmost caution and highlights diverse and scalar relationalities instead. Focusing on transculturality both as a historically embedded phenomenon of relationality and as a theoretical concept and method, this volume addresses scholarly challenges that have a deep resonance with political, social and cultural issues in our world, such as structural asymmetries and economic inequalities, migration or social transformation. Drawing on a decade of interdisciplinary research at Heidelberg University, it demonstrates the impact xxiii

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of transculturality on a wide range of fields in the form of a critically reflexive research perspective and practice.

Genealogy of a term The history of transculturality as a research concept can be traced back to 1940 when the ethnographic study Cuban Counterpoint: Tobacco and Sugar (Original title: Contrapunteo Cubano del tabaco y el azúcar), written by anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, was published with an introduction by his famous colleague, Bronislaw Malinowski. Ortiz was one of the pioneers challenging stable and static definitions of ‘culture’ as geographically bound entities long before the so-called cultural turn in the 1970s and 1980s. His monograph is a critique of colonialism, explained through case studies on tobacco and sugar, and through a historical analysis of Cuban national culture as a result of transformative processes caused by the (im-)migration of various peoples over centuries. On the first page of the introduction to his book, Ortiz explains why he dismissed the term ‘acculturation’ used in other anthropological accounts for investigating the political and cultural situation of Cuba during his time. Instead, he employs ‘transculturation’, a term that, as he elaborates later, can be used [. . .] to express the highly varied phenomena that have come about in Cuba as a result of the extremely complex transmutations of culture that have taken place here, and without a knowledge of which it is impossible to understand the evolution of the Cuban folk, either in the economic or in the institutional, legal, ethical, religious, artistic, linguistic, psychological, sexual, or other aspects of its life. The real history of Cuba is the history of its intermeshed transculturations. (Ortiz 1995: 98) Ortiz compares cultural transformations caused by colonial encounters with the education of a child. Though being the offspring of two persons, children are never simple copies of their parents. They develop their own nature against the backdrop of what they learned and experienced, but are always characters in their own right. As Monica Juneja argues in this volume, Ortiz’s study, though not being widely received in academia for decades, still holds valuable lessons for research about networks of power and identity formation in a contemporary world coined by people, material objects, media and ideas on the move. His complex ‘analysis of political and cultural boundaries as artifices of power’ ( Juneja, this volume) remains relevant for enquiries in the humanities and social sciences. However, the potential of Ortiz’s theory was not recognized until the 1990s. The turning point came with Marie Louise Pratt’s monograph Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, in which she introduces the term ‘contact zone’. This paved the way for Ortiz’s rediscovery (Pratt 1992; see also Firges and Graf, in this volume). Similar to Ortiz, Pratt’s research revolves around imperialism, colonial encounters and cultural transformation. Her interest lies in changes in the allegedly ‘weaker’ society caused by cultural contact, particularly by the ‘tremendous historical force [that] has been wielded by the European ideologies of territory and global possessiveness’ (Pratt 1992: 11). By looking at alterity discourses in European travel writing about non-Western ‘others’, she addresses dynamics between the European ‘metropole’ and the non-European ‘periphery’. Like Ortiz’s Cuban Counterpoint, Pratt’s account addresses relational identity formation and intersectional power structures in spaces of cultural exchange. For her, transculturation happens in the ‘contact zone’, which she describes as a xxiv


[. . .] space of colonial encounters, the space in which peoples geographically and historically separated come into contact with each other and establish ongoing relations, usually involving conditions of coercion, radical inequality, and intractable conflict. (Pratt, 1992: 6) Pratt’s argument about porous and dynamic spaces coined by mobility that transcend regional identification promotes new modes of perception and production in a ‘contact perspective’ (Viehbeck 2017: 11) necessitating new conceptions of culture. In this respect, it resembles influential post-colonial theories written at the beginning of the 1990s, for instance Homi Bhaba’s notion of a ‘third space’, a concept he developed to study mimetic processes of appropriation and translation, and to demonstrate the processual nature of crosscultural interaction and identification (Bhabha 1994) or Arjun Appadurai’s concept of diverse deterritorialized ‘scapes’ that must be distinguished in order to understand the complexity of cultural processes in the context of modernization and globality (Appadurai 1995). Like the works of Ortiz and Pratt, these approaches stress the importance of cultural production as meaning-making and central for the understanding of either colonization or economic globalization. They highlight the inherently processual character of culture and also the role of migration and media in the production of trans-regional and trans-national identifications. Transculturality, as the German noun Transkulturalität, first appeared in an article by German philosopher Wolfgang Welsch just after the demise of the Cold War (Welsch 1992), and at the same time when Pratt’s Imperial Eyes was published. A few years later, two edited volumes contained revised versions of Welsch’s article in English (Welsch 1996, 1999). By means of distinguishing the concept of transculturality, which the author sees as most adequate to describe the ‘puzzling form of cultures today’ (ibid.), from inter- and multiculturality, he responded to societal debates on the impact of globalization and migration on national culture in Germany. Consequently, Welsch’s theory has been widely received – as well as critiqued – within German humanities and social sciences, particularly in the fields of media and communication studies (Hepp and Löffelholz 2002; Hepp 2006; Schachtner 2015; Stehling 2015; Düvel 2016), gender studies (Mae and Saal 2007), literary and cultural studies (Blioumi 2006; Blumentrath et al. 2007; Specht 2011; Gremels 2013; Ernst and Freitag 2014; Butt 2015), anthropology (Schlehe 2005; Kohl 2013), (ethno-)psychiatry (Nadig 2004; Wohlfart and Zaumseil 2006) and educational studies (Datta 2006; Takeda 2012; Darowska et al. 2014; Eremjan 2016; often identified with intercultural learning or communication).1 Welsch has often been criticized for retaining segregate cultural entities, instead of culture in singular, to address the relational formation of identities in past and present (Maran, in this volume). At the same time, he considers the term ‘intercultural’ as inappropriate, even though, as Britta Saal points out from the perspective of gender studies, the perception of differences and the felt need to bridge these through dialogue between communities is integral to the contemporary societies that Welsch addresses (Saal 2014: 34f.). For the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in a Global Context’, Welsch’s Transkulturalität provided a fruitful starting point for critical discussion. These debates impact the inherent interdisciplinarity of the university’s collaborative research approach in the emerging field of ‘Transcultural Studies’. They expressed a shared concern within diverse academic disciplines to include multiple and self-reflexive perspectives with respect to concepts and research subjects. The idea behind this was to unravel complex societal and cultural phenomena, responding to paradigmatic shifts around the turn of the new millennium, when the geographies of economic and political power were transformed and when in the advent of the internet and social media translocal connectivities were further intensified, disrupted and diversified. There xxv

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are two fundamental points of Welsch’s concept that, in our view, need amending. First, transculturation is detectable even in pre- and protohistory, as Stockhammer as well as Maran underline in this volume; thus, the limitation to the present and recent past suggesting an intrinsic connection to globalization theory cannot hold true. The central problem with Welsch’s theory remains, however, his conception of culture. Welsch developed Transkulturalität in a critical engagement with the German Enlightenment philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder’s concept of culture, i.e. the close conjunction of a people and its culture. Herder had used the metaphor of a people as a sphere with its stable culture as a gravitational centre guaranteeing its inner cohesion – also framed as identity – and demarcation to the outside. While Welsch partly deconstructs Herder’s concept, he retains the analogy of the sphere and thus the essentialization of bounded cultural entities, only partly relativizing their homogeneity by pointing towards processes of multi- and interculturality (Herder 1989 [1784]; Welsch 2000: 330). The analysis of interaction between two or more cultures therefore still serves as a means to substantialize perceptions of cultural difference. Following these critiques, a transcultural perspective needs to focus on the very interactions, or rather, the multiple dis/connectivities, taking into account agents and their actions. Coming to terms with transculturality thus means to substitute the container concept of culture with one that considers relational cultural processes of interaction, interstices and disjunction.

Coming to terms with transculturality Transcultural presuppositions The dual usage of ‘transculturality’ as a theoretical term and historical phenomenon has led to some irritation about the concept. Yet, they are but two sides of the same coin: transculturality points to a set of fundamental, universalistic assumptions with the potential to reorient research on the full range of human experience. In order to make that reorientation productive and more concrete, transcultural research has appropriated a range of methodologies and terminologies. Transculturality is built on the understanding that cultures in the widest sense have never evolved as distinct entities or even primarily by interaction of separate units. Rather, entanglement, exchange, porosity and hybridization have always been an instrumental part of the ongoing definition and development of cultures. The syllable trans- (as opposed to, for instance, inter-) points in that transgressive and translatory direction: borders create border-crossing, in dividing they simultaneously connect. Ostensibly, there is a paradox at the heart of transculturality: in order to point to the transcultural, one first has to assume separate cultures, while simultaneously negating their existence. Pointing to a ‘third’ or a transitory and liminal space ‘in between’, whose constitution and location can only be defined in relation and opposition to the self-contained units it professes to replace, cannot resolve this dilemma. Moreover, how can one deny what has been a real and defining element for human perception and human action – the nation, the ethnic group, the tribe? The paradox can, we think, be dissolved by means of a conscious shift towards a processual and multi-sited perspective (Bhabha 1994; Appadurai 1995). Even and especially in their transgression are borders instrumental in an ongoing – in fact: interminable – process that constantly shapes and reshapes the social reality of cultural entities. Borders are performed, acted and discussed and thereby define and redefine cultures. They create difference, but also tend to magnify this difference and blank out similarity and connection. Therefore, in a transcultural view, nothing is truly static, rather, we only get to see snapshots of processual dynamics of (trans)culturation.2 At the heart of transculturality xxvi


lies an ontological conviction that comes with a universalistic claim: a transcultural perspective is, in our view, a more adequate mode of approximating reality. Transculturality has developed as an antithesis to a national approach that implicitly or explicitly accepts nations as given entities, in, between, or towards which culture is said to have developed (methodological nationalism), identifying ‘cultures’ with geophysical units framed by territorial boundaries. Rather, nations and their borders are dynamically changing cultural formations among others. At the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence, we based our research on the shared conviction that everything, any action, any event, any idea or material object is – at least in principle – transcultural. In this sense, transculturality, even in its inherent anti-essentialist stance, borders on theories of origin. By replacing the national paradigm, it becomes an a priori itself, almost approaching the status of what Giorgio Agamben calls an urphenomenon, neither solely an abstract idea nor particular reality, but bridging phenomena and their conception. According to Agamben, such urphenomenona are marked less by their historical, but rather by their paradigmatic and ontological content, as a constitutional precondition of knowing (Agamben 2009). We propose to view transculturality as a paradigm in this very sense. Michel Foucault and Thomas S. Kuhn determine paradigms as concrete historical conjunctures which develop normative and regulating force. To Kuhn, a paradigm constitutes the criterion of scientific truth, a regulative determining the valorization of scientific statements and even determining what comes under consideration at all. A paradigm shift, according to Kuhn, questions prior explanations and their very framing (Kuhn 1962). While Kuhn’s concept primarily aimed at the hard sciences, Michel Foucault has provided insights that facilitate its application to the ostensibly softer subject matter of the humanities, by pointing to the power effected by a constellation of statements, the shifting of which can radically redraw the boundaries of what can be said – and of what can be known (Foucault 2002 [1969]).3 In our view, this applies to transculturality. We hold transculturation to be a fundamental social and societal process that permeates not only large socio-political entities, but any kind of socio-cultural group culture. The perspective effected by this presupposition discloses the rhizomatic patterns (Deleuze and Guattari 1987: 12) of cultural entities of different kinds permeating and shaping each other by their multi-layered connection, non-linear temporalities and transgressions. Transculturality opens up a universalistic, holistic and deconstructivist view on the world that is dimensional in character. We therefore argue that a transcultural perspective can (and should) always be part of the heuristic set, as it opens up an additional dimension of analysis that has the potential to radically shift the resulting picture.

Paradigmatic shifts Engaging transculturality responds to a series of programmatic paradigm shifts that have surfaced and further ‘condensed’ interdisciplinary debates in the past two decades. Like the various paradigm shifts that were coined by ‘turns’ such as the ‘cultural turn’ (see Bachmann-Medick 2014), the ‘spatial turn’, or the ‘mobilities turn’ (Sheller and Urry 2006; Sheller 2017), the prefix trans- indicates a change, or widening, of perspectives in the humanities and the social sciences. A multi-perspectival repositioning helps consider, locate and trace the various ‘entrypoints’ or a study of cultural exchange and translation (Asad 1986). In the past decades, approaches taking up these lessons flourished as antithesis to the ‘one-way-road’ of geophysical mapping of nations (methodological nationalism) and regions (area studies), which can be traced back to the rise of academic disciplines and concepts emplacement in Eurocentric imperial and colonial imaginaries, historiography and politics of the nineteenth century. In the critical approach towards this container-model-perspective, postcolonial studies played a major xxvii

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part in bringing to the surface and repositioning asymmetries, also by calling for new concepts (Huggan 2013). However, transculturality departs from (post-)colonialism not least by widening the focus and becoming a primary anchor of theorizing culture, and identifying traces of transculturation across all times and spaces. Transculturality has been a springboard for disciplines such as art history and anthropology, for instance, to gaze outside their ‘box’ – the first by critically examining their ‘naturalized’ toolbox of concepts such as ‘creativity’, ‘original’ and ‘copy’, ‘influence’ or ‘borrowing’ (see Kravagna 2017, often used in a discourse around ‘burden of representation’, see Mercer 1990; Juneja 2011), the latter by challenging its own terminology and narratives of empowerment by means of terms such as ‘indigenous’, ‘traditional’ or ‘authentic’ in light of the discipline’s own colonial or orientalist history (see Fillitz 2010). Thereby, notions of ownership and property became important points of contestation in both disciplines. Art history and anthropology alike have sidelined issues of global connectivities and circulation until the late twentieth century, both have tended to compartmentalize ‘traditional’ versus ‘modern’ and ‘high’ versus ‘low’ art, attending to agency, materiality and politics of representation with a new sensibility for area expertise and multiperspectivity in their respective disciplinary temporalities and tensions (see Hall 2006; Harris 2006). In the context of the ‘transcultural turn’, the crucial role of cultural anthropology cannot be overestimated. This discipline has led several pioneering debates generating dramatic transformations in the self-perception and critical reflections of other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences that have become key postulates of transcultural studies today and impacted a rethinking of area studies (Houben 2017). One reason being the self-critical reception of ‘ethnology’s’ colonial past, as a discipline that became instrumental for legitimizing and ‘giving evidence’ to colonial and racial ideologies and rhetoric since the 1980s. In particular, the ‘writing culture-debate’, also known as ‘crisis of representation’ (Clifford and Marcus 1986), laid foundations for a re-positioning of empirical research’s role in affirming ethnic and racial stereotypes, cultural difference (as particularity) and the role of modernity-narratives therein (‘alternative modernities’). Impacted by French post-structuralist debates on power, a more Anglo-American discourse on post-colonialism, and a predominantly Western European engagement with post-modernity as the end of ‘large narratives’ (also in terms of scientific epistemologies), anthropologists shaped explorations of connectivities (Hannerz 1996), cultural practice (Appadurai 1995), the need to rethink spatial politics of de-colonization (Chow and de Kloet 2014), multi-locality and the challenge of methodological adjustment (Marcus 1995; Geschiere and Meyer 1998; Falzon 2009). Anthropology’s longstanding essentializing notion of ‘modern’, ‘Western’ cultures versus ‘non-Western’, ‘indigenous’ cultures has been much critiqued and reflected (see Inda and Rosaldo 2007; Tsing 2005). It is interesting that other disciplines, such as history and art history have turned to this ethnocentric epistemological divide and dilemma later, from different positions, and yet, with a seemingly similar pledge for repositioning concepts and methods, turning to agents and agency, objects and mobilities, calling for political stance and awareness of modernity’s multitude (Kravagna 2017: 15). This explains the emphasis of transgressive studies on processes and moments of encounter, exchange and even ‘clash’, on locality and synchronic as well as diachronic scales of encounter (Strathern 1995), if not even ‘jumping scales’ as a method to reposition geographies of power and ignorance, as Willem van Schendel (2002) proposes. In recent years, history, too, has been strongly affected by, and in turn become instrumental for, the transcultural turn. Historians have increasingly challenged the Eurocentric and yet universalized and universalizing historiographic approach that had become a dominant narrative of the academic discipline in the nineteenth century – and by which particular perspectives and xxviii


histories from and about Asia or Latin America, for instance, have been excluded or turned into mere ‘decorum’. Likewise, Europe, from such a monolithic vantage point, has hardly been seen as shaped by its colonial, imperial, international relations, or from its ‘peripheries’. A history of and epistemological sensorium for transculturation challenges ‘fixed’ binary oppositions such as ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’, ‘origin’ and ‘derivate’ and seeks to dwell in interstitial contact zones, reflecting on translation processes. Postcolonial perspectives allowed for a release of, and approach towards, ‘other’, predominantly subaltern voices, proposed ‘new languages’ that could articulate non-European perspectives, pointing towards intense, often intangible entanglements of the kinds Dipesh Chakrabarty (2000), Sebastian Conrad, Shalini Randeria and Regina Römhild (2013), have stressed in their writings about Europe’s relational position in a colonial, imperial as well as postcolonial context. In doing so, they aimed at de-centring Europe and de-colonizing disciplines such as history or anthropology (see also Chow and de Kloet 2014). From such a standpoint, recognizing and tracing Asia’s presence in Europe is as relevant as studies on how Europe (also as an idea) impacted, and impacts, Asia. The national framing of historical research had, in fact, long been cause for epistemological unease among historians. Progressively, the discipline shifted its focus by stressing first the European, then the transnational, and finally the global dimensions and applying its findings also to ostensibly domestic matters, while keeping track of methodological implications. Since the 1980s, this found expression in new methodological advances, concerning, for instance, the construction of ‘the other’ (Todorov 1985), or the nature of ‘cultural transfer’ (Espagne 1997; Middell 2001) and leading to debates on a social history of cultural exchange and the mechanisms of acculturation (Middell 2001; Espagne 2006). Taking up suggestions of the (initially innerEuropean) histoire croisée, global history set out to overcome worldviews shaped by old patterns and regional contingencies (Komlosy 2011: 14). Since the 2000s, global history has become first an accepted additional dimension for historiography (Middell 2002; Conrad et al. 2007) and, finally, a necessary vanishing point of historical synthesis (Crossley 2008; Osterhammel 2014). Such vantage points allow for going beyond a rhetoric of ‘influence’ (of ‘A’ on ‘B’; such as ‘European modern art’ on ‘non-Western modern art’) or static and linear ‘diffusion’ (from ‘A’ to ‘D’, ‘E’ and ‘F’; with concepts such as ‘democracy’, or ‘citizenship’, but also with institutions; see Flüchter and Schöttli 2015). Conrad and Randeria’s appeal to understand nation-building as something intrinsically transnational and entangled was one approach that facilitated a more differentiated understanding of the ways in which social and political networks, institutions and ideas connected across the spatial and conceptual boundaries of the nation-state. It goes without saying that asymmetrical tensions, hierarchies and contestations impacted connectivities as much as disconnectivities, firm ties as much as ruptures. ‘Global history did not mean telling the story of everything in the world. What was global was not the object of study, but the emphasis on connections, scale and, most of all, integration’, writes Jeremy Adelmann.4 This, however, does not mean that all is well and either seamlessly connected, or openly accessible for everyone alike: there are substantial asymmetries in the distribution of goods and other forms of capital, and a global history, as much as a vernacular anthropology, would want to address the ruptures, frictions, inequalities and disconnectivities of ‘flows’ as much as the turns towards new nationalisms or/and nativisms (see, for instance, Hochschild 2016). A transcultural history pushes the boundaries of European-trained historians and other disciplines as much (in terms of regional and linguistic competences; see Herren, below and in this volume) as the questioning of concepts such as ‘origin’ and ‘originality’ across all fields alike. One central aim in this process would be to de-universalize the ‘big disciplines’ and to de-fragmentize the ‘small’ disciplines (that are often still perceived as empirical extensions of the large disciplines but not as substantial forces of theorization). As Yiu Fai Chow and Jeroen xxix

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de Kloet argue in their special issue on academic responses to Europe’s relation to ‘rising Asia’ (for instance to Chow’s thought-provoking book Asia as Method and more recent nativist interests in and from Asian countries that facilitate ‘reverse’ culturalist compartmentalization): Taking Europe as power, and Europe as theory, we argue for better understanding, dialogue and cross-fertilization between cultural studies and area studies. The former needs the latter’s sensibility to spatial and cultural context, as much as the latter needs the former’s theorizations. (Chow and de Kloet 2014: 4; on new Asianism, see also Yu 2013) The challenge is that in the light of the asymmetries, a repositioning of Eurocentric roots of many concepts employed today must also not just mean to reverse the gaze and end up reifying (Pan-)Asianism or even smaller units of essentialized – ‘isms’ (e.g. indigenism, nativism). Indeed, write Chow and de Kloet, ‘the advocacy for a return to indigenous theory and culture usually masks, with the violence of “the West,” the violence of the cultural politics that is within an indigenous culture’ (Chow 1998: 9, emphasis in original; quoted in Chow and de Kloet 2014: 9). As seen by these brief and exemplary forays,5 the transcultural turn at the very least contributes to a softening of disciplinary borders, maybe even questions their institutional framing. It has been our experience in Heidelberg that transcultural research indeed profits from interdisciplinarity. The goal is to open the often institutionalized and conceptual boundaries between the ‘systematic disciplines’ (e.g. history, philosophy, political science) in the humanities and the social sciences and the so-called ‘small disciplines’ and ‘area studies’ that engage with premodern and/or non-Western research fields and questions, quite in accordance with Sheldon Pollock who calls for a ‘broader reconfiguration in the academy that divided area-based and discipline-based knowledge’ (Pollock 2016: 919) and argues that, ‘disciplines need to be arealized no less than areas need to be disciplined’ (ibid.: 915).6 Rather than abandoning the ‘era’ of area studies because of criticisms to enforce European imperialist orientalism, on the one hand, and Cold War agendas based on an American hegemony versus ‘knowing the enemy’ rhetoric, on the other hand, a ‘third’ wave of area studies has been proclaimed by some protagonists in the fields of cultural studies. This rejuvenation underlines the importance of considering area studies in a ‘global’ sense (Hornidge and Mielke 2017; Jackson 2003) and adding substance by providing critical tools for re-mapping the ‘geographies of power’ (van Schendel 2002). We argue that a transcultural approach is central for the success of such a repositioning.

Practising the transcultural turn The above-sketched paradigmatic shift generates and informs approaches across the humanities highlighting cultural relationality. In order to do so, transcultural approaches as practised by the authors in this volume necessitate a non-essentialist, multi-scalar and self-reflexive shift of perspective. Transculturality challenges notions of ‘container cultures’ and concepts often coined from a diffusionist or Americo-Eurocentric perspective. This involves a repositioning of spatial concepts with respect to the overlapping fields of entanglement or/and relationality of cultural practice, and a critical discussion of supposed binary oppositions such as local and global or centre and periphery. It also investigates concepts that touch upon practices of boundary-drawing, on borders, borderlands or contact zones as well as the emergence of de- and re-territorialized spaces or networks of interactions (scapes, scales; see Firges and Graf, in this volume; Appadurai 1995; van Schendel 2002). As sketched above, a central premise of the ‘transcultural lenses’ is a processual and multi-sited view of cultural practice, such as the xxx


‘process geographies’ coined by Arjun Appadurai (2010). Thus, multiple geographically flexible networks can be identified that work dynamically across scale, at multi-directional and temporal speed.7 Hence, this allows for the study of ‘deep’ locality and globality, as well as connectivities and ruptures, speed and inertia, rather than assuming a steady smooth flow between geographically fixed poles. Connectivities are dynamic relations and processes connecting not only modern nation-states and other societal institutions, but also past societies, languages, institutions, markets, media and much more. A transcultural approach, as we understand it, must focus explicitly on connections and relations, discontinuities and frictions, not only among nation-states and their predecessors (kingdoms, empires) but also among stateless societies, transnational organizations, institutions, languages and media. It shifts the gaze toward interstices, transitions and exchanges, and thus repositions any studied case in a space of relationality and contingency. These vantage points ensure underlining entanglement and relationality while also acknowledging dynamics of enclosure, friction and dissonance. A transcultural lens focuses not merely on the fact that two sites are connected, but also on how the connections transform what is being connected, and who is involved (and who excluded). This connecting relationality impacts research in, as well as infrastructure of, this network. It must take into account a repositioning of boundaries from a multi-perspectival and translocal radar, and it must be able to move across and connect scales: a transcultural approach requires more of an insight into shifting borders than into the additive history of European nation states and cultural legacies. [. . .] A spatial definition of Europe cannot provide a substantial answer to the question of transcultural history, whereas the issue of how and under which historical circumstances the idea of Europe developed and came under pressure is more fertile. (Herren, Rüesch and Sibille 2012: 97, 98) Without side-lining the importance of the nation-state in the contemporary world, a transcultural approach thus challenges methodological nationalism, as well as the ‘zoning’ of the world into ‘developed’ and ‘less developed’, centre and periphery, universal and anecdotal as a key assumption of area studies. It is important to stress that transculturality – even when perceived of as global entanglement and (at the very least) intense interaction between world regions – not only concerns the ‘globalization’ of the last one or two centuries. Rather, it can be uncovered throughout human history. Nor can we discern a teleological trend towards evercloser connection throughout history. For instance, the very institutionalization of nation-states has done more to disconnect than to connect (see Herren, in this volume). A transcultural view of historical processes over centuries brings out the centrality of emulation as a site of cultural practice across different regions and position imitation – or mimesis – in a field of creativity and demotic subversion in order to deal with domination and difference. It enables a radical examination of embraidedness by expanding diachronic and synchronic approaches to premodern material and contexts (see Flüchter and Schöttli 2015). Such global connectivities, contact zones and cultural transfers (Firges and Graf, in this volume; Espagne 2003, 2006: 17) have so far often been ignored because of an embeddedness of the research in territorial concepts grown from a suggestive ground of methodological nationalism. Multiple temporalities and spatialities play a crucial role in transcultural approaches. Exploring moments and processes of transculturation in a diachronic and synchronic manner often means operating across regional and temporal, but also disciplinary, scales in such a way that relations and connectivities can be traced and brought into conversation, that comparison becomes possible without running the danger of comparing ‘pears with apples’. Not coincidentally have xxxi

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important positions in this field been made by tandems or teams of historians, anthropologists, scholars of literature or religion – in all those fields, certain limitations have been experienced especially since the 1990s, that intellectual and regional ‘monocultures’ cannot capture the fabric of world-making any longer (there are, of course, earlier interventions, e.g. by F. Ortiz, or by art and cultural historian Aby Warburg (see Weigel, Gaines and Wallach 1995), who, in their own fields, challenged the conventional disciplines and discussions on ‘culture’ by focusing on transgression and translation, also in their political context). Especially for studies that depend on material and visual culture, such as pre-modern archaeology, a transcultural approach makes possible the tracing of multi-directional trafficking, thus rethinking mobilities that might have previously been studied in a more linear context, grounded on assumptions such as ‘origin/ality’ and ‘influence’. For example, the circulation of Buddhist rituals and translations, material culture and ritual experts across Central and East Asia around the sixth to twelfth centuries BCE reveals unexpected process geographies, mobilities and ‘connectivities’ (Andreeva, in this volume; Appadurai 2010). Connectivities prompt us to focus on entanglements, transactions, transgressions, mediators that are operative between locales and regions – and equally, on ruptures, antagonisms and closures leading to disconnectivities (Wenzlhuemer, in this volume). While connectivities are a relevant heuristic lens for research, and rope in other important methodological approaches, such as comparison (see Epple and Erhart 2015), they are essential to thinking and further impact the fabric of our network: knowledge production both constitutes and transforms those who are connected. Many entanglements and connectivities remain intangibly ‘hidden’ when using a regionalist or national vantage point, as Nikolas Jaspert, Madeleine Herren or Bernd Schneidmüller underline in this volume. Connectivities and entanglements require an understanding of arrival and departure points, but more than that, of the relational space inbetween, of the quality, spatiality and temporality of relationality. This leads to the task of mapping transculturation, by tracing the genealogy of practices and ideas. In this light, ‘knowledge production’ can be understood as a dialectical and multilateral process: the point is not only to acknowledge that ideas and practices were regularly transmitted, but to explore the various modes of that transfer. Depending on the intentions of agents, power levels involved as well as situational contexts, such processes can be differentiated as adaption, appropriation or imitation (see Banerjee, Flüchter, both in this volume). These can take the form of a conscious construction of models based on a partial knowledge of the other, or they can evolve in practical interaction (e.g. in contact zones), which in turn may necessitate ex-post justification. Both ideas and practices migrate not only spatially, but also over time. Seemingly discontinued, they often lay dormant in the cultural imaginary, to be taken up in radically different contexts. In a transcultural approach, ideas and practices cannot be described as clearly segregated modes; rather, they are mutually dependent, as practices inspire ideation, while agents need to anchor practices in ideological frameworks. Cultural translation helps to understand the complexities of every step. The unravelling of processual relationalities necessitates identifying the agency of individual actors, groups or material objects. Individuals or groups are the real ‘protagonists’ of transcultural interaction determining – with their intellectual background, social role, expectations and interests – the character and intensity of border-crossing processes. While transcultural connectivities can potentially affect any member of a given society, there are groups – or types – of agents which merit special attention, because they may play a central role in the circulation of an idea, or a matter. From subaltern history to global history, from translation studies to anthropology, the diversity of social agents as ‘brokers’ or ‘mediators’ is undenied, yet challenging, since the ways of researching elite or vernacular practices differ and require a set of different xxxii


methods at hand (see Herren, Jaspert, both in this volume). Postcolonial theories have impacted much on the repositioning of concepts and research methods. However, a transcultural history, for instance, would also go beyond a subaltern history. The latter would for instance not consider a whole range of cultural brokers such as judges, diplomats and traders, nor priests or missionaries, nor artists, anarchists or seafarers as adequately fitting the category of the ‘subaltern’. Instead, they too turn invisible in many studies once they have crossed geophysical or conceptual boundaries and vanished into the distance, not graspable but from a transcultural perspective. So, such a transcultural vantage point on such border-crossing agents brings in new considerations with respect to mobilities, temporalities and space. Novel hermeneutical tools from the field of material studies have opened new ways for understanding the active role of things in networks of human-object-interaction (Latour 2005). This active role becomes most apparent in the case of exotic objects often accredited with a magnetic power, which by their very materiality shape the character of specific cultural practices. Things can develop an agency of their own and materially constitute a structure by acting as conditions of practice. When moving into different social, spatial or temporal contexts, objects are reconfigured in, and in turn configure, new webs of meaning (see Stockhammer, in this volume). As such, they function as materialized mediators between real, imagined or idealized cultural contexts. Tracing these reconfigurations goes much further than to state that something ‘is’ hybrid (see Michaels, in this volume). The ‘biography’ and migratory circulation of an image, an object or a media technology can help us zoom in on transculturation (see Kopytoff 1986). A major challenge is to consider, trace and contextualize the rhizomatic fabric of such meandering itineraries, the social agents and institutions associated with them en route and in different intensities and relations. Moreover, often certain scales and qualities of circulation and mediation depend on an array of mediascapes, including different media-competent agents, and must be distinguished as much as temporal and historical depths (see Mittler, in this volume). In a highly mobile and multi-directional field such as the international art world, a transcultural and relational approach becomes an adequate tool to tackle non-Western art beyond the ‘burden of representation’ (Mercer 1990). Especially from an anthropological viewpoint, like Bublatzky’s (in this volume), the importance of place-making and spatial imaginaries is of substantial relevance, since the study of different speeds and halts in contexts of entanglement and relationality is as important as circulation and mobility. The ‘substance’ of places is impacted by them, after all, and thus the anthropologist offers the concept of ‘translocation’ (Freitag and von Oppen 2005) as a complementary tandem partner to that of transculturality as a lens. By no means does this delete ‘othering’ practices, museums are crucial ‘hubs’ of such cultural and ethnic distancing. But the acts of exhibiting are acts of translation and appropriation, which requires understanding of agents’ agendas and competences. Monica Juneja’s chapter on art history and/as world-making shows how institutions, museums, markets and ideas may serve as a web that allows for the shaping of an ‘alternative conception of globality to be able to effectively theorize relationships of connectivity that encompass disparities as well as contradictions, and negotiate multiple subjectivities of the actors involved’ ( Juneja, in this volume). Genealogical routes along which art objects or idols travel are one point of investigation, as well as the transculturation through appropriation into a particular local context. But these journeys too need halts, stages, arenas – in metropolitan cities across the globe, in sites that ‘host’ – or hide – them for a time, in a special way. Certainly, experiential places such as the international art event documenta in Kassel, the Venice Biennale or the newly built Humboldt Forum in Berlin contribute to the transculturation of art-works from elsewhere – and stress the need for a transcultural lens – to ‘get hold’ of them without fixing them in a corset of xxxiii

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interpretations. Museums across the world have different trajectories of collecting, exhibiting, contextualizing ‘their’ objects, and have in recent years become a central ‘hub’ of investigation for many scholars and visitors. Finally, by discarding phantasms of ownership by origin, a transcultural view highlights the longue-durée globality of certain discourses impacting on the application of research terminology. Concepts which have been taken up, adapted, and mirrored in different world regions for several centuries can hardly be reduced to some ostensible nineteenth-century European core (see Krämer, in this volume). In the case of descriptive or analytical vocabulary, rather than pausing at the thought of an ingrained European academic hegemony, it is rewarding to trace their ever-contested semantic dynamics (see Raina, in this volume).

The structure of this book What this book does not aspire to do is to provide a systematic companion on transculturality, since any attempt to formulate a closed canon would disregard the fluidity of the term itself, which may be part of its very productivity: the same presuppositions have impacted different disciplines and research fields in particular manners. This transgressive, transformative and transversal potential of transculturality as research practice and heuristic lens is what we aim at bringing fruitfully together in this multi-perspectival volume. The chapters presented here demonstrate the potential of transcultural research and simultaneously make its lessons accessible, thereby providing a large toolkit for future research. At the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence ‘Asia and Europe in Global Context’, we have conducted and discussed multidisciplinary transcultural research for a decade without a predefined normative methodology or fully unified terminology. The aim of this volume is to render our experience palpable and indeed applicable for a wide range of research fields by delivering concrete stimuli to transcultural research. In order to do so, we have asked the contributors to take a conscious theoretical and methodological approach by reflecting on theoretic foundations, methodological tools and terminology of their research and relate them to transculturality, while demonstrating their practical potential by means of a case study. Instead of trying to define one closed method, we thus aim at tapping into transculturality’s potential for a wide range of research. All articles contained in this volume provide exercises in concretization of the transcultural paradigm in methodological application. A premise for that is to explicate what role exactly the transcultural perspective played for the respective research endeavours. The subtitle ‘concepts, key terms, case studies’ encapsulates the heuristic means by which we address this challenge: as a first step, we’ve asked our authors to pick and elaborate one or more key terms or research concepts which – in their view – can unlock the potential of transcultural research. Each author critically discusses their concepts, demonstrating their hermeneutical potential by means of an informative case study. This sets the ground for a general critical evaluation of their transcultural approach including its limits, with a view on fruitful synergies with other disciplines, and towards future areas of study. Such an inductive procedure may be said to preclude a systematic epistemological mapping of transcultural methodology; it forgoes any claim for a definite metatheory of the chosen key terms. What it may lack in comprehensiveness, it makes up for in comprehensibility. The chapters can be read as exemplary exercises in transcultural research design and its outcome. While the methodological mix is potentially unbounded, the chapters reveal an open canon of methodological instruments and heuristic tools adapted to concrete disciplinary needs. Nevertheless, a joint understanding of what transculturality means permeates these texts – across all disciplines, the transcultural view evidently does highlight and problematize similar issues. xxxiv


Our contributors pursue the goal of this volume with an impressive range of case studies allowing them not only to explore different fields and methods of transcultural research but also to substantiate and expand the hermeneutical value of the new paradigm by introducing new terms (transcultural moment, transcultural function, transcultural lens and transcultural scale) that enhance its applicability and sharpen our analytical perspective. Due to the intrinsic plurality of transculturality, it is difficult to arrange this collection of chapters into a neat structure which corresponds to established principles of categorization relating to time, space, methods, fields of knowledge, or the like. A suitable vantage point for a sensible framing of the individual chapters is provided by the twofold nature of transculturality, which refers to a historical phenomenon/process – providing as such a concrete object of investigation – and at the same time to an analytical mode. Based on the dual dimension of the term, the chapters are grouped in five sections, which revolve around crucial issues of transculturality either as historical reality or as a methodological toolset.

Part A: Delineating transculturality The volume opens with approaches that focus on the foundational parameters of transculturality, such as hybridity, asymmetry and dis-/connection as well as on concepts that are very closely related to and yet must be understood as ‘holding against’ this term (e.g. culture, civilization). By zooming into Indian mythology and history, Axel Michaels demonstrates the methodological weakness of the ‘hybridity’ concept. He explains why transculturality provides a more advanced and differentiated analytical tool for exploring cultural ‘entanglement’ versus ‘fusion’. The innovative approach, as the author stresses, focuses on connectivities, which do not always reveal themselves easily, nor do they point to a naïve ‘mixture’. In an attempt to overcome the transcultural aporia, Michaels differentiates three forms of transculturality, those being ‘open’, ‘hidden’ and ‘methodological transculturality’. Whereas the first corresponds to the traditional term ‘cultural hybridity’, the second elucidates complex entanglements that are not visible at the surface of cultural interaction, and the latter refers to the method itself as a default mode or heuristic concept. Sinologist Rudolf G. Wagner discusses asymmetry as one of the driving forces of transculturality. At its most basic level, asymmetry defines a fluctuating dynamic relationship between two components that moves towards symmetry and balance. Based on the ubiquitous quality of asymmetry as fact and of symmetry as a ‘lofty goal’, Wagner implements both concepts as analytical tools. Following his clear-cut thesis, transcultural interaction can be perceived as a history of asymmetrical relationships between two parts releasing forces for maintaining, enhancing, reversing or balancing them out. In focusing on the dynamics of these complementary processes, Wagner outlines some basic parameters of asymmetrical relationships relating to the construction of binary others, ‘pull’ and ‘push’ processes (underlining the significance of the first), and especially phenomena of ‘massive translation’ in the course of which asymmetrical forces release the highest levels of energy and agency. Global historian Roland Wenzlhuemer looks at connections less in a descriptive manner but rather as a powerful analytical concept. He contains that they should be studied as historical phenomena in their own right. Contrary to traditional approaches which conceptualize connections from their endpoints, highlighting not the connections themselves, but that which is connected, the author shows that the former actually act as mediators rather than mere intermediaries and may have a strong impact on the latter. The main theoretical premise of transculturality, i.e. the inclination to overcome the monolithic concept of ‘culture’/‘civilization’ and to develop more dynamic, complex and processual analytic tools is treated by the authors of the next two chapters. Taking as his main point of departure the traditional differentiation of archaeological xxxv

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cultures as co-existing bounded entities with territories which can be clearly delineated on maps, Joseph Maran demonstrates that such a substantialist/essentialist concept of culture is rather an epistemological construction than a historical/archaeological reality. The alleged homogeneity, uniformity and stability of such ‘cultures’ turns out to be a cut and dried conceptual jacket that blends out the transformative power of the agency and the heterogeneity which is inherent in any given society as well as the entanglements between them. According to Maran, the traditional concept of ‘cultures’ in the plural should be replaced by ‘culture’ in the singular, fostering a dynamic approach that focuses on the contingency, openness and ‘performative’ aspects of societies. The latter should be perceived as the means through which people shape and create what they regard as their lifeworld. In the same vein, Daniel G. König deconstructs the nation-centred notion that individuals and entire societies form part of immutable and impenetrable monolithic macro-historical cultural entities called ‘civilizations’, a term which considerably overlaps with that of ‘culture’, mostly referring to the field of technological achievements of the latter. The historian discusses the study of civilizations as a forerunner of or antithesis to transcultural studies and pleads for a supranational interpretation of world history, which highlights the transformation of large and complex spatio-temporal socio-cultural systems. That such simplistic models or monolithic conceptions of pure cultural entities have their origins in the nationalist and racist theories of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is insightfully demonstrated by historian Bernd Schneidmüller. As he explores medieval forms of migration as a vehicle for the transformation of the ‘Old World’, the author explicates the agency of the aforementioned counter-forces: The new order was based not on static concepts but on a dynamic development generated by ruptures and the willingness for change. Contrary to traditional historical narratives in the nineteenth century that proclaimed the ‘indigenous origins’ of European peoples, medieval ethnogenesis emerges in Schneidmüller’s view as a multidimensional result of cultural flexibility and hybridization in a turbulent period during which societies were constantly on the move. Madeleine Herren’s contribution broaches similar issues, yet in her case the historical setting is that of modern Europe. The global historian’s main question is whether transculturality can be discussed not only as a scholarly tool but also as a political rationale according to which social coherence could be based on diversity rather than a presuming cultural, linguistic and political authenticity. Pertaining to challenging qualities of transculturality from a historiographical perspective, one of which is the lack of a temporal dimension, Herren stresses that a transcultural lens emphasizes an ongoing and continuous disentanglement of the world in the twentieth century, which is in apparent contrast to the dense exchange mechanisms developed along with the global flow of information, commodities and money.

Part B: Transcultural spaces and agents The second section includes three chapters that underline the importance of considering transcultural spaces and agents. Pascal Firges and Tobias P. Graf discuss Pratt’s contact zone as an analytical tool for exploring border-crossing by a special emphasis on human agency and the significance of the subaltern. Looking at Istanbul as a transcultural hub, the authors understand a contact zone not as a geographically bounded area but as a dynamic social space which is constituted by interaction between human agents and is thus no less mobile than the latter. Their approach leads to a microanalysis, a continuous ‘zooming in’ which ends up at human beings as true constituents of the contact zone. One of the most virulent types of contact zones is the bazaar which, as Frank Grüner demonstrates in his chapter, enables us to study transculturality ‘in a nutshell’. As an urban microcosm providing an ideal arena for intense xxxvi


transcultural encounters, the bazaar evolves unavoidably as one of the main foci of social interaction in cosmopolitan cities. This thesis is carried further with the discussion of a striking example, that of the bazaar at the city of Harbin, which constituted a versatile multicultural social shape, cherishing joint activities between different groups that overcame linguistic and cultural differences. The decisive role of individuals as mediators in complex forms of transcultural entanglements is highlighted by Nikolas Jaspert in his study on cultural brokers in the Mediterranean region during the Medieval period. By focusing on a selection of remarkable individual careers of mercenaries living in societies in constant flux and without any clear-cut boundaries, the author distinguishes between ‘manifest brokers’, those who intentionally perform acts of mediation or brokerage, ‘latent brokers’, meaning individuals who did so unintentionally as a by-product of other activities, and ‘oppositional brokers’ not performing or facilitating transculturation involuntarily, but in fact contrary to their actual objective. It is mainly the latter category that clearly demonstrates the complexity of transcultural phenomena which seeks for an appropriate multipolar analytical approach.

Part C: Transcultural temporalities The crucial question whether transculturality can have a temporal dimension is taken up by Milinda Banerjee who explores the transcultural afterlives of concepts. What happens when texts and arguments are moved out of their historical contexts and revivified by other voices in other climes and times? To answer this, Banerjee argues against an excessively contextual approach introducing the term ‘transversal’ as a heuristic mode of analysing forms of conceptproduction and argumentation which cross various kinds of borders. In his view, authors, texts, concepts and arguments refuse to be walled in; they escape their historical contexts and affect later instants. These successions of ‘trans-’ movements, cross not only ‘cultures’, but also formations of power, temporalities and spaces and scales of thinking. They push us towards considering a transversal history as a supplement to a ‘transcultural (intellectual) history’ with ‘transversal (intellectual) history’. An impressive example for such a transcultural afterlife of concepts is presented by Jan Scholz who is examining the revival of Greco-Roman rhetoric in twentieth century Egypt as fostered by the foundation of the new academic department for Islamic preaching and guidance. As Scholz shows, the Greek tradition of rhetoric was initially received by the Arabs in an exclusively literal sense as a part of logic. It was only in the twentieth century that rhetoric gained new attention and was increasingly being focused upon from a performative perspective, thus – Scholz argues – in its ‘original’ meaning, which encompassed the vocal and bodily performative dimension. Transcultural temporalities are also at the heart of Hans Harder’s chapter. By employing a reflexive/reciprocal approach, he explores how literary genres in South Asia were not bound to their cultural context but had the ability to transgress linguistic and cultural boundaries. Harder defines these instances of a genre’s transition as the ‘transcultural moments’, a notion which helps us to comprehend transculturality as a process. The author argues for a scaling down of our analytical focus to a microlevel of observation, at which it is possible to thoroughly investigate all parameters of the transcultural momentum including the author, the readership and the respective literary environment.

Part D: Transcultural semantics Border-crossing processes unfold their transformative potential especially in cases of cultural translation and appropriation, which are treated in the six chapters of the fourth section. xxxvii

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Although the individual chapters treat different subjects and draw on quite different materials, they address comparable issues revolving around the transcultural function of translation, a function that aims at negotiating difference, yet demands porosity. This section opens with Antje Flüchter’s discussion of key issues that have emerged from the cultural turn in translation studies. She explores their applicability to the field of transcultural studies. The historian focuses on the work of early modern Jesuit missionaries in India as it is reflected in a large corpus of reports, letters and historiographical studies. Special attention is given to the issue of marriage as a social institution and Catholic sacrament. Flüchter’s lucid analysis of the Jesuit translation strategies extricates the significance of adequate textual and conceptual grids for translating the other to a European audience, and vice versa for translating Christianity in the missionary context. She further considers domestication and foreignization as two options of the translation process, highlighting the latter as the main force for the creation of transcultural forms. Roberta Tontini’s elaborations on Sharia norms in China provide an equally evocative study of the same topic, now in an Islamic context. The sinologist introduces her analysis with an enlightening discussion on the notion that cultural translation shares with transculturality the semantic association of culture and transfer as concurrent functions in the process of translating meanings across different contexts. The processes whereby exogenous features are invested with endogenous meaning and experience a radical semantic reinterpretation can be observed in the work of Muslim scholars in China who used Confucianism to explain the message of the Qur’an. Tontini concludes that the cultural translation of the Islamic law in the Chinese context was essential for its – largely unobserved – survival until our days. A similar form of syncretism is treated by Japanese historian Anna Andreeva who explores the mytho-histories of premodern Japanese shrines as sites of religious translation, material circulation and appropriation, but also as politicosocial transit zones. The adoption of Buddhist combinations of deities, rituals and practices in the religious life of these localities and the subtle reconfiguration of Buddhism to suit Japan’s religious concepts was generated, as the author convincingly argues, by exclusively local needs. Oscillating between transregional resemblance and (regional) difference, these processes shaped a distinctive form of a multi-scalar sacred economy which cannot be adequately described by the generic terms of ‘amalgamation’ or ‘merging’ and seeks for the implementation of more complex analytical tools. Art historian Michael Falser takes up the question of how power relations structured the translation process, affecting not only the translation products but also the original. He explores the commodification of small-scale artefacts from the ‘Orient’ to the ‘Occident’ in the nineteenth century and the translation of monumental architectures like Angkor Wat used as a powerful means by which to visualize the European image of ‘the East’. In this case, a European hegemonic ‘translation privilege’ stereotyped the Asian sources as ‘primitive’, ‘exotic’ or the ‘other’. As in Antje Flüchter’s previous analysis, it becomes evident that the translation process impacted not only on the translated but also on the translator and the target audience. The appropriation of ‘exotic things’ into a new cultural context can be regarded as a form of materialized cultural translation. Philipp W. Stockhammer examines the complex relationship between human and foreign things by focusing on their effectancy which he defines as a nonintentional counter-force to human agency. The prehistoric archaeologist considers how this effect of objects upon humans is enhanced in the context of several changeabilities which are constituted through perception, time and practice and are entangled with each other. The increasingly important role of indigenous knowledge in the era of globalization can be regarded as a mainly transcultural phenomenon, as philosopher and historian of science Dhruv Raina implies in his analysis. In his view, the recognition of the limits of science for providing solutions to societal and global problems in the recent past contributed to an awakening of interest in local knowledge systems as a counter-reaction to the epistemological violence of modernization. In xxxviii


the course of this development, indigenous knowledge can be regarded as complementary to modern science and as a precondition for sustainable development.

Part E: The transcultural lens Revisiting phenomena and processes through a transcultural lens allows us to open new hermeneutical possibilities that contextualize traditional monolithic approaches elucidating their complexity and hidden relationalities. This becomes evident in the eight chapters of the final section which opens with art historian Monica Juneja who seeks to explain how transculturality can change our view on art history. Starting with the problematic entanglement of art, nations and cultures, and the emancipation of both culture and art from the monolithic concept of territorially bounded and ethnically monolingual entities, the author strives to formulate the agenda for a transcultural art history which can do justice to phenomena of ‘intense proximity’ in the modern borderless and shared art world. She attempts first a transcultural view on modernism in the early twentieth century, revealing various entanglements and a ‘coevalness’ between Western-trained artists and the ‘primitive’. Her analysis underlines the significance of the latter as a main incentive for artistic creativity in and from India. Juneja furthermore raises the question how transcultural thinking can not only explain but also inspire contemporary art contributing to its critical reorientation. How insightful this novel perspective might be is vividly demonstrated by Cathrine Bublatzky’s chapter on the travelling exhibition Indian Highway. The anthropologist begins with the crucial question why art should be culturally representative and thus geographically bounded and disposes successfully of strategies of ‘geo-aesthetic mapping’ that pigeonhole local art, in this case ‘Indian art’, according to geographical borders of stereotypical nature in the process of their circulation, stereotypes that are largely enforced by notions of ‘Western’ art value and authenticity. Bublatzky delineates that in a highly mobile and multi-directional field such as the international art world, a transcultural and relational approach becomes a tool to tackle non-Western art beyond the ‘burden of representation’ (Mercer 1990). Studying the first women’s magazines which came into being at the beginning of modern Chinese history, at the end of the nineteenth century, Barbara Mittler explores the hermeneutic potential of transcultural studies for addressing the issues of gender and the media in a manner most adequate to the intrinsic border-crossing character of both. The sinologist argues for a dynamic approach which avoids traditional binaries and borders by focusing on dynamic transversals and creative integrations and by adopting different (‘trans’-)angles. Extrapolating the methodological assets of a transcultural approach, she suggests a multi-disciplinary reading practice, a multi-perspectival ‘reading-in-conjunction’, which proves the only adequate method for fully deploying the explanatory potential of complex issues such as media and gender. The merits of a transcultural approach become apparent in the analysis of citizenship and its dynamic nature both as an idea and in practice, as it is discussed by political scientists Subrata Mitra, Jivanta Schöttli and Markus Pauli. Despite the fact that the concept of citizenship has been traditionally conceived as watertight and fixed, the authors demonstrate the assets of a transcultural understanding of citizenship by incorporating differentiation and variation. Only through a transcultural lens can it be possible to capture the shifting parameters and institutions through which citizenship is mediated across time and space. Using modern India as their historical setting, they further demonstrate that the growth of modern cities had surprisingly no effects on the issue of citizenship. Hans Martin Krämer, scholar of Japanese studies, raises the question how the transcultural turn can contest traditional wisdom on religion as a concept which was mainly shaped in nineteenth-century Europe. The author argues that, contrary to grand theories highlighting the significance of Europe and xxxix

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implying that a Europe-centric concept of was imposed upon the rest of the world, ‘religion’ became global as a result of complex entanglements between Europe and other cultures, thus owing much to non-European historical actors. Looking beyond comparison and connections and exploring global conjunctures in political, social and cultural spheres, Krämer examines patterns of responses by religious groups including reforms based on foreign and novel ideas, conservative reassessions of main tenets, or finally the creation of new religions. The contribution by Max Stille engages with a highly complicated as well as controversial subject: the study of emotions. Since emotions are culturally bound, transculturality can provide a decisive tool for their study, especially in the cases in which emotions are integrated in the multitude of media and art forms that affect them. As in the previous chapter by Krämer, Stille points out that a transculturally framed study of emotional transitions means to avoid the comparative method by stressing the multiplicity of layers and sources. One should instead expand the cultural frame of emotional studies by exploring the complex trajectories of emotions as they are steered across communities, spaces and genres and illuminate their relationalities. The applicability of the transcultural method beyond the realm of human interaction is explored by anthropologist Daniel Münster who argues that this can include encounters f people with plants, animals and microbes. Starting from the role of transcultural studies in destabilizing many of the epistemological binaries and purities that underlie persistent constructions of race, culture, civilization, religion, language and nation, the anthropologist adopts a socioecological approach to food and agriculture which negates the traditional separation of nature and culture as two different epistemic domains, highlighting in contrast the affective aspects of natural farming and thus the significance of non-human agents. In the volume’s final chapter, Armin Volkmann deals with the question of how transculturality as a new research focus versus a theoretical model may have an impact on current methods and analytic techniques. In the view of the archaeologist, the transcultural character of the modern global society and science is a huge challenge for digital humanities and forces them to develop new tools and methods. The epistemological problems arising in the Semantic Web seek for new representations of knowledge with artificial intelligence, which can be founded not on traditional taxonomies but on complex ontologies presenting a network of information with logical relationships as concept maps.

Limits and prospects Transculturality has been criticized for blurring research lenses and terminologies rather than sharpening differentiation.8 Indeed, the aim of any transcultural approach must be to concretize the methodological perspective in order to render visible and very palpable the dynamics of cultural entanglement. Transculturality forms a transdisciplinary understanding that could underlie any (at least) humanities or social-sciences approach. To uncover even segments of the rhizome will call for multidisciplinary and often multilingual expertise. At the same time, it is our persuasion that concrete (and sound) transcultural methodology can only be developed by adaption within disciplinary frameworks. A transcultural approach will likely produce its own blind spots. For instance, the emphasis on entanglement has been said to favour the micro over the macro, or disregard the potential of cross-cultural comparison (e.g. Duindam 2018). One cannot deny that ‘practising transculturality’ has its limits that start, for instance, in the enormous demands of complex data with respect to time investment. ‘The focus on multiplying boundaries opens a history of misunderstandings, of wrong translations and insecurities. Often enough, mimicry and heterotopic communication do not serve as the outcast’s safe haven, but can be found in the centre of power, in the allegedly universal rules that stop being universal when migrants are concerned’, write Herren, Rüesch and Sibille in their book section entitled xl


‘The Transcultural Grave’ (2012: 66). Another criticism is transculturality’s alleged affinity to be less explicit about agonistic, conflict-ridden tensions and polarizing potential, so often outlined in, for instance, post-colonial theory’s emphasis on structural violence in scientific language, power-inequalities and exclusivist politics (see Kravagna 2017: 11). However, while certainly not wanting to pull our disciplines’ political and critical teeth, we rather think that they can be re-sharpened. Thus, we support the timely contribution on transdisciplinary research by Béatrice Hendrich, Sandra Kurfürst and Anna Malis (2017). The editors of this volume argue that instead of looking for weaknesses and adding another ‘spicy yet empty’ term to a ‘red list’ or problematic academic ‘canons’, one should recognize the strength of underlining disciplinary perspectives’ need to push open in order to further profile research questions and matters. Transculturality, thus, stands for a conscious shift in perspective on, and access to, one’s research field, which consequently also leads to a change thereof. While there may be some truth to the criticisms, the challenges thus addressed can – in our understanding – only be accommodated by a plurality of perspectives. More than anything, transcultural research calls for epistemological openness, the willingness to critique, and the readiness to question even well-established knowledge. The present volume does not claim to contain the definite answer to what transculturality is. Instead, we offer reflections based on profound research practice. Rather than a closed and contained single method that would be applicable to all fields, our authors present approaches tried and tested in a wide range of research fields and our interdisciplinary analytic practice. Most of all, we would like to invite our readers to take seriously this book’s title – to engage transculturality.

Notes 1. In this context, reference should also be made to two online journals, namely Transcultural Studies (HeiUP, Heidelberg) and Transcultural Studies: A Journal of Interdisciplinary Research (Brill, Leiden). 2. In their structure, processes can still be seen as stable, or even static. 3. For a nuanced discussion of the paradigm-concept in its application to the humanities, see HoyningesHuene (2010). 4. Online. Available: https://aeon.co/essays/is-global-history-still-possible-or-has-it-had-its-moment (accessed 19 April 2016). 5. The above-noted sketches focusing on cultural anthropology and history do not claim comprehensiveness either within these disciplines or the general scope of the transcultural turn that (potentially) encompasses the humanities and social sciences. For instance, Wolfgang Welsch’s Transkulturalität has been taken up in very productive ways in literary and cultural studies. The debates at the Heidelberg Cluster of Excellence were, however, chiefly advanced by the productive tension between approaches which can be broadly classified as either historical or anthropological. 6. The passage continues: ‘For me, the key aspect of this division can be characterized formulaically: the literary humanities as a whole were arealized and de-disciplined, whereas the social sciences were dearealized and re-disciplined’ (Pollock 2016: 915). 7. They are thus not to be identified with Arjun Appadurai’s notion of scapes or flows (1995). 8. Interestingly, another term has not faced such strong criticism: ‘transnationalism’, coined in the 1990s, was recognized as a phenomenon of transnational migration and globalization, attributed with ‘flexibility’ (Ong 1997) and an alleged weakening of nation-states (Appadurai 1997); see Pries (2013).

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Osterhammel, J. (2014 [2009]) The Transformation of the World. A Global History of the Nineteenth Century, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Pollock, S. (2016) ‘Areas, disciplines, and the goals of inquiry’, The Journal of Asian Studies, 75(4): 913–28. Pratt, M. L. (1992) Imperial Eyes. Travel Writing and Transculturation, London: Routledge. Pries, L. (2013) ‘Ambiguities of global and transnational collective identities’, Global Networks, 13(1): 22–40. Roy, A. (2011) ‘Slumdog cities. Rethinking subaltern urbanism’, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 35: 223–38. Saal, B. (2014) ‘Kultur in Bewegung. Zur Begrifflichkeit von Transkulturalität’, in M. Mae and B. Saal (eds) Transkulturelle Genderforschung: Ein Studienbuch zum Verhältnis von Kultur und Geschlecht, Wiesbaden: Springer, 21–47. Schachtner, C. (2015) ‘Transculturality in the internet: culture flows and virtual publics’, Current Sociology, 63(2): 228–43. Schlehe, J. (2005) ‘Transkulturalität in der Ethnologie: neue Forschungsbeziehung’, Projekt Zeichen der Herrschaft, Altertumswissenschaftliches Kolleg Heidelberg, 2005. Online. www.uni-heidelberg.de/md/ zaw/akh/akh_texte/04schlehe240605.pdf (accessed 30 January 2018). Sheller, M. (2017) ‘From spatial turn to mobilities turn’, Current Sociology, 65(4): 623–39. Sheller, M. and Urry, J. (2006) ‘The new mobilities paradigm’, Environment and Planning, 38(2): 207–26. Online. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1068/a37268 (accessed 19 April 2016). Specht, T. (2011) Transkultureller Humor in der türkisch-deutschen Literatur, Studien zur deutsch-türkischen Literatur und Kultur, 3, Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann. Stehling, M. (2015) Die Aneignung von Fernsehformaten im transkulturellen Vergleich. Eine Studie am Beispiel des Topmodel-Formats, Wiesbaden: Springer. Strathern, M. (1995) The Relation. Issues in Complexity and Scale, Cambridge: Prickly Pear Press. Takeda, A. (2012) Wir sind wie Baumstämme im Schnee: Ein Plädoyer für transkulturelle Erziehung, Münster, New York, Munich and Berlin: Waxmann. Todorov, T. (1985) Die Eroberung Amerikas. Das Problem des Anderen, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Tsing, A. L. (2005) Friction. An Ethnography of Global Connection, Princeton, NJ and Oxford: Princeton University Press. van Schendel, W. (2002) ‘Geographies of knowing, geographies of ignorance: jumping scale in Southeast Asia’, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 20: 647–68. Viehbeck, M. (ed.) (2017) Transcultural Encounters in the Himalayan Borderlands. Kalimpong as ‘Contact Zone’. Heidelberg: Heidelberg University Publishing. Weigel, S., Gaines, J. and Wallach, R. (1995) ‘Aby Warburg’s Schlangenritual: Reading culture and reading written texts’, New German Critique, 65: 135–53. Welsch, W. (1992) ‘Transkulturalität – Lebensformen nach der Auflösung der Kulturen’, Information Philosophie, 2: 5–20. ——. (1996) ‘Transculturality – the form of cultures today’, in K. Bethanien (ed) Le Shuttle: Tunnelrealitäten Paris-London-Berlin, Berlin: Künstlerhaus Bethanien, 15–30. ——. (1999) ‘Transculturality – the puzzling form of cultures today’, in M. Featherstone and S. Lash (eds) Spaces of Culture: City, Nation, World, London: Sage, 194–213. ——. (2000) ‘Transkulturalität. Zwischen Globalisierung und Partikularisierung’, in A. Cesana and D. Eggers (eds) Jahrbuch Deutsch als Fremdsprache 26, München: iudicium, 330. Wohlfart, E. and Zaumseil, M. (2006) Transkulturelle Psychiatrie – Interkulturelle Psychotherapie. Interdisziplinäre Theorie und Praxis, Heidelberg: Springer. Yu, T. (2013) ‘Southeast Asia’s new nationalism. Causes and significance’, TRaNS: Trans-Regional and National Studies of Southeast Asia, 1(2): 259–79.


Part A

Delineating transculturality

Taylor & Francis Taylor & Francis Group http:/taylorandfrancis.com

1 Cultural hybridity and transculturality1 Axel Michaels

‘Hybridity’ In times of globalization, almost everything seems to have become ‘hybrid’. There are hybrid music and dance styles (Indo-jazz, salsa); there is fusion food; there is Bollywood; there are hybrid vehicles that use two or more distinct power sources; there are hybrid computers combining analogue and digital features. Hybridity, it seems, has become the normal status quo, and contributes to a positive connotation of many objects, practices and phenomena. This is important to highlight since originally, the term ‘hybridity’, stemming from Latin, meant the off-spring of a tame sow and a wild boar, hence a half-breed or bastard. As a result, for long there have been mostly negative undertones: hybrid meant something barren, bastard, inauthentic, less fine and thus degraded or hotchpotch. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Europe, the term came to be prominently used in natural sciences in the sense of fusion (nuclear physics), amalgamation (chemistry) or crossbreeding (biology). It was taken over in the humanities and social sciences, especially in anthropology, sociology, history and literary studies. Its normative association with ‘less pure’ and thus ‘less valid’, even ‘threatening’, continued in this realm, especially in a teleological lineage of ‘civilized’ versus ‘primitive’, ‘advanced’ versus ‘backward’ (see König, in this volume). According to Robert Young (1995), hybridity became the key term in racialized discourses of nineteenth-century evolutionism. Today, it has become a common term that is used differently according to disciplines. For instance, in history, the process of Hellenization with the transcultural processes of Romans and Greeks, the Islamic Spain, the Ottoman Empire, the Byzantine, Jewish and Muslim contributions to Renaissance; in literary studies, one may associate hybridity with new genres such as the Japanese manga comic or the Arab novel; in linguistics, mixed languages such as Pidgin English, Cappadocian Greek (comprising mostly Greek root words, but with many Turkish grammatical endings and Turkish vowel harmony – and without gender) or Wutunhua (a mixture of Chinese and Tibetan language); and in religious studies, hybridity allows for analysis of syncretism, patch-work religions or New Age. As a consequence, the literature on these topics is vast and seemingly open-ended.2 In cultural studies, hybridity developed into a key term associated with ‘one of the most widely employed and disputed terms in postcolonial theory’ (Ashcroft et al. 1998: 118; 3

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cf. Kraidy 2002). In this context, it was mostly employed as a trope to analyse a ‘by-product of the transcultural dynamics between tradition and modernity sometimes conceptualized as the local and the global’ (Kraidy 2002). Homi Bhabha, for instance, in his seminal book The Location of Culture (1994), discusses hybridity as a form of colonial anxiety on the one hand, and resilience of the subaltern or colonized against colonial influence, domination and power of the colonizers, on the other hand. He thus understands hybridity as a political term allowing for ambivalence, mimicry, camouflage (1994: 193) or heresy (1994: 226) in hybridizing expressions in processes of a postcolonial modernity, creating new hybrid identities and thus new ways of difference. For Bhabha, hybridity is linked to a ‘process of translating and transvaluing cultural differences’ (1994: 252). Hybridity was therefore mostly limited to phenomena in the context of cultural colonization and globalization (cf. Hutnyk 2005). The debates in Anglo-American popular culture became the paradigm for such studies. Nevertheless, all these theories presuppose separate cultures as a starting point in their analysis of cultural ‘mixing’ or entanglement. This is challenged in a transcultural approach, where cultures are never just homogeneous spheres, linguistically or geographically marked off or delimited, even if so intended by the actors. With respect to cultural studies, several similar terms such as metissage, melange, pot-pourri, cross-over, transculturality, creolization, entanglement, histoire croisée, mestizaje ‘anything goes’ (Feyerabend 1975: 28) or ‘Third Space’ (Homi Bhabha) have made remarkable careers, allowing them to underline how and in what way cultures and languages are based on intrinsic ‘fusion’ and are to be considered, in this sense, as a priori hybrid. All these terms support the idea of a vast multiplicity, dynamics and fluidity in cultures which indeed are much more open and porous than it has been assumed by many nineteenth and twentieth century scholars. Moreover, they are working less in a normative, positivist way, but allow for a critical heuristic approach. Today we can therefore say that nothing is ‘pure’, and that attempts to call ‘something’ as such are manmade and thus intentional. Nations, cultures, languages, ethnic groups, objects and artifacts, images, concepts, practices (rituals) – all these are transculturally linked and entangled. There are particularly favourable localities/spaces where these entangled forms of cultural interactions and exchanges seem to appear and can be well observed: metropolitan cities, frontiers, market places (see Grüner, in this volume) or harbours. Moreover, there are particularly positioned persons who promote transculturality and cultural hybridity: cultural brokers or middlemen (see Jaspert, in this volume) such as diplomats, missionaries, travellers, seafarers, traders, interpreters, political asylum seekers or migrants. Such cultural brokers enforce the intercultural exchange and thus trigger transculturation and a number of transcultural processes such as accommodation, acculturation, adaptation, appropriation, assimilation, borrowing, circularity, exchange, glocalization, mimesis, migration, negotiation/bargaining, othering, reciprocity, robbery, supplementation (accretism), syncretism, transfer, translation, etc. This emphasis on cultural hybridity and especially transculturality is largely directed against ‘essentialism’, today’s most despised term in cultural studies. Essentialism has been used to propagate fundamental cultural characteristics of a particular nation, people or culture, implying that there are cultural realities beyond history, language and locality. Contrastingly, most scholars of cultural studies now reject essentialism as a form of determinism or absolutism with the potential of developing dangerous concepts – racism, fundamentalism and nationalism being three striking examples. Hence, in cultural studies, scholars increasingly prefer another approach, one that contextualizes, historizes and localizes cultural tropes within a neighbouring or global net of social interactions and cultural relations. Rightly so, they reject entities that claim absolute validity or even superiority. 4

Cultural hybridity and transculturality

This also has a political aspect as Kraidy argues, pointing out the procedural and transcultural implications of the term hybridity, which needs to be understood as a communicative practice constitutive of, and constituted by, sociopolitical and economic arrangements. Understanding hybridity as a practice marks the recognition that transcultural relations are complex, processual, and dynamic. In addition to failing to grasp the ontological complexity of cultural interactions, a merely descriptive use of hybridity also poses the risk of undermining the political potential that hybridity might or might not have. (Kraidy 2002: 317) Another argument against essentialism is that all ideas and concepts are based on a language that originates from, and is shaped in, communication with other languages. There is no pure language, and therefore there is no single concept of institutions such as marriage, family, people or nation, not to speak of death or god. This points to a cultural variability at the beginning of any religious, social or political idea. Nevertheless, reductions on history, myths, rituals, heroes of art and culture or cultural heritage are sometimes necessary factors of identification in a given society since only the cultural phenomena can be contextualized, historized and localized in a web of social interactions and (trans)cultural relations. These reductions make for cultural memory (Assmann and Hölscher 1988; A. Assmann 1993; J. Assmann 1997), out of which history as a joint point of reference emerges. However, any claim of cultural absoluteness or even superiority must fail due to the fact of cultural contingency. In the next part of this chapter, I illustrate, using a recent example from ancient India that concerns the concept and origin of certain ideas in the late Vedic period (roughly 850–400 BCE) and early Buddhism, how misleading such an approach, but also how problematic the notion of hybridity, can be, because it might suggest cultural units that ‘in reality’ are much more transcultural than assumed.

How ‘Buddhism’ began – its career as a term Buddhism as a religion is a broad concept that was construed only in the early nineteenth century, even though the term ‘Buddhism’ appeared sporadically before the end of the eighteenth century. Engelbert Kaempfer, for instance, writing between 1692 and 1705 (in German), in a 1727 English translation, has a chapter in his Japan travelogue, Das Heutige Japan (Today’s Japan), with a subsection, ‘Of the Budsdo, or Foreign Pagan Worship, and its Founder’: [. . .] for several hundred years the Religion of Siaka made a very slow and insignificant progress, till about the year of Christ 518, one Darma, a great Saint, and thirty third successor of the holy See of Siaka, came over into China from Tenjiku [= India, in seventeenth century Sino-Japanese] [. . .] and laid properly speaking the first sure foundations of the Boudsoism in that mighty empire. (Kaempfer 1727: 248) This ‘Butsudo¯’ is Japanese for ‘the way of Buddha(s)’ and can figure as the translation for Buddhism even today. By ‘the founder’, Kaempfer, refers to ‘Siaka’ [= Shakyamuni] and provides his alleged biography. According to David Mervart, Kaempfer must here be drawing on pre-existing Jesuit knowledge, and states that the first Jesuit reports, which appeared slightly earlier than Kaempfer’s book, ‘have possibly some generic reference to the superstitious doctrines 5

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of (what today would be) Buddhism, and it is possible some cognate of the term itself appears there’ (personal communication, 20 July 2013). In the Oxford English Dictionary, the term ‘Buddhism’ (spelled ‘Boudhism’) appears only in 1801. Until then, Europe did not recognize Buddhism as a ‘world religion’, only Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Paganism.3 A unified Buddhist identity across all Therava¯da, Maha¯ya¯na, Vajraya¯na, Zen and other ‘denominations’ and Buddhist countries, only emerged in the nineteenth century. The model for this construction of other religions was, of course, Christianity, with a historical founder of a religion in the centre. The case I present here is related to such essentialist constructions. In 2007, the Indologist Johannes Bronkhorst published his challenging monograph, Greater Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India (2007). Despite criticism,4 this book has stimulated an ongoing debate on the origin of religions in India, especially Buddhism and Jainism. Bronkhorst addresses major puzzles and conundrums in the history of ancient India, e.g.: How did Buddhism and Jainism begin? Was it a reaction to late Vedic, i.e. ancient Indian ritualism? Where do the ‘typical Indian’ ideas of karma, rebirth and liberation come from? After all, these ideas are absent in the early Vedic texts. Or were they a new, independent development that later influenced and merged with Brahmanical Vedism, in a way the predecessor of Hinduism? In short, did Buddhism or Jainism with their strong focus on ethical karma theories originate within or outside Vedic Brahmanical tradition? The standard answer to these problems, repeatedly found in histories of Indian religions, is the following: The dominant Brahmanic–Vedic religion was rejected by several spiritual leaders. Among them, the Buddha and Maha¯vı¯ra figured most prominently. One example must suffice: ‘The central teachings of the Buddha came as a response to the central teachings of the old Upanisads, notably the Br hada¯ranyaka’ (Gombrich 1996: 31; cf. 1988: 65–72). Bronkhorst ˙ ˙ ˙ believes that this view is incorrect and instead proposes that Buddhism and Jainism originated in a non-Vedic culture that he calls ‘Greater Magadha’. It is an area in north-east India covering Magadha and its surrounding lands: roughly the geographical area in which the Buddha and Maha¯vı¯ra lived and taught. With regard to the Buddha, this area stretched by and large from S´ ra¯vastı¯, the capital of Kosala, in the north-west to Ra¯jagr ha, the capital of Magadha, in the ˙ south-east (2007: 4). Bronkhorst proposes that this culture ‘existed prior to the appearance of Jainism, Buddhism ¯ jı¯vikism. He also claims that this culture and other currents’ (Bronkhorst 2007: 53) such as A ‘remained recognizably distinct from Vedic culture until the time of the grammarian Patañjali (ca. 150 BCE) and beyond’ (2007: 265). His basic evidence is the following: 1


3 4


¯ ryas’, or the heartland of Vedic culture The early definition of a¯ryava¯rta, ‘the land of the A and religion in the Maha¯bha¯sya of the grammarian Patañjali (ca. 150 BCE) as opposed to ˙ the land east of the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers which was considered ‘foreign territory’ (2007: 2) by the Vedic Brahmins; a ‘fundamental spiritual ideology’, i.e. the belief in rebirth and karmic retribution that Bronkhorst calls ‘by far the most important’ (2007: 75) feature of the new culture and that cannot be found in early Vedic sources; the archaeological (and textual) evidence of sepulchral mounds as a sign of a distinct funerary practice later adopted by the Buddhists and, to a lesser extent, Jainas; the distinct ‘empirico-rational’5 structure of A¯ yurveda as opposed to the largely magicoreligious Vedic healing systems using sorcery, spells and amulets; other features such as Kapila as an asura (demon) or the cyclic time.

Cultural hybridity and transculturality

This theory creates methodological problems because we only have sources from a nonMagadha context; there are no textual documents in Magadhı¯, the language which might have been spoken by the Buddha. Moreover, the question of absolute and relative timeframes of late Vedic and early Buddhist texts widely remains open. However, Bronkhorst repeatedly insists on his thesis that there existed, during the late-Vedic period, (at least) two segments of society, or rather, two societies, which independently preserved radically different traditions and approaches to reality. What is more, we are in a position to identify these two societies: they are (the descendants of ) Vedic society and the society of Greater Magadha, respectively. (Bronkhorst 2007: 60) Interestingly, Bronkhorst uses the term ‘Vedic society’ only in his introduction where he identifies it with Vedic culture; due to the lack of sources, almost nothing is known about the social and religious structure of Greater Magadha, its inhabitants, its pantheon (with the exception of Kapila, no further names of deities are given), and little is known about their language, administration, social stratification or economy. There is little to say against Bronkhorst’s identification of ‘culture’ with ‘society’, given the 150 or so definitions of ‘culture’ that Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhorn (1952) had already collected. What matters more is Bronkhorst’s attempt to construct opposed monolithic cultural blocks that are separated by ‘the enormous divide that existed between Vedic culture and the culture of Greater Magadha’ (2007: 269), i.e. ‘two altogether different cultures that existed next to each other without profoundly influencing each other (initially)’ (2007: 266). Following this approach, cultures are defined by clear boundaries manifested through territory, language and predominantly (religious) ideas and not as entangled cultures. Consequently, Bronkhorst discovers more differences than mutual influences. Looking for origins and authenticity, he sees a ‘cultural division of northern India’ (2007: 85). In other words, he constructs cultures as geographically bounded, internally cohesive and linguistically homogeneous spheres. Seyla Benhabib (2002: 4) would probably call such a problematic procedure and methodology the ‘reductionist sociology of culture’. I agree that this approach cannot appropriately handle the intrinsic complexity, hybridity and diversity of human groups and their exchanges. It presupposes cultures as consistent entities, which are congruent with an ethnic group or nation and thus can be separated from each other. It confines cultures as such self-contained units of inquiry, and interactions between them as secondary or epiphenomenal. It is based on defining (and reifying) cultures – and disciplines – in accordance with the nation model of the nineteenth century. Bronkhorst thus falls short in his conclusions based on contrasting Vedic religion to and differentiating it from Buddhism and Jainism in this early period. During precisely the period in question, Buddhism had not yet attained a status and acceptance as a separate reified ‘religion’. And as mentioned earlier, it also did not regard itself as a ‘religion’. In Vedic times, Buddhism and Jainism were two of many religious currents that neither showed nor uttered clear separate identities – except for their emphasis on salvational goals. Even in a S´ aiva ritual text from the second half of the eleventh century, the Somas´ambhu¯paddhati, a ‘Buddhist identity’ cannot be found. This text includes a conversion ritual 7

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(lin˙ goddha¯ra) by which one becomes a follower of Shiva and attains salvation. In this ritual, it is essential to obliterate the traits (lin˙ ga) acquired through previous karma at birth from followers of non-Shaivaite religious traditions or schools, by wiping out all merit accu-mulated in past births through consecration (dı¯ksa¯). The list of non-Shaiva religious traditions includes ˙ Buddhists, Jains, followers of the Vedas, worshippers of Bhagava¯n or Visnu, S´ a¯ktas, astrologers ˙ ˙ other philosophical ( Jyotisa), Pa¯s´upatas, materialists (Ca¯rva¯ka), Veda¯ntins and followers of ˙ of thought (Brunner-Lachaux 1977: 553). As Heinrich von Stietencron (1995: 66) and schools Jörg Gengnagel (2010) have convincingly pointed out, this list is remarkable in three respects: (a) Buddhism and Jainism are not treated differently from other schools of thought, i.e. they have not yet become separate religions; (b) S´ aivism, Vaisnavism and other so-called ‘Hindu’ groups do not appear together as one Hindu community; (c) religious and philosophical schools of thought are not separated. There are only several paths that lead to salvation; 1,500 years earlier, when Buddhism began, the situation seems to have been similar. If we were to apply a transcultural approach, the situation in ancient India (ca. 500 to ca. 150 BCE) would look remarkably different from Bronkhorst’s ‘double culture’. •

• •

• •


It would point out the connectivity and connectedness between these currents (not religions), for instance with regard to Buddhist Brahmins or ‘Vedic Buddhists’. To be sure, the Vinaya gives only five references to Brahmins who received land grants from the kings of Kosala and Magadha and only seven Brahmanic settlements in the same regions, but the majority of the early Buddhist monks were Brahmins (Gokhale 1980; Gombrich 1988: 55f.). It would mention many mutual flows (which Bronkhorst too attests), for instance with regard to the circulatory practices and rituals (Falk 1988; Meisig 1992) which until today have much in common with Hindu rituals (cf. Gellner 1992; Gutschow and Michaels 2005, 2008, 2012). It would regard karma as a transgressing concept (cf. Gombrich 1996: ch. 2), which is not confined to ascetics.6 It would stress the many wandering ascetics (s´ramana, parivra¯jaka, bhiksu, jat ila, samnya¯sin ˙ ˙ ˙ ˙ etc.) of various denominations, who often act as cultural brokers. Many of them (though none from the early Brahmanical tradition) have been mentioned in early Buddhist texts, e.g. the ‘six teachers of other schools’ or the 10 renouncers. All these wandering ascetics share the practice of austerities and the cultivation of meditative or spiritual techniques aimed at liberation (Gethin 1998: 10). The Buddha, as one of them, wandered not only in Greater Magadha but also in the northern and north-western area of Kosala, Ka¯s´i or Vajji (Witzel 2009: 289). It would point to the linguistic overlapping (see von Hinüber 2001). After all, the Vedic people and the people of Greater Magadha had common language roots. They both spoke Indo-Aryan languages, but ‘the Buddha is well aware of Late Vedic speech, which he calls chandas’ (Witzel 2009: 294). In general, Witzel’s statement is valid when he argues that, there are numerous features in late Vedic and the MIA of the early Buddhist texts that overlap language boundaries, as both forms of IndoAryan were used by people that were actually interacting with each other on a daily basis (2009: 295). It would try to examine processes rather than look for origins. In sum, the results of this limited investigation, which intentionally excluded the development of thought, uphold the ‘traditional’ view of several consecutive linguistic, textual and historical layers from Vedic to the earliest Buddhist texts (2009: 310).

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If one looks, in this way, for contact zones or cultural brokers,7 overlapping and dynamic processes of entanglement, many borders and differences fade away and one comes from cultural difference to cultural fusion (Kraidy 2005: 151). Even Bronkhorst concedes that [m]any of the features of this (Magadha) culture did not disappear with the confrontation with Vedic culture. They survived, sometimes in modified form, sometimes, it seems, without even undergoing dramatic alteration. The most important of these features, i.e. the belief in rebirth and karmic retribution, survived the confrontation very well, as far as we can tell. (2007: 72) And Bronkhorst also gives an example of transculturality by pointing out that both Buddhists and Jainas claim the early kings of Magadha – S´ renika, Bimbisa¯ra and Aja¯tas´atru – as their own. ˙

From hybridity to transculturality What does all this mean for a better understanding of the concepts of cultural hybridity and transculturality? Primarily, that hybridity in cultures is not the exception but the norm. ‘Instead of hybridity versus plurality, [. . .] it is hybridity all the way down’ (Rosaldo 1995: xv). Cultures interact through a constant exchange of people, ideas, concepts, practices, objects, images, etc., because of which cultures are per definitionem mixed. In fact, many scholars came to conclusions that resulted in fuzzy truisms such as this: ‘all cultures are involved in one another [. . .] none is single and pure, all are hybrid, heterogeneous’ (Said, cited in Burke 2009: 51), or, ‘precisely because of its elasticity and open nature, the hybrid model can be appropriated by anyone to mean practically anything’ (Gómez-Peña 1996: 12). Indeed, the entangled cultural processes are so numerous that one can justifiably say that ‘all cultures are involved in one another [. . .] none is single and pure, all are hybrid, heterogeneous’. However, we may also want to state that if hybridity is ultimately all-pervasive, and if ‘all culture is always hybrid, [. . .], then hybridity is conceptually disposable’ (Kraidy 2002). A transcultural approach is different from seeing cultures as hybrid because the notion of transculturality neither presupposes pure cultures nor at least two or more homogeneous cultural units. Methodologically, this seems to lead to an aporia: in order to analyse what is transcultural, one has to separate the components, while denying their existence due to their transcultural contingency. The solution for this dilemma lies in the fact that in cultural studies, one mostly does not talk about boundaries in ‘reality’, but about conceptual strategies and discourses. One identifies cultural items only in contrast to other cultures. Cultures or cultural phenomena are therefore always in a relationship, and consequently, the boundaries are porous, open and fluid. Understanding cultures is therefore always historically and locally contingent besides originating in ‘the West’ and being ‘white’ due to ‘the disproportionate influence of the West as a cultural forum’ (Bhabha 1994: 21) and the asymmetry in educational institutions. How challenging an understanding of the transculturality of cultures is becomes evident when we consider the history of cultural encounters (see, among others, Bitterli 1976). It is a history of denying and repression or, in other words, continuous misunderstanding of transcultural implications. Michel de Montaigne (1533–1592) already facilitated a mediation between cultures when he argued in his essay On Cannibals (1580): 9

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I do not find that there is anything barbaric or savage about this nation, according to what I’ve been told, unless we are to call barbarism whatever differs from our own customs. Indeed, we seem to have no other standard of truth and reason than the opinions and customs of our own country. There at home is always the perfect religion, the perfect legal system – the perfect and most accomplished way of doing everything. These people are wild in the same sense that fruits are, produced by nature, alone, in her ordinary way. Indeed, in that land, it is we who refuse to alter our artificial ways and reject the common order that ought rather to be called wild, or savage.8 But only with the Enlightenment did it become possible to deviate from the evolutionary view on cultures and religions which has and still does dominate so many cultural theories. Thus, Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803) declared India the early childhood days of mankind, because he recognized in it his ideal of a unity of poetics, religion and philosophy. Enlightenment, however, realized parallels and entanglements in religions and cultures, and defined religion as a matter of the individual and not just of institutions (e.g. the Church). Reason became more important than authority. Enlightenment brought a religio naturalis, a ‘religion’ of reason, which underlies all religions and which endures all historical religions. Enlightenment also promoted the idea of the universality of cultures and a Universalgeschichte of cultures (cf. Häfner 1994). Only through this ‘discovery’ of a unity in cultural diversity could disciplines such as cultural studies emerge. An even more radical change came through Romanticism, especially through Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834). In his Über die Religion (On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers, 1799), religion became ‘essentially an intuition and a feeling’. This way, the doors were opened for other than Christian religions and cultures. Astonishment, the will for discovery of ‘the new’ and ‘the other’ became part of the quest for salvation, even in Schleiermacher’s secularized attempt to compare cultures. However, only the secularization of religion, i.e. the discovery of culture, made this possible. The interest in ‘other’ cultures and, implicitly, cultural mediation, became part of Western culture since a similar interest – as I will demonstrate below – cannot easily be found in all cultures alike. Transculturality itself cannot avoid intercultural misunderstandings, projections, otherings and contortions, but it gives us a methodological reflexivity that facilitates a multi-sited approach to our fields of inquiry. Such an approach is based on the principle of relationality. If one thus concentrates on relationships one can focus on processes that show how cultures work and what drives them. This implies that ‘[i]mportance of the two directions is a matter for empirical research’ (Burke 2009: 42). One has to look for precisely such entanglements since they do not, as in hybridity, always reveal themselves easily, nor do they point to a simple ‘mixture’. On the contrary, given the fragility and vulnerability of cultures which are time and again endangered by calamities and conflicts such as economic crises, military conflicts, natural disasters, revolutions, migrations, etc., humans often search for stabilizing strategies which are generally forms of reductionism that reject transcultural connectivities in favour of reification. One such strategy is exclusivism, another is inclusivism. The form of inclusivism is the strategy of cultural homogenization; its modern form is called globalization. This is frequently expressed, together with the fear that cultures can conquer or dominate other cultures: seventeenth and eighteenth century France in Europe in the past (French was then the erudite language); the USA in the present; the global in the future (Burke 2009: 113). It might be a beguiling perception but it indeed seems that cultural variety diminishes and that cultures increasingly converge. However, as Burke aptly remarks, ‘[t]oday’s hybrid forms are not necessarily a stage on the way towards a homogeneous global culture’ 10

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(2009: 115). As a kind of counter reaction towards cultural uniformity we observe processes of localization or glocalization, i.e. adaptation to localities partly as a reaction to the feared cultural uniformity (see Beck 1998; Baumann 2000). The other example refers again to India and another special form of transculturality: the Indian form of xenology or inclusivism, both characterized by a form of ignorance of other cultures and religions. It is indeed surprising that the ‘others’ who entered the Indian subcontinent – Muslims, British, missionaries – are seldom reflected in classical Indian literature. Rarely did Indians travel to Europe, even though there were early trade and religious ties with Southeast Asia. ‘Was die Literatur uns in dieser Hinsicht bietet, ist weitgehend eine Tradition des Schweigens und der Aussparung’ (What Indian literature has to offer us in this respect, is a tradition of silence and recess), says Indologist and philosopher Wilhelm Halbfass (1940–2000), and he adds that one’s own identity is not looked for in contradistinction to another.9 It is true that the construction of Hindus as one religious community mainly happened through external ‘influences’. ‘Hinduism’ is not an Indian term, but one that was coined by outsiders (see Bloch et al. 2010). The term ‘inclusivism’ was introduced into Indology by Paul Hacker (1913–1979) and triggered a lasting debate (for reference see Michaels 2004: 332); he defines it thus: Inclusivism means that one declares that a central idea of a foreign religious or ideological group is identical with one or another central idea of the group to which one belongs oneself. Usually inclusivism includes the explicit or implicit statement that the foreigner who is declared identical with one’s own, is subordinate or inferior in some way. Moreover, proof of that is that the stranger who is identical with one’s own is usually not taken in. (Hacker 1983: 12) Hacker has also said that inclusivism can be ‘a special identification with a special intention’, and thus, in short, cites the ‘Vedic practice of identification’ as an example (1983: 12). Albrecht Wezler pointed to the clear parallels between Vedic identifications and Hackerite inclusivism. He thus characterized the inclusive form of thought as ‘a non-marginal element of the continuity of the Vedic time in later India’ (Wezler 1983: 80), as I too draw a big arc from the sacrifice ritual identifications in Ancient India to an identificatory habitus that is still tangible in Indian thinking and behaviour (Michaels 2004: 5–11, 325–40). I regard it as a distinguishing feature of Vedic and Hindu religions, i.e. the capability to belong to two ‘different’ religions. One can, for instance, practise Hindu life-cycle rites (which themselves preserve a lot of non-Hindu folk– religious elements) and adhere spiritually to Buddhist meditative practices. Mohandas K. Gandhi described his own religion, ‘an idiosyncratic mixture of Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist and Christian’ (quoted from Burke 2009: 21).10 This ‘identificatory habitus’ (Michaels 2004) underlines how and why Hinduism – like a sponge – has absorbed (or ignored) so many ‘other’ religions including Islam and Christianity.

Conclusion Examining the results from Bronkhorst’s inspiring Greater Magadha, we have seen that transculturality is a term that seems more appropriate in differentiating and analysing cultural phenomena than hybridity. It better helps to overcome disciplinary limitations that gave rise to misleading concepts and reifications such as early Buddhism as a separate religion. It does not necessarily presuppose homogeneous cultural units, though for methodological reasons it might be indispensable to construct them. And it opens ways of studying processes rather than static 11

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forms of cultures, and historically or locally special traditions of appropriation, such as the Indian inclusive reactions towards otherness, which suggest that ‘Hinduism’ for long has been more open for appropriation than (say) ‘Islamic culture’. ‘Japanese culture’, with its many forms of appropriation of Chinese and Western influences, could perhaps here be mentioned as a similar case. To overcome the aporia that one has to define culture or cultural elements which, transculturally seen, one has to deny, it is necessary to differentiate between at least three forms of transculturality. I call them open, hidden and methodological transculturality. Open transculturality is evident in the cultural mixtures which I mentioned in the beginning; the components of these mixtures can be easily and clearly separated, since their historical process of amalgamation is comparatively short. Indo–jazz, a mixture of hybridization of American jazz with influences from classical Indian music and instruments, would be such a form of open transculturality. No wonder these open forms of transculturality have so far mostly been studied under the umbrella term ‘cultural hybridity’. Hidden forms of transculturality, though, must be seen in all cultural phenomena at all times even if the components are not on the surface. The sarod used in Indo-jazz, for example, is not an ‘Indian’ musical instrument but developed in Afghanistan. It is only by using a methodological transculturality as a default mode or heuristic concept, i.e. by looking at the formative and transformative processes resulting in any given cultural manifestation, that we discover such cultural entanglements as a result of processes of negotiation, bargaining and competition which allow conclusions on monopoles of interpretation and power relations. Does this result make the world any better? Perhaps not. But it at least helps not to claim that cultures have an essence, should be pure and uncontaminated. They simply cannot.

Notes 1. This chapter was triggered by a lecture delivered at the university president’s reception for visiting scholars, 31 January 2012, Heidelberg University, and in a shortened version at the award ceremony for the ‘Höffmann-Forschungspreis für interkulturelle Kompetenz der Universität Vechta’, February 2016. I am grateful to Christiane Brosius and Madeleine Herren-Oesch for many valuable suggestions. 2. For overviews and summarizing see: Hall (1992), Werbner and Modood (2000), Kraidy (2002, 2005) and Stockhammer (2012). 3. One example would be the American Baptist historian David Benedict, A History of All Religions, as Divided into Paganism, Mahometanism, Judaism and Christianity (Providence 1824); see Waterhouse (2005: 53). 4. See the reviews by Klaus (2011), Neelis (2008), Cort (2007), Sarao (2008) and Schmitt (2008). 5. This is a term Bronkhorst borrows from Zysk (1985: 8). 6. Cf. Witzel (2009: 303): ‘[T]he Buddha’s non-a¯tman theory is clearly based on the long history of a¯tman speculation in the late Bra¯hmanas and early Upanisads’. ˙ 7. See Firges and Jaspert, both in ˙this volume. 8. Retrieved from the OLPC Wiki: www.wsu.edu/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_2/ montaigne.html (accessed March 17, 2017). 9. Halbfass (1999: 132, 134); see also his opus magnum India und Europa (1981). 10. Bronkhorst (2007: 3) notes that Candragupta converted (!) to Jainism. However, without clear religious borders conversion remains a problem: see Gengnagel 2010. As´oka’s ‘religion’ is clearly not just Buddhist.

Bibliography Ashcroft, B., Griffiths, G. and Tiffin, H. (1998) Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies, New York: Routledge. Assmann, A. (ed) (1993) Mnemosyne. Formen und Funktion der kulturellen Erinnerung, Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer. 12

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Assmann, J. (1997) Das kulturelle Gedächtnis. Schrift, Erinnerung und politische Identität in frühen Hochkulturen, 2nd edn, Munich: C.H. Beck. Assmann, J. and Hölscher, T. (eds) (1988) Kultur und Gedächtnis, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Baumann, G. (2000) ‘Dominant and demotic discourses of culture: Their relevance to multi-ethnic alliances’, in P. Werbner and T. Modood (eds) Debating Cultural Hybridity: Multi-Cultural Identities and the Politics of Antiracism, 2nd edn, London: Zed Books, 209–25. Beck, U. (1998) Was ist Globalisierung? Irrtümer des Globalismus – Antworten auf Globalisierung, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp. Benhabib, S. (2002) The Claims of Culture: Equality and Diversity in the Global Era, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Bhabha, H. K. (1994) The Location of Culture, London and New York: Routledge. Bitterli, U. (1976) Die ‘Wilden’ und die ‘Zivilisierten’ – Grundsätze einer Geistes-und Kulturgeschichte der europäisch-überseeischen Begegnung, Munich: C.H. Beck. Bloch, E., Keppens, M. and Hegde, R. (eds) (2010) Rethinking Religion in India. The Colonial Construction of Hinduism, London and New York: Routledge. Bronkhorst, J. (2007) Greater Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India, Leiden: Brill. Brunner-Lachaux, H. (ed and trans.) (1977 [1963, 1966]), Somas´ambhupaddhati, 3 vols., Pondichérry: Institut Français d’Indologie. Burke, P. (2009) Cultural Hybridity, Cambridge: Polity Press. Cort, J. (2007) Review of J. Bronkhorst, Greater Magadha, Religious Studies Review, 33(2): 171–2. Falk, H. (1988) ‘Vedische Opfer im Pa¯li-Kanon’, Bulletin d’études Indienne, 6: 225–54. Feyerabend, P. (1975) Against Method, New York: New Left Books. Gellner, D. (1992) Monk, Householder, and Tantric Priest. Newar Buddhism and Its Hierarchy of Ritual, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gengnagel, J. (2010) ‘Conversion or initiation? On the removal of the sectarian marks (li> the rem) in S´ aiva Siddha¯nta’, in A. Zotter and C. Zotter (eds) Hindu and Buddhist Initiations in India and Nepal, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 281–98. Gethin, R. (1998) The Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Gokhale, B. G. (1980) ‘Early Buddhism and the Brahmins’, in A.K. Narain (ed) Studies in the History of Buddhism, Delhi: B.R. Publishing, 68–80. Gombrich, R. F. (1988) Therava¯da Buddhism. A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo, London and New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. ——. (1996) How Buddhism Began. The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, London and Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Athlone. Gómez-Peña (1996) The New World Order: Prophecies, Poems, and Loqueras for the End of the Century, San Francisco, CA: City Lights. Gutschow, N. and Michaels, A. (2005) Handling Death. The Dynamics of Death and Ancestor Rituals Among the Newars of Bhaktapur, Nepal, Ethno-Indology, 3, with contributions by J. and N. Sharma, and a film on DVD by C. Bau, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. ——. (2008) Growing Up. Hindu and Buddhist Initiation Rituals Among Newar Children in Bhaktapur, Nepal, Ethno-Indology, 6, with a film on DVD by C. Bau, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag. ——. (2012) Getting Married. Hindu and Buddhist Marriage Rituals Among Newars of Bhaktapur and Patan, Nepal, Ethno-Indology, 12, with contributions by M. Bajracharya and C. Brosius and a film on DVD by C. Bau, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2012. Hacker, P. (1983) ‘Inklusivismus’, in G. Oberhammer (ed) Inklusivismus: Eine indische Denkform, Vienna: Institut für Indologie der Universität. Häfner, R. (1994) Johann Gottfried Herders Kulturentstehungslehre. Studien zu den Quellen und zur Methode seines Geschichtsdenken, Hamburg: Meiner. Halbfass, W. (1981) Indien und Europa: Perspektiven ihrer geistigen Begegnung, Basel and Stuttgart; English edn (1988) India and Europe. An Essay in Understanding, New York: SUNY Press. ——. (1999) ‘Kulturelle Identität und interkulturelle Begegnung: Beobachtungen am Beispiel Indiens’, in G. and H. Waldenfels (eds) Religion und Identität. Im Horizont des Pluralismus, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 127–40. Hall, S. (1992) ‘Cultural Studies and Its Theoretical Legacies’, in L. Grossberg, T. Nelson and P. Treichler (eds) Cultural Studies, New York: Routledge. Hinüber, O. von (2001) Das ältere Mittelindisch im Überblick, 2nd edn, Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. 13

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Hutnyk, J. (2005) ‘Hybridity’, Ethnic and Racial Studies, 28: 79–102. Kaempfer, E. (1727) The History of Japan, giving an Account of the ancient and present State and Government of that Empire; of Its Temples, Palaces, Castles and other Buildings; of its Metals, Minerals, Trees, Plants, Animals, Birds and Fishes; of The Chronology and Succession of the Emperors, Ecclesiastical and Secular; of The Original Descent, Religions, Customs, and Manufactures of the Natives, and of their Trade and Commerce with the Dutch and Chinese, vol. 1, London: Printed for the Translator. Klaus, K. (2011) Review of J. Bronkhorst, Greater Magadha, Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, 161: 216–21. Kraidy, M. M. (2002) ‘Hybridity in cultural globalization’, Communication Theory, 12(3): 316–39. ——. (2005) Hybridity or the Cultural Logic of Globalization, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press. Kroeber, A. L. and Kluckhorn, C. (1952) Culture: A Critical Review of the Concepts of Definitions, Cambridge: Peabody Museum. Meisig, K. (1992) ‘Zur Entritualisierung des Opfers im frühen Buddhismus’, Mitteilungen für Anthropologie und Religionsgeschichte, 7: 213–21. Michaels, A. (2004) Hinduism. Past and Present, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Montaigne, M. de (1999) On Cannibals, in P. Brians, M. Gallwey, D. Hughes, A. Hussain, R. Law, M. Neville, R. Schlesinger, A. Spitzer and S. Swan (eds), Reading About the World, vol. 2, 3rd edn, San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace College Publishing. Neelis, J. (2008) Review of J. Bronkhorst, Greater Magadha, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 18(3): 381–3. Rosaldo, R. (1995) ‘Foreword’ in N. Garcia Concinlini and C. L. Chiappari (1995) Hybrid Cultures: Strategies for Entering and Leaving Modernity, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, xi–xviii. Sarao, K. T. S. (2008) Review of J. Bronkhorst, Greater Magadha, Orientalische Literatur-Zeitung, 103 (2): 250–4. Schleiermacher, F. 1991 [1799] Über die Religion. Reden an die Gebildeten und ihren Verächtern, 7th edn, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht; trans. J. Oman (1893) On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers, London: Kegan Paul. Schmitt, R. (2008) Review of J. Bronkhorst, Greater Magadha, Acta Orientalia, 69: 319–32. Stietencron, H. von (1995) ‘Religious configurations in pre-Muslim India and the modern concept of Hinduism’, in V. Dalmia and H. von Stietencron (eds), Representing Hinduism. The Construction of Religious Traditions and National Identity, New Delhi: Sage Publications. Stockhammer, P. W. (ed) (2012) Conceptualizing Cultural Hybridization – A Transdisciplinary Approach, Transcultural Research – Heidelberg Studies on Asia and Europe in a Global Context, Heidelberg: Springer. Waterhouse, D. M. (2005) The Origins of Himalayan Studies. Brian Houghton Hodgson in Nepal and Darjeeling 1820–1858, London and New York: Routledge. Werbner, P. and Modood, T. (eds) (2000) Debating Cultural Hybridity: Multi-cultural Identities and the Politics of Antiracism, 2nd edn, London: Zed Books. Wezler, A. (1983) ‘Bemerkungen zum Inklusivismusbegriff Paul Hackers’, in G. Oberhammer (ed) Inklusivismus: Eine indische Denkform, Vienna: Institut für Indologie der Universität. Witzel, M. (2009) ‘Moving Targets? Texts, Language, Archaeology and History in the Late Vedic and Early Buddhist Periods’, Indo-Iranian Journal, 52: 287–310. Young, R. J. (1995) Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Theory, Culture and Race, London: Routledge. Zysk, K. G. (1985) Religious Healing in the Veda, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, 75.7, Philadelphia, PA: American Philosophical Society.


2 Asymmetry in transcultural interaction Rudolf G. Wagner

This chapter maps the potential of the concept of asymmetry as an analytical tool for the study of transcultural interaction. It first presents a theoretical outline, which serves the function of a chain of hypotheses, and then tests these hypotheses with a case study about the development of the Chinese press.

Theoretical outline Introduction Asymmetry is a negative term that seems to signal the lack of something integral to the relationship between two entities – i.e. symmetry. It is based on comparison. Symmetry is the marker of overall stability and viability, and is therefore associated with order and beauty. In contradiction, asymmetry is the marker of instability and unsustainability. In its pure form, symmetry is an abstract concept; in reality, it only occurs as an unstable but low level of ‘fluctuating asymmetry’ (Lomkins and Kotiaho 2001: 1–5). As many processes in observable asymmetrical and chaotic reality tend towards the establishment of symmetry with its accoutrements of stability and viability, there is a dynamic relationship between the two, or, to be precise, between high and low levels of fluctuating asymmetry. This is visible in the simple snowflake with its very low (but still traceable) levels of asymmetry that make for a stable structure allowing it to interact with other such stable structures. However, it is generated and regenerated on a sub-atomic level by a whirl of processes that seem highly asymmetrical, but can be explored for an underlying symmetry because they are able to sustain such a symmetrical and relatively stable surface structure. This dynamic relationship is also visible in the association of low levels of asymmetry in outward appearance and functionality with the ability to successfully cope with the challenges of reproduction. Low levels of outward asymmetry lead to high reproductive success among complex organisms endowed in this manner, while a strongly asymmetrical appearance does not.1 At the same time, the inside of such symmetrical outsides is an utterly asymmetrical arrangement that is dictated by economy of space and the requirements of statics with, for example, a heart only on one side, and the left lung smaller to make room for it. The dynamics of symmetry and asymmetry seem to be operative in these processes themselves to accommodate perceptual preferences for 15

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symmetry and their underlying assumptions. They are not just a conceptual tool imposed from the outside. Against this background, a wide variety of scholarly fields ranging from the sciences to the social sciences and – to a much smaller degree, the humanities – have found that these dynamics provide a useful analytical tool to develop hypotheses about the order underlying the sustainability mechanisms of reality. While mathematicians have catalogued the variety of theoretically possible total symmetries, physicists have been trying to locate some of their approximations in a real world of manifest asymmetries and have been using the expectation of finding symmetry as a guiding hand in identifying a beautiful and simple order – supersymmetry – underlying all the surface turbulence.2 Most empirical research of necessity focuses on the visible asymmetry and the processes of its tending towards symmetry. Geneticists have claimed that asymmetry is a crucial condition for the emergence of complex sustainable life forms – ‘asymmetric cell division is a fundamental means by which cell diversity can be generated during development’ ( Jan and Jan 1999: E42). Economists are dealing with the impact of the asymmetry in information between buyers and sellers of second hand goods on creating turbulence in available goods and their prices (Akerlof 1970)3 and the impact of a move towards low levels of such information asymmetry on the development of a stable market (Saxton and Anker 2013); others have dealt with the dynamics of asymmetry in the trade between countries, where one country is exporting raw materials, the other processed goods, or the exports from one to the other are much higher in value than the imports from it (Akerlof 1970). Anthropologists have analysed the rules governing asymmetrical gift exchanges (Mauss 1923–1924). Military analysts have, since the Vietnam War, conceptualized ‘asymmetrical warfare’ as the use of an unconventional package of means – including non-military means such as patriotic propaganda and combatants seeking cover among the civilian population – to form a functional ensemble able to confront a power whose functionality hinges on superior armaments.4 Art historians have dealt with the role of symmetry and asymmetry in the aesthetics of perceived beauty, associating symmetry with order and religious or political authority, but also boredom, and asymmetry with movement and ‘formless chaos’ which, at moderate levels, also might make us ‘brighten up by new accents’.5

Asymmetry perceived As shown above, the concept of asymmetry is used to define a variety of relationships. These might be static relationships between components that stand in contrast to symmetrical relationships, as discussed in mathematics. Once we move to asymmetry in relationships and processes between higher organisms, individual agency becomes part of the ensuing dynamics. This agency has the form of instinct, or of more or less conscious action. The latter would be the case for human beings, which is at the centre of our interest here as we are focusing on transcultural interaction as studied by the humanities. In the human realm, asymmetry might characterize a dynamic relationship between entities such as asymmetry in trade between nations, or gift-giving between individuals. It is of greatest relevance for the humanities in general and transcultural studies in particular as a tool to explore human perception and the agency released by it. In the human world, the concept primarily describes a comparative perception of functionality. Functionality is used here as an umbrella term for suitability to the given purpose. It might apply to political systems as well as to sport fitness, to ‘civilized behaviour’ as well as to works of art. If the comparative perception of – as a rule, two – such entities in terms of their functionality defines them as being asymmetrical in the degree of their functionality, a historical agency is released to overcome this asymmetry, 16

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because the given feature of the other is more enjoyable, powerful, beautiful, efficient, and so on. This might be done in different ways, such as enhancing one’s own sports fitness, but if the entities involved are cultures or social bodies such as nations, this perception will result in asymmetrical exchanges with the counterpart, where one entity draws more and/or more important features from the other than vice versa. The result of a perceived asymmetry in functionality and the ensuing asymmetry in interaction is not linear – namely, some sort of control of the more functional side over the other – and often counterintuitive. Most of these interactions are neutralized in terms of power relations by being mediated through the market. For a counterintuitive case, the asymmetry in information discussed above, which reflects a disbalance in the functionality needed for the trade, will not result in the seller getting more, but in his being penalized with a random discount for perhaps knowing of more flaws in the product than the buyer. At the same time, the buyer will make efforts to overcome the random element in his penalizing the seller, which might still land him with a melon, by trying to decrease his information asymmetry concerning the product. The perception of the asymmetry in the functionality of information available to the two sides mobilized the agency to overcome it. Both the reality of asymmetry and the lofty goal of symmetry are pervasively present in history – for example, in international law – and are even universally present in the interaction between cultures. While the terms might not be used, the language of the historical protagonists suggests that there is an intrinsic dynamism in the perception of asymmetry to overcome it. The use of this concept is therefore an abstract modern formulation that still qualifies as hermeneutic because it is taking up this internal dynamics rather than being an ex post facto imposed concept such as those used by the social sciences for comparative purposes. This makes asymmetry a useful tool for the analysis of the perception of historical actors and their ensuing agency. As we shall see, its use comes with the price of neglecting elements and processes unknown to or disregarded by the historical protagonists while highlighting their construction of an environment framed by binaries. Modern scholarship has been reluctant to make use of this concept because of the stigma of political incorrectness attached to value judgements such as who is more ‘advanced’ and who less, or who is ‘stronger’ and who less, even though the sources constantly operate with and act on such judgements. Instead of trying to extract the internal dynamics resulting from them, modern scholarship has largely reduced the perceived asymmetry in the functionality of cultural or political features to an ‘objective’ asymmetry in power. This tendency has been most prominently pronounced in postcolonial scholarship in the wake of Edward Said’s work Orientalism (1978). As many examples show, the historical record does not support this line of argument. While Rome certainly was the political power that controlled the Greek cities from the middle of the second century BCE, the Roman elite was very explicit in accepting Greek culture (philosophy, epic literature, drama and poetry, the arts, medicine) as superior to the point of regularly acquiring fluency in Greek, using their Greek slaves as their teachers and guides. After the Manchu conquest of China and the establishment of the Qing dynasty (1644–1912), there was no effort to have Chinese adopt Manchu culture or even to learn the language of their new rulers. The power asymmetry persisted, but the new rulers did not only continue Chinese state structures, but clearly appreciated many aspects of Chinese culture (‘functionality’). They expressed this by acquiring linguistic and cultural fluency in Chinese to the point of writing Chinese poetry, collecting Chinese paintings, and sponsoring the publication of Chinese works. As these cases show, asymmetry of power does not in itself produce an asymmetry in transcultural interaction, but can very well coexist with an inverse asymmetrical interaction in this domain. 17

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The argument that asymmetry in a transcultural interaction is a dependent variable of an asymmetry of power comes with a second feature: it delegates the principal agency to the dominant power. In this reading, the big changes in language, habits, leisure, dress, but in political structure that have been occurring in Asian countries and elsewhere since the middle of the nineteenth century, for example, have been imposed by colonial and imperialist powers. The local inhabitants were forced into accepting them, and if there was no evidence of this, it was claimed that they had been brainwashed into wanting them.6 A look back at the two examples given shows that the agency in transcultural interaction is, as a general rule, with those who select features from another culture for adaptation in, or excision from, their own culture based on a perception of functionality. No Greek slave was in a position to force his Roman senator-master to learn to speak, read and write Greek and appreciate Greek culture – the agency clearly is with the senator. There is no record of any Chinese forcing the Manchu to acquire Chinese cultural competency, but they did to a degree that the Manchu court felt compelled to force Manchu Bannermen to learn Manchu and to practise some traditional skills such as bow shooting from a galloping horse, so as to preserve some Manchu identity and military prowess. While the argument may be made that in this case power and agency are in the same hand, the asymmetry in the interaction under these two umbrellas has the opposite directionality. A look at Japan during the Meiji reform will clarify this: the United States of America, Great Britain and France did not force Japan to adopt far-reaching reforms along Western lines. The agency in the selection and adaptation was entirely on the Japanese side. In short, the agency in transcultural interaction is with the pull and not with the push.7 While we have hitherto noted the presence of asymmetry in transcultural interaction to the point of locating the force driving the dynamics, we have yet to address the driving force itself. As we see in instinct-driven interactions in reproduction, the perception of low levels of asymmetry as the outside marker of functionality drives one kind of action – engagement – while that of high levels drives another kind of action – avoidance. The key driving force behind the action is the perception of the degree of asymmetry. Perceiving an asymmetry in power as the marker of functionality will release an intense form of agency to balance it out, or reverse it, but only a mild form of agency on the other side to counter these efforts so as to maintain or even enhance a dominant position. The actual mechanism, in other words, is the reverse of what has been claimed. The perception of asymmetry might refer to other sectors without any relationship to power. In the case of China’s adopting Buddhism, it was the perception of its high functionality in terms of spiritual and philosophical sophistication, ‘mind over matter’ efficacy, and the institution of the monastery that prompted the asymmetrical transcultural exchange of bringing Buddhism to China with its vast impact on the language, beliefs, thinking, arts, customs and literature without a similar impact in the other direction. This perception prompted people to engage in translating and copying texts, to raise funds and brave social controversy, and even undertake the arduous journey to the wellspring of this teaching to find more of those precious texts and learn more about the correct practices, but the political power of the North Indian or Central Asian states played no role. Agency is even mobilized in the case of asymmetries where not much more is known about the other side than a high functionality product that has become available, such as Roman glass in China, Chinese silk in Europe, or a Saracen blade in England. The agency released here ranges from investing vast amounts of energy to purchase the object for a high price, exchange it for a magnificent and rare counter-gift, get it as booty in a war that will cost lives, and/or find out the secret of the manufacture so as to produce the precious objects oneself. One important feature of this agency is the cultural creativity that goes into creating a locally compatible form of the selected transcultural feature. 18

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A classical narrative of the dynamics of this process is the story of Goujian, the king of Yue, in early fifth century BCE China. Goujian had neglected his duties and eventually his state was conquered by the neighbouring state of Wu. After three years as a servant of the King of Wu, Goujian was allowed to resume governing Yue as a vassal. Deciding to ‘remember and never forget humiliation’, he adopted a stern regime for himself, hired excellent advisors and developed the economy of Yue with the help of technology copied from Wu. With his state strengthened, he rebelled against Wu, overcame it and restored the sovereignty of Yue. The Goujian story has become the staple reference by Chinese politicians and writers to signal how they proposed to deal with a superior power such as Japan during the Sino–Japanese War, the Soviet Union after relations soured in the late 1950s, or the United States at present.8 All the ingredients that have been mentioned are in place. There is proof in an asymmetry of functionality (power) that resulted in Yue’s defeat. This perception releases the agency needed to cope with this asymmetry and change it. This is done by making the institutional changes (hiring of capable people) necessary for appropriating the elements that accounted for the dominance of the opponent without shifting loyalty to his side. The result was a dramatic reversal in the asymmetry of functionality as expressed in military power. It is the prospect and dream of such an inversion that releases the agency and drives the action. The perception of asymmetry is conscious and has been amply addressed in text and image. An 1873 Shanghai cartoon addresses the vision of the consequences of an inversion of the asymmetry of functionality between China and the ‘West’ (see Figure 2.1). This ‘vision’ satirizes both a Chinese dream and Western apprehensions about the future by not clearly identifying the visionary in image or text. The 1872 asymmetry in the functionality between China and the West is inverted down to the proud Chinese in the lower right corner, turning away Western coolies looking for work in China, and the Westerners in the criminals’ cangues guarded by Chinese in the upper right corner. In 1994, some 120 years later, Xu Bing, a Chinese installation artist, developed a performance with its own ironic twist entitled ‘A Case Study of Transference’, which enacted the process of asymmetrical transcultural interaction in a manner both lively and provocative. The action takes place in a pigsty strewn with straw and Western-language books. The artist chose a pig in heat and put some sex pheromones onto the books. He had the pig shaved and inscribed its body with meaningless Chinese-looking characters (for which Xu Bing is famous). As the pig shuffles through the books with their pheromone smell, a boar is let in. The boar has also been shaved, but the meaningless words inscribed on its body are in Western letters (see Figure 2.2). The boar then proceeds to do to the pig in heat what boars tend to do in such a situation. (In what is perhaps the uncontrollable part of this performance with live actors, the pig in the performance I saw gave its own take on the transcultural interaction by tolerating it, but not showing much interest.) The performance shows an animal naturalness or normalcy of the process of high-intensity transcultural interaction; it shows that certain ‘historical’ conditions at a given moment in history – a pig in heat and a boar capable of doing his thing, a China ready to be inseminated and the West having something to offer – have to be met for this to occur; and, it shows an asymmetry in the interaction between Western and Chinese culture (the letters) through the difference in gender and level of activity. It assigns the agency to the boar with the Western writing on the body in a narrative that sees the development of Western modernity in China as an act of insemination from the West. This is part of the natural course of things rather than violent imposition (Rahman-Steinert 2004).9 In a refusal to follow a nationalist line, the artist has two pigs copulating and does not denounce the West as a rapist, but he stays within the nationalist master narrative of China’s victimization by describing China’s Westernization (which of course includes Marxism) as somehow pushed by the agency 19

Figure 2.1 ‘A Vision of the Future’, Puck, or the Shanghai Charivari, 1872

Figure 2.2 Xu Bing, ‘A Case Study of Transference’, Beijing Han Mo Arts Center 1994

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of the West. While one certainly might take issue with this last point, the performance goes a long way in resetting the imperialism/victim narrative of Chinese schoolbooks as well as many Western writings on China’s transition to modernity. Perceived asymmetries in the functionality of cultural features come in different degrees. They range from a single feature such as a particular skill of technology to the perception of an asymmetry in the functionality of entire systems. The historical energy released will be commensurate. Great Britain might go through a craze for ‘Anglo–Japanese furniture’ in the 1860s and 1870s, modernist art in Europe might draw on the ‘primitive’ and raw artistic energy of African or Oceanian art without this being perceived as a threat to identity or as a systemic asymmetry. One reason for this is that these interactions occurred in a field associated with leisure, which at the time was considered marginal to the big issues of the economy and political power and therefore left larger space for individual preferences. On the other hand, the adoption of other items such as the stirrup might have a far-reaching impact, but these are not the result of conscious debate or intervention. The perception of a systemic asymmetry, on the other hand, presupposes a conscious notion of the systemic nature of the area under consideration, such as a political system or a military system, and the agency released will not go through a process of spontaneous spread, as in the case of the stirrup, but through a process of conscious systemic change that will result from explicit demands for systemic reform. The Meiji reforms in Japan were energized by the perception of a systemic asymmetry with the West that had to be overcome by a very explicitly systemic engagement with a broad range of ‘Western’ features. While one has to assume that at least in Eurasia goods and information have always been exchanged via merchants, monks or soldiers – at least on a modest scale – new means of transportation and communication have lifted interaction over long distances as well as the perception of asymmetries in this interaction to another order of magnitude in the modern world. A close and intense contact between cultures might expand the range of the perceived asymmetry to the point of an increase in the frequency of the perception of a systemic asymmetry with an entire package of features. (Close contact is not identical with spatial proximity.) The package has to be reconstructed from the historical protagonists’ perspective. Because it is not self-evident to them which elements of the package might be crucial for the desired outcome, the package often included elements rated essential that at later times seem marginal. Spencer’s social Darwinism, to give an example, was seen as a very essential part of the modernization package around 1900, although most political elites in China today would not have included it. Transcultural interaction is not a marginal feature of history, but the lifeline of culture. It is not relevant that, objectively speaking, the borders of culture are difficult or even impossible to define. From the perspective of historical actors, culture is the anchor of the identity of individuals or groups, and if we want to understand what drives them (and us), we have to look at things from their perspective. Anchoring identity comes with a boon, namely, the promise of a stable environment in ritual, values, language, institutions etc., but it also comes with a price, i.e. the calcification of these forms and the formation of specialist groups who claim the privilege to administer them. Under the hypothetical assumption that a culture was totally closed off from contact, it would most likely die of asphyxiation. In the real world, this very process of drying up calls forth challengers who push for change. The challengers might be outsiders who will impose themselves on such a weakened community, insiders who push for innovation by drawing on foreign resources, or both. Cultures that manage to keep the administrators of orthodoxy at bay constantly draw on other cultures as a matter of regular routine. This remains true even in strongly asymmetrical interactions such as those between 22

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colonial Africa and Europe,10 as it always involves appropriations in both directions. The perception of such asymmetries constructs a binary relationship with an ‘other’ even if the actual process is much more complex. It proceeds by way of essentializing both sides to arrive at a pathway for action. While a hermeneutic approach seems best suited to reconstruct the perception and the motivation for the actions of the actors involved, it has to pay the price of following the track of the binary logic involved. The binary anchors might be identifiable entities such as states, but the counterpart might also be an essentialized collective other made up of many parts, such as ‘the West’ or ‘the Orient’. The tendency to construct binary relationships is most likely the result of the comparative assessment of functionality and the ensuing asymmetrical interaction between two entities involved.

Massive translation During relatively moderate levels of transcultural interaction, the goods and features adapted from outside can be accommodated within the existing system. Words for a fruit such as peach or orange might get into European languages without changing their key terms or their grammar. The Greek black figure pot in the hands of a Hallstatt culture chieftain in northern Europe certainly is part of a transcultural interaction, but it is no more than a luxury good indicative of the prestige of its owner in his own society, because the lines of communication were (as far as we know at this moment) too thin at the time for transcultural interaction with Greek cities to reach a substantial scale. Once we move to intense, close and enduring contact, however, and to a perception of systemic asymmetry, the dynamics of the process might change to the point of the transcultural interaction moving to what I call ‘massive translation’ – the word ‘translation’ here being used as the umbrella term for transcultural interaction. Massive translation is quantifiable in many ways, but given the difference in impact (for example, of Luther’s Bible translation), qualitative aspects are an important part of the record. Massive translation signals a level of transcultural interaction where the ‘translated’ items are no longer absorbed within an existing system, but end up creating a new system in which they play a key or even the dominant role. In the Japanese case – and similar processes occurred at the time in other parts of Eurasia – massive translation reconfigured the key terms, the grammar, the rhetoric, the customs, the history, the political structure, the arts, the military, the technology and many other features so deeply that the translation ended up in establishing a new system with substantial similarity to the one from which it had been adapted, although – again like in other parts of Eurasia – it evinced a certain path dependency on selected traditional features, which themselves had formed in the course of earlier transcultural interactions. Massive translation involves extensive efforts by elites – often from ‘both’ sides – cooperating in managing this level of translation as brokers (see Jaspert, in this volume). An example is the extensive cooperation between monks of Indian and Central Asian origin and Chinese monks and laymen to spread Buddhism in China, which ended up utterly reconfiguring the language, literature, religion, art, social relations and even the political institutions of China. A similar massive translation occurred at the end of the so-called ‘Dark Ages’ in what is today northern France and Germany when Irish monks made available Roman and Christian knowledge that had been preserved at the fringe of the former Roman Empire. It is under conditions of perceived systemic asymmetry that the creative energy which will lead to massive translation is released. The bandwidth of action driven by this energy is wide. If we take the Chinese late-nineteenth century case as an example, it ranges from a decision to emigrate to the source of this massive translation, to studying abroad and becoming bilingual so as to operate as a cultural broker; from working with bilingual foreigners to accelerate this 23

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translation, to developing new institutions out of this translation that might allow for a resetting of the asymmetry; from defending the moral high ground while absorbing the technical, institutional and linguistic features related to practical pursuits,11 to claiming that the attractive foreign features had all originally been taken from local sources and developing adaptations of them that constructed their local authenticity;12 from absorbing the discourses of the foreign critics of modernity to develop a defence against this fundamental reordering of the local universe,13 to denying the existence of asymmetry altogether; from banning – for both Chinese and foreigners – the acquisition of the language skills required to reduce the prevailing information asymmetry about the world and the self,14 to defining the massive translation as a collusion of foreign meddling and local sycophantism.15 Two features characterize the process of transcultural interaction, the appropriation of all that seems of interest together with the simultaneous or retroactive claim to authenticity, the denial of its relevance, and the marginalization of the relevant evidence in heritage preservation and scholarship. The modern nation state has not created, but has radicalized, the latter two parts. This situation creates one of the main challenges for students of transcultural interaction. To sum up the key propositions relevant for transcultural interactions: •

• •

• • •

• • •

• • • •


Transcultural interaction is the lifeline of culture, but culture is also the anchor of identity. Transcultural interaction overcomes the inherent tendency of the identity-anchoring features of culture to dry up and thus lose the capacity to be an anchor of identity. Transcultural interaction is a ‘natural’ and constant process between cultures that goes on with fluctuating degrees of intensity and asymmetry. Asymmetry is perceived as a marker of functionality. Its definition is achieved by comparison with a symmetrical ideal other, or by comparing the degrees of functionality of two entities. The perception of asymmetry is constructed by historical actors as binary, if necessary by packaging a diverse ‘other’ into a single notion. Perceived asymmetry stimulates agency, mainly to overcome it. In the case of this perception referring to another cultural or social entity, the perception of the lower functionality of one’s own side will release historical energy that will led to an asymmetrical cultural interaction with the other side. The range and degree of this agency depends on the bandwidth and degree of perceived asymmetry with particularized and systemic asymmetry being the two extremes. The bandwidth and degree of this perception might depend on the closeness and intensity of contact. While reactions following this perception might vary from denial of the presence of asymmetry to emigration to the ‘more functional’ other, the feature with the greatest historical weight is massive translation, which takes place under conditions of perceived systemic asymmetry with both sides remaining intact. In massive translation, the ‘translated’ elements do not insert themselves into an existing and stable framework, but fundamentally transform it. If massive translation occurs on a regional or global scale, the result will be shared core features under a surface of seeming diversity. Massive translation might be defined quantitatively, qualitatively, or in a combination of both. The agency in transcultural interaction is with the pull from those adapting and appropriating features from elsewhere, not with a push from the environment from which they are adapted. (In the case of asymmetries of power, the principal agency is that mobilized by

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• •

the weaker side’s perception of it.) The pull is articulated through selection, ‘translation’, adaption, migration, or rejection. Transcultural interaction is facilitated by middlemen or brokers. They often come from both sides and tend to share a familiarity with both sides that might include bi- or multilingualism. In the case of perceived systemic asymmetry, they manage the massive translation that informs and focuses the agency to overcome it. Being intent on changing the asymmetrical status quo, these middlemen tend to have a critical distance from both sides and might be doubted by either. The challenge for transcultural studies to meet the burden of proof established by historians working in a nation state frame comes from the pervasive claims to cultural authenticity and the ensuing marginalization of the evidence of transcultural interaction.

Case study I: the Chinese newspaper Perception of systemic asymmetry in functionality between China and the West Long before the first modern newspapers were set up in China,16 the court and regional officials had issued circulars, Jingbao or Dibao for the court, and Dichao for the regions. They circulated mostly among officials and carried official documents such as records of the ruler’s official activities, decrees, appointments and approved memorials. Neither international news nor news records or opinions emanating from society were included. There were no newspapers set up and run by commoners. Like in the Ottoman Empire, India, Japan and elsewhere, setting up vernacular newspapers owned and managed by commoners and carrying international news as well as bottom-up news and opinion from society was pioneered in China by Westerners. The first Chinese-language periodical publications were issued by missionaries eager to use print to multiply their voices, but their content was largely secular, introducing ‘useful information’ about the world. By the 1860s, commercial Chinese-language supplements or separate papers started to be published by Western-language newspapers in Shanghai and Canton. The introduction of Chinese language newspapers was part of an asymmetrical interaction. Newspapers were already seen by the Taipings in the 1850s as part of a Western modernization package (which for them included the Christian faith), although there is no indication that they envisaged private persons setting them up or that these papers were to function as bottomup articulation or even government watchdogs. Since China’s second loss against England in the Arrow War in 1859–1860, a strong asymmetry with the ‘West’ began to be perceived by all participants in the negotiations ending this war. This perception of asymmetry was the trigger for efforts on the Chinese side to overcome it. Leading Chinese officials considered the asymmetry sectoral, mainly in the quality of weaponry, and they set out to balance it through acquisitions and by opening arsenals for weapons manufacture. Some individuals from their entourage such as Feng Guifen, however, went to the Shanghai Foreign Settlements to familiarize themselves with this ‘West’. They came to suspect a systemic asymmetry in functionality between the ‘two’ systems that probably could only be overcome by systemic change on the Chinese side along the lines of Western institutions. The leading officials, however, blocked publication of their views so that from the early 1860s until the mid-1880s, they circulated only in manuscript form among a small number of people. The British negotiators developed a similar perception of systemic asymmetry in functionality as Feng Guifen. Theoretically, the defeat of China in the Arrow War was the outcome of this 25

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asymmetry in functionality and it would have given England the leeway to impose huge reparations, partition China, take as colony whatever they wanted, and set up institutions there as it had done in Hong Kong. England did nothing of the kind. After the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 in India, England was in no mood to get control over another gigantic territory with a large population and no known mineral resources, but it retained a strong interest to open the Chinese market for trade. This presupposed a stable and strong Chinese government able to secure an environment contributive to this goal and to maintain the territorial integrity of China to keep other nations from appropriating territory and sealing it off. The Chinese government was at the time under threat of being toppled by the Taiping, a millennial movement that saw itself as part of the Second Great Awakening, and was supported by many missionaries as a big step towards the Christianization of China. This conflict between a long-term goal of secure trade benefits and a short-term opportunity to get the maximum out of China was resolved by the British government in favour of the long-term goal. As a consequence, it was forced to ‘strike, so to say, with a gloved hand, lest the blow delivered should kill outright’.17 It only demanded that China open additional treaty ports for trade, while imposing minimal reparations, agreeing to sell arms to the government to defeat its ‘Christian’ adversaries, and making an officer (General Gordon) available to lead an anti-Taiping force. This British strategy of supporting both the Chinese government and the territorial integrity of China was soon also adopted by the United States. The Chinese side became aware of the bind into which its own asymmetrical weakness had put its opponents, and has ever since made good use of this knowledge to extract concessions without having to pay the price (Chong 2009, Wagner 2017). In short, a perception of asymmetry in an important area will lead to creative efforts by one side to overcome it, but the agency remains on that side. The asymmetry does not in itself translate into a relationship of subservience to the other side. Feng Guifen drew on the ideals of a full functionality of Chinese governance during the Three Dynasties of antiquity when sages ruled the realm to contrast it with the deficient present. He was as yet unable, however, to pinpoint an ultimate structural cause for the success of the West and the dismal situation of China, and therefore was as yet incapable of proposing a systemic way to overcome it. In hindsight, it would seem that the reason for this was his lack of familiarity with the institutions of the newspaper and of parliament, both of which did not exist in Shanghai during his sojourn.18

The newspaper A major turning point towards a public perception of a systemic asymmetry between China and the ‘West’ that called for urgent action on the Chinese side came in 1872 with the publication of the Chinese-language Shenbao newspaper in the Shanghai International Settlement. Opinion articles on its daily first page explicitly contrasted the functionality of China and the ‘West’, pointing to the ‘West’s’ ‘booming prosperity’ and China’s ‘deficiencies’. They suggested a systemic cause: communication between high and low, court and society, was blocked in China while it was open in the West (Wagner 2018). This left the Chinese court ignorant about society, and, because a tradition of secrecy greatly reduced the information value even of the material printed in the Peking Gazette, it left society ignorant about the plans of the court and without a channel to make its voices heard. This blockage had wide-ranging ripple effects across society, primarily the lack of critical input from below on government performance, the absence of a common will uniting high and low, and the blockage of innovations coming from below. The concept guiding this analysis, shang xia zhi tong, ‘communication between high and low’, was not a foreign term in translation, but a time-honoured Chinese notion. The present 26

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disconnect between high and low, the opinions argued, did not agree with the ideals of China’s antiquity when sages had ruled the land, because during the Three Dynasties – Xia, Shang and Zhou – this connection had been fully functional and its institutions were protected by the enlightened rulers of the time. The paper’s opinion pages developed a historical narrative about how the present state of affairs had come about. With the establishment of the imperial state under the Qin late in the third century BCE, they wrote that the connection between high and low had been cut by rulers and officials afraid of critical opinion from below. They had abolished the education system of the Three Dynasties when there had been, it was claimed, a school in every village and even women had informed opinions on ritual, government virtue, or astronomy. Abolishing the schools as well as the channels for bottom-up communication and critique had resulted in the stultification of the populace. Since the Qin, successive governments had also stultified the minority of literate men by tying them to a system of rote-learning of no use to the actual handling of government business, and had erected ever higher walls of secrecy between the court and society and even between different layers of the administration. In the West, in contrast, an institutional way had been found to secure the connection between high and low, namely the establishment of newspapers by private citizens and of elected parliaments, both of which acted to keep government and society informed, provide advice from society to government, and even check the government’s actions. The newspapers were instruments in spreading literacy and benefited from this spread while increased literacy and levels of information among the public enhanced its capacity to select qualified persons for parliament and check their performance. The development of this narrative about the origins and features of the crisis of the Chinese polity involved both the imaginary full functionality of ideal governance in China’s deep past, and in that of the present-day ‘West’. In process, the ‘West’, the Three Dynasties, and the present state of China were all essentialized. While such a binary essentialization (China/West, modern China/Three Dynasties) stripped the actual record of the historicity, diversity and contradictory features, and would not fit the accuracy criteria of a historian, it fulfilled its function of facilitating the development of specific reform proposals. The agency in defining the essential features marking the functional superiority of the ‘West’ with their implied pertinence for the Chinese case was clearly on the side of the Shenbao opinion piece writers. In the same process, the Three Dynasties were essentialized through a selection of features that could serve as the counterpoise to China’s present situation and that would support compatibility with and acceptance of the Western solution available at present. In the argumentative hierarchy, the functionality of the ‘Western’ system as evidenced by its resulting wealth and power is highlighting the dysfunctionality of the Chinese system of the present, which in turn guides the search for features from the Three Dynasties that might correspond to the elements securing the evident functionality of the West. In short, the master text defining the Chinese present via inversion and defining the imaginaire of past Chinese governance via agreement is the ‘West’ as essentialized to suit this purpose. Three Dynasties’ governance was recast as being based on the same principles as the modern West, and contemporary China was recast into the essential ‘West’s’ essential opposite.19 None of the three ingredients remained unchanged by this process. The master text was the essentialized West, while agency in the change in all three was entirely on the Chinese side. The new conceptual framework to define the state of China recast the entire environment in a way that were the first steps in what I call massive translation. The court’s tax and customs income, for example, moved from being the private affair of the ruler to being money taken from the public for which public accountability was now demanded in the opinion pieces. The 27

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Peking Gazette, to give another example, changed from being a crudely printed slow means of selective communication for officialdom to being the source of top-down information from the court to society along the lines of a Western government gazette. It was recast to fulfil this important function by the Shenbao. Its full content was hand-copied in Peking, transmitted via the new cable from Tien-tsin to Shanghai, and printed every day with the most modern metal font and machinery in the Shenbao; but the opinion page of this paper also began running articles criticizing the Peking Gazette for utterly failing in this newly assigned role as it did not convey even the most important considerations and policies of the court to society. The Shenbao itself was recast from a newspaper containing information and opinion about the government, society and the world, to the avatar of systemic change in China by establishing communication between high and low on its pages. The newspaper, in other words, was both the platform to discuss the asymmetry and its causes, and one of the two key instruments to overcome it. The editorials argued that emulating the West in overcoming the flaws debilitating China was in full agreement with the cherished ideals of Chinese governance anchored in the Three Dynasties, because the newspaper was just the modernized form of the institutions set up by the sages of Chinese antiquity for communication between high and low and, therefore, had all the markers of cultural authenticity, its Western form notwithstanding. The arguments took up Chinese traditions not just in the tropes and the terminology used, but also in limiting themselves to the communication between state and society, shang and xia, high and low, which indeed had been the focus in earlier political philosophy. Horizontal communication within society was given short shrift, although the newspaper in effect also served that function. Setting up Chinese-language newspapers through which the Chinese could on their own engage in the public discussion of the changes needed was a crucial step both in implementing systemic change and preparing the ground for changes in other parts of the system – such as education, state finances, the law, the status of women, or the military. The effectiveness of newspapers in bringing about the free flow of communication between high and low had been proven in the West; they were a case of present day ‘best practice’ with success secured. By the mid-1880s, the Shenbao’s first pages gave a public definition of the issue and its range, of the cause for its occurrence, of the history of its occurrence, of the ways to remedy it, and of the compatibility of the Western forms suggested with the shared Chinese ideals of governance. This had become widely accepted by a quickly widening range of men-of-letters going public with their opinions on the crisis of the Chinese polity and the way forward. This acceptance greatly enhanced the weight in the public sphere of the line of arguments developed on the Shenbao’s first page, and it began to put pressure on the state administration to follow up with real action. After China’s defeat in the war with Japan in 1895, the famous reform petition drafted by Kang Youwei and signed by 10,000 participants in the national examinations, the outline of needed reforms written by Timothy Richard at the suggestion of the Emperor’s teacher in the same year, and a Shenbao editorial about the defeat, all diagnosed the lack of communication between high and low as the principal cause, and newspapers and, at a later date, a parliament along Western lines, as the principal cure.20

The cultural brokers The Shenbao played the pivotal role of a cultural broker in this process of articulating the perception of the state of the Chinese polity, the causes for it, the remedy for it, and where the remedy could be found. It was the first Chinese-language paper that was not linked institutionally and in content to a Western-language newspaper or to missionary enterprises, 28

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and remained the most important Chinese-language paper until 1949. As a medium it was already part of a transcultural interaction with the ‘West’. As importantly, the Shenbao Publishing Company, Shenbaoguan, was foreign-owned and managed. It had been set up in 1872 by Ernest Major, a young tea merchant from London, with three silent partners from England and Scotland who were all engaged in business in Shanghai. Besides the newspaper, their company engaged in Chinese book and periodical publishing with metal font typesetting, and soon thereafter in publishing reproductions of Chinese paintings, calligraphy, rubbings and books by means of lithography. To give an example of its importance outside its newspaper publishing, in the barely 30 years between 1872 and 1900, the company published more Chinese novels than any other publisher had in the 250 years of the Qing dynasty (cf. Yeh 2015: 175). Major, who was fluent in written and spoken Chinese, was the son of a lowly third clerk in the British War Ministry and the daughter of an East India Company clerk who had grown up in Calcutta. The family was loosely connected to a group of old China hands that tended to be critical of the quick resort to arms in British China policies. From his family background, his school environment in the Clapham Grammar School with its unique modern and handson education, as well as his practical pursuits and public statements in Shanghai, it may be inferred that he followed the ‘betterment’ agenda of the Scottish Enlightenment. He managed the company in a very hands-on style with a decisive impact on the selection of the journalists and editors, on the editorial line and focus of outside contributions, on the books and images chosen for publication, and the social networking to build up a dedicated ‘Shenbaoguan community’ of contributors and readers.21 The Shenbao set the professional standards for journalists and trained most of the firstgeneration Chinese working in this new profession. Its model was emulated by other new papers, mostly set up by foreigners in Shanghai, other treaty ports, and eventually by Chinese in inland China (see Vittinghoff 2002). The foreign owners were protected from the Peking court by extrality, and their papers as well as their staff were to a degree shielded through the treaty port environment. It was a symptom of the asymmetry in the functionality of China compared to that of the West that the platform for the discussion of the state of the Chinese polity could only be set up outside the purview of the government of this polity, and that the Chinese journalists working in the paper worked under the constant threat of being apprehended. The early brokers in this process of developing the information and conceptual wherewithal for an informed assessment of the relative degree of functionality of China and the ‘West’ were foreign missionaries and businessmen, as well as Chinese, many of whom were working with these foreigners.22 Both groups shared a distance from their respective governments as they were involved in challenging and changing the status quo. The independent Chinese journalists were – against all evidence – routinely denounced by a sequence of Chinese governments as people who vented their frustration about their failure in a regular career and could be bought to spread unfounded rumours. This attitude highlighted a continuous government assumption that independent voices in society had no legitimacy to speak. This assumption – buttressed by the claim that their independence was just a cloak for their being propagandists of foreign, reactionary or rebellious interests – eventually became dominant in the People’s Republic of China. The situation was similar for the foreigners involved. The papers they managed were often critical of the governments of their home countries and they failed to abide by the priorities of these governments to the point of the Shenbao referring (to the consternation and rage of the Shanghai consulate) to Queen Victoria with a title that failed to set her on par with the Qing emperor. British diplomats in China loathed these foreign-run vernacular papers, because if they published critical reports about Chinese officials or the court, the Chinese government would 29

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call on the foreign diplomats to put a stop to such interference in China’s affairs; but these diplomats, in fact, had no legal instrument to do so. In India, the government suspected that the vernacular papers set up by Englishmen had been responsible for rousing opinion to the point of stimulating the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857. For a while, it set up stringent censorship rules and closely monitored the content of these papers. In Japan, the British Ambassador Parkes promptly agreed when the government asked him to ban British subjects from publishing vernacular papers. British diplomatic records show the unease and sometimes helpless frustration with which the Shanghai consulate followed the Shenbao. However, no demand from the Qing court was forthcoming to close the paper because there always was a strong enough group considering the information it carried useful enough to oppose such a move. Nothing in the available records indicates that Major saw his paper as a British mouthpiece, the Consulate certainly did not see it that way, and the acceptance of the Shenbao and the Shenbaoguan products would seem to indicate that Chinese readers did not see it that way either. These brokers, whether of foreign or Chinese origin, had a critical common commitment to the betterment of China. The early Chinese journalists were among those best informed about the ‘West’, even if they were or not fully bilingual. While they worked in a Western-style medium, which until about 1900 was mostly run by foreigners and thus gave these journalists ample and daily exposure, their commitment to the betterment of China had them scour for features that might be useful for China to emulate. In general, they were open-minded, often expressed admiration in their description of foreign features, and developed friendly long-term relations with foreign counterparts. Many of the foreigners involved in their turn had a deep and long-term commitment to China. They sometimes expressed this through pen names such as ‘Lover of the Han Chinese’, Ai Han zhe, the sobriquet of Guetzlaff, through the titles of some English-language papers coming out in Hong Kong such as The Friend of China, by signing reader’s letters ‘Sinophilus’, or explaining, as Major did, that the first duty of a Chinese paper was ‘loyalty to the [Chinese] Emperor’, to which he added directly that this did not mean empty flattery but concern for the country. Beyond those declarations, most of the foreign brokers were involved in a wide range of charitable and advisory activities beyond newspaper work that showed their personal engagement in China, such as setting up hospitals and schools, fundraising for famine relief, translating or writing works containing ‘useful knowledge’, translating Chinese works for Western audiences, or writing travelogues and historical introductions. For this, they were often criticized by peers who did not share this commitment.

Agency in defining and overcoming asymmetry It would seem from the above that the agency in the process of setting up Chinese-language newspapers was mostly with foreigners such as Major. A closer analysis shows that this argument cannot stand. It is one thing to publish a paper – this might just involve writers, paper, ink, a printing device and some money. A paper such as Shenbao, however, comes into its own by being bought and read by Chinese readers. They do not enter the process after the production is done, they are there from the outset as figments in the minds of the writer and publisher because it is to them the paper is addressed, and from their reading all depends. No power can force the reader to buy and read the paper; the agency is all his, even though it is passive in the sense that he is not directly involved in the conceptualization and production. Major was very explicit on this point. When his paper was challenged as supporting the interests of England (or even, on one occasion, France), he ridiculed the assumption saying that his paper’s business was getting Chinese readers to buy it, and that his growing sales showed that they did, and that they would hardly have done so if the paper had advocated foreign interests. Even the 30

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most important papers run by missionaries shifted gear in the early 1870s, reducing their religious content and following Shenbao’s lead. They remained reluctant, however, to have opinion pages. In short, the ultimate agency in this binary perception of transcultural interaction is with the pull and not the push.

Adaptation While the Shenbao opinion page stressed the independence of the newspaper and its commitment to benefit state and society, such independence was even in the ‘West’ a recent and fragile claim to a high goal, and it was neither universally accepted by governments nor universally practised by journalists. As we move to study the Chinese (or, for that matter, Japanese) adaptation of this new medium with the huge claim to its own importance, a deep path dependency on both sides quickly made itself felt. Very much as the Shenbao had claimed, the Qing government as well as a substantial part of the elite maintained that managing the state was their affair and society had no business to meddle. As some reaction to what was increasingly and generally accepted as being a crisis of the Chinese state was needed, two strategies were developed on the state side to both absorb the new features and adjust them to different priorities. Modern newspapers should be set up by government, or since Republican times by the party that controlled government, and a modern parliament should be established, but with deputies entirely or in their majority selected by the powers-that-be. The function of these papers was to inform the public of what the government considered relevant, and in a manner conducive to the government’s goals. These papers were, and were meant to be, advocacy papers. In the Chinese context, the newspaper became the battleground for a legitimate public voice. The succeeding governments of the Qing, the Republic and the PRC, together with a substantial part of the elites with their traditional state-orientation and assumption that managing the state was their prerogative, claimed that the public lacked the maturity or the qualification altogether to make seasoned judgements on matters of common concern. Journalists who claimed they were independent were a corruptible and untrustworthy group feeding the worst instincts of the public. True, there were issues of corruption, incompetence or ill-advised policies in the government/party, but it had to develop and did develop its own mechanisms to detect them and deal with them: the Censorate for the Qing, the Control Yuan for the Republic, and the Party Discipline Commission for the PRC. Newspapers should be run by the government. The advocates of independent Chinese newspapers claimed that strict standards of justice, even-handedness, incorruptibility and commitment to the public good were followed by most journalists; that the internal self-control mechanisms of government were not working; that the government was financed by the people’s taxes and the people therefore had a right to be informed and involved in government decisions; and, most importantly, that the newspaper would help to establish a connection between state and society that would allow both to act with a unity of purpose that would multiply their collective strength. Since China’s defeat in the war with Japan in 1895, Chinese advocacy papers published in Shanghai saw a steep rise. They were independent in that they were critical of present-day government policies. Once these policies changed with the ‘Hundred Day Reform’ in 1898, the key figures such as Liang Qichao were happy to make their advocacy papers into government gazettes, because they shared the government’s assumption that if the state was well run according to their prescription, the state and its officials were the only legitimate public voice. Although the reformers were quickly sidelined and the court began a massive development of 31

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government gazettes for the regions, this incident shows the underlying commonality of purpose between the advocacy papers and the government gazettes. Meanwhile, the independent ‘commercial’ papers flourished, and while the Shanghai International Settlement continued to dominate, many cities in the interior including Peking saw new commercial papers being published. Their growing print runs were a signal that the public was accepting them.23 As none of the governments, however, accepted the ‘benefits for state and society’ of such independent papers, their standing in the official order of things remained unstable and contested with random persecution, and their access to government information even worse than it was for foreign-language papers. For their own protection these Chinese papers, which were owned and run by Chinese publishers, were mostly published in the Shanghai International Settlement, and in addition registered in the US as ‘Delaware corporations’. This foreign connection and protection in turn opened them to the charge that they were serving foreign interests. In the last years of the First World War, the participants on both sides of the war had moved towards massive state-sponsored propaganda to get domestic support, undermine the cohesion of their opponents, and win over the neutrals. China became and remained a contested ground with Japan, the US, France, England and the Soviet Union (via the Communist International) all having newspapers and periodicals tied to their interests, in the case of Japan and France with financial subsidies. While Lin Yutang, writing in 1934, praised the ‘commercial nonpropaganda’ character which the Shenbao had kept since Major’s days (Lin Yutang 1936: 88), the foreign role in the media was such that there was a widely held belief that behind almost every independent paper was a foreign government (see Wagner 2012: section World War I and Propaganda). For the KMT newspapers as well as for the new Communist press, no independence was ever claimed, as both were very explicitly committed to advocacy. While the charge of serving foreign interests did not result in the delegitimation of the independent press among the Chinese public, it signalled that it had no standing in the eyes of both the KMT and its Communist opponents. In 1949, the process of adjusting the institution of the newspapers to the Chinese party state’s demands was completed. It came with the abolishment of what was left of the leeway of independent papers in the PRC. Without any visible resistance from journalists, all newspapers and periodicals published in the new PRC were put under the control of the Propaganda Department of the Communist Party where they remain to this day, in a strategy that again was part of a transcultural interaction as it was emulating the manner in which another ‘West’, the Soviet Union, had handled its press. In hindsight, it becomes clear that the Chinese government press has managed to establish itself for the time as the dominant force. This government press was nothing like the Peking Gazette, because it had been radically transformed through the competition and interaction with the independent press that drew on Western models. It maintained and developed the focus on state–society relations with the right to speak on important and controversial issues exclusively assigned to the government side, and it eventually became a powerful tool for shaping the public perception of the world and of China within it, to crowd out alternative opinion and information, and to prevent horizontal communication in society with its potential to establish networks of people sharing information and opinion that had not been vetted by government. Transcultural interaction under conditions of massive translation, however, is a drawn-out process, not a one-time event. The tensions marking the historical trajectory of the Chinese press remain visible. The PRC press operates under a constitution that guarantees ‘freedom of the press’, although this constitution is not legally binding. The difference between the PRC press and an independent press is obfuscated in PRC writing through the general definition of 32

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the press as propaganda, which leaves only one issue to be clarified – whether it is propaganda for the correct and progressive or for the backward side. Asymmetry in transcultural interaction in a given field is not a stable relation, but a dynamic process. The process described here has been unfolding across Asia, Latin America and Africa in a similar dynamics to the point that, on the formal side of the legal framework, the ‘free press’ has become a globally shared article of legitimate governance, whatever particular situation prevails locally. One might expect that the binary construction of transcultural interaction would gradually give way to more circular processes, and that, at least in certain fields, one might see an inversion of asymmetrical exchanges. While the latter can be documented here and there – Japanese methods of car manufacturing have become the world standard – and while de facto more circular processes even in the field of the press might have occurred, the perception of the participants has retained the binary construction, and we can see in the case of the PRC press that asymmetrical exchanges continue with the ‘West’. The PRC press continues to selectively draw on its Western counterparts for commercial strategies such as advertising, but also for political strategies such as the use of Nylan’s notion of the press as ‘soft power’ with the potential to enhance China’s influence abroad. And, last but not least, even among Chinese Party journalists the echo of the original credo of the independent press occasionally reverberates, such as when the journalists from the Communist Party’s official paper, the People’s Daily, went on a march in the heyday of late May 1989, waving banners with the English inscriptions ‘Freedom of Press’ and ‘We want to report truth! Don’t force us to lie!’ (quoted in Brady 2007: 42). While there have been cases of foreign governments adopting PRC strategies and technologies of erecting internet walls around their national territory, there is as yet no report of governments in the US or Europe adopting and adapting PRC ways to manage the press.

Historiography and heritage preservation Writing the history of the Chinese press has to accommodate the second function of culture, namely, to be an anchor for identity. The framework for a master narrative suiting that purpose was already laid in Ge Gongzhen’s 1928 History of the Chinese Press. Ge’s work reduced the Chinese press to the Chinese-language press although large numbers of foreign language papers were published in China; the Chinese-language papers drew much of their information from them; their readership was substantially or even in its majority Chinese; and their credibility was generally considered higher. While Ge acknowledged the existence of the early Chineselanguage papers run by foreigners, he claimed – against all evidence, as we have seen – that they were marginal because they were only interested in making money and did not have editorials or opinion pages that engaged with the big issues of the nation. In a second step he claimed that the truly Chinese press had only begun once ethnic Chinese owners and editors had taken over, and that the most relevant papers from the outset had been aiming not at objectivity and neutrality, but advocacy. Ge Gongzhen wrote too early to discuss the merger of the advocacy press and the government gazette, most consistently in the Communist-held areas and eventually in the PRC. This chapter was supplemented by PRC writers with glorifying descriptions of how the Chinese press had been liberated from capitalism (the independent papers), feudalism (the government papers run by the KMT), and imperialism (the papers with connections to foreign powers) to become the truly free press administered by the people’s Communist Party for the greater benefit of state and society.24 This narrative actually went beyond the earlier essentialized features of the Western press by adding that financial and political interests played an important and well-documented role in 33

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its history. This recrafting of the essentials of the Western press and the Chinese independent press modelled on it was not driven by a scholarly interest of historical study, but by an agenda to justify a different selection process. The PRC master narrative established the claim to authenticity that is at the heart of the nation state’s administration of culture by marginalizing the transcultural interaction, and it established the PRC Party press as the true heir of the truly Chinese government advocacy press. This line of presentation set the parameters for the preservation of the related cultural inheritance. The PRC engaged in a large-scale microfilming project of Chinese-language papers since the early 1960s. This preservation project mostly concerned the advocacy papers, especially those associated with the Communist Party, but it also included a small number of commercial papers such as the Shenbao, because their news section contained information not to be found elsewhere. The foreign-language papers published during the late Qing and the Republic have not been included, the relevant holdings in various PRC libraries have not been catalogued, and to this day we only have a list of the Qing period Treaty Port papers done by Western scholars (King and Clarke 1965), but no list at all of these papers for the Republican period with their titles, editors, dates and surviving issues beyond the newspaper directories published at the time by an advertising agency (Crow 1931). The impact of this policy is that materials supporting the PRC master narrative are well preserved and accessible, while those that do not have to be assembled in painstaking labour, if they have been preserved and are accessible at all. The master narrative of the PRC is endlessly repeated and replicated, down to providing the frame for many individual research articles. The impact of this master narrative and heritage preservation reaches far beyond the PRC itself as this type of China-centred narrative fit into a post-colonial narrative of the victimization of China by the ‘West’ that became dominant for a while in the US and elsewhere in the late twentieth century in the wake of the Vietnam War (Wagner 2012). Scholars trying to trace the development of the Chinese press were thus confronting a doubly daunting challenge. On the one side their arguments, drawing on painfully assembled shreds of information, were challenging the well-documented and homogenized nation-state narrative with its stress on authenticity; on the other side, the distance imposed on them by their sources from a widely shared historiography of guilt threatened to assign them to the camp of the apologists of imperialism. The quandary is evident in much late Qing scholarship published in the West. Major, to give an example, was a commoner who published a Chineselanguage newspaper. Although he was without question hugely important for the development of Shanghai into China’s media capital, he has no entry in the earlier versions of the Shanghai local chronicle published in the PRC, and got a two-line biography only after the government decided to redefine the treaty ports from devices of capitalist exploitation to engines of China’s modernity. Although the Shenbao was from early on active in rallying Chinese merchants for charity work such as disaster relief outside their home provinces, and was even awarded a medal from the court for it, studies on elite activism during the late Qing leave this out while their footnotes show that most of the information these elite activists had about each other’s activities came from the Shenbao. In short, the study of the dynamics of asymmetries in transcultural interaction takes place in the real world.

Critical evaluation of the uses of the concept of asymmetry The explanatory power of the concept of asymmetry to define comparative levels of functionality and the relative levels of transcultural interaction, together with offering a tool to explore the historical energies released by the perception in the former realm, has its strengths as well as its 34

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weaknesses. It is anchored hermeneutically in the perception of the participants and in the agency they unfold based on this perception. For the analysis of this perception and the agency it releases, it provides a useful and powerful tool. It allows for the location of the ultimate agency released; for dealing with the dynamics unfolding under conditions of a perceived asymmetry in functionality with elements of a foreign culture or social entity, and the ensuing levels of transcultural interaction from selective adaptation to massive translation; for situating the intermediaries in the process of transcultural interaction based on their actions rather than their passports; and it accounts for the common difficulties in transcultural studies to meet the high burden of documentary proof established by historians for nation-state historiography. It deals with a perception, however, that compares binary essentials stripped by the historical actors of their unique historicity to make them adoptable and adaptable. Its weakness thus is that it juxtaposes essentialized and dehistoricized features and does not cover the actual complexity of the historical process. This historical process involves multiple interactions with fluctuating asymmetries in many different fields and, most importantly, participants with a wide range of differing assessments of the causes and proposals for solutions. A full analysis of such a historical process might even prove that the perception of the historical actors was short-sighted or wrong. Such proof, however, would not invalidate the hermeneutical argument because the historical protagonists act not on an elusive objective truth and complete set of deep information, but on their own perception. A full historical analysis might have to proceed in three steps, uncovering the hidden evidence of perceptions of asymmetry and transcultural interaction through a critical perusal of the historical record, as it has as a rule been homogenized under the banner of internal continuity and authenticity; an exploration of the perception of the historical protagonists and the energy released by it; and a confrontation of their perception with relevant data unknown to them or disregarded by them.

Notes 1. Low levels of outward asymmetry are said to reflect greater developmental stability and subsequent fitness (Thornhill and Randy 2008: 162–68). Humans are seen as more attractive when their faces are symmetrical (Kowner 1996; Baudouin and Tiberghien 2004). 2. The World Science Festival in June 2016 was devoted to the topic ‘Beyond Beauty: The Predictive Power of Symmetry’: www.quantamagazine.org/20160622-beauty-symmetry-physics/ (accessed 10 August 2017). It featured a discussion between a theoretical physicist, an experimental physicist, a mathematician and a science writer. 3. This study earned the author a Nobel prize in economics. On the ‘detrimental’ effects of the often intentionally created information asymmetries, see Lightfoot and Wisniewski (2014). 4. First used by Mack (1975). It has since become a standard analytical tool for a wide variety of wars as well as for the study of military theory. 5. Ernst Hans Gombrich has dealt with this issue (1982, 1984). For an overview, see McManus (2005). 6. Various strategies have been developed to sustain this argumentative line in the face of very substantial counterevidence. The most commonly used argument is the brainwashing of colonial subjects into aspiring to emulate their rulers. The present-day discussion of Macaulay’s 1835 ‘Minute on Education’ will use it to explain why Bengali intellectuals should have opposed the British strategy to introduce ‘classical’, i.e. Sanskrit, education into the curriculum of Indian schools and should have petitioned for a full-scale English curriculum taught in English (see Bannerjee 2016). Other lines of argument have extended the meaning of ‘power’ to include the ‘verbal violence’ of discursive rules (in the wake of Foucault’s arguments) that left even people who were not under colonial rule ( Japan, China) no way out but to think in the manner determined by the dominant discourse controlled by the strongest political powers in the world. This argument had been developed by Walter Mignolo to advocate ‘epistemic disobedience’ (Mignolo 2009). 7. There are cases of extreme pressure to accept a cultural change such as that exerted by the Spanish inquisition to convert to Catholicism after the Reconquista and during the Counter-Reformation. 35

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8. 9. 10.





Even in this case, however, the ultimate agency of the victims of these measures to convert or not was accepted, and the emigration of many Spanish Jews who refused to convert shows that both sides agreed on this point. For the reception of this story, see Cohen (2009). A variant of this performance had the same type of inscriptions, but a mannequin with the features of a Chinese man in place of the pig. See the eager appropriation of ‘primitive art’ from Africa and Oceania by modern artists ranging from Picasso and Giacometti to the German Expressionists as documented in the New York Museum of Modern Art 1984 exhibition, ‘“Primitivism” in twentieth century Art. The Affinity of the Tribal and the Modern’. See Juneja, in this volume. Such as the Chinese late-Qing theory that Western learning was superior in the practical field and this section should be adopted, while Chinese political values were superior and should continue to form the ‘substance’. Associated with Zhang Zhidong, this theory already was a defensive attempt to maintain Chinese identity at a time when calls for all-out reform were becoming louder. A classical form of this is the argument that Western science, technology and political institutions have their ultimate origin in Chinese antiquity, an argument popular among some late Qing reformers who looked for a way to support the introduction of Western-style reforms while maintaining the belief in the ultimate superiority of Chinese culture. The classical study on this is Quan Hansheng 全漢升 (1935). This is the line of argument taken by Chinese opponents of the ‘new culture movement’ who were followers of Irving Babbitt and formed a ‘conservative’ current associated Liang Shiqiu and the journal Xueheng (see Zhu Shoutong 2004; Hon 2015). Wei Yuan 魏源, Haiguo tuzhi 海國圖志, n.p.: Guweitang, 1844, writes: Nowadays, if Chinese are involved in translating foreign books, imitating barbarian skills, and briefing themselves on the foreign situation in the same way as the foreigners spy on all aspects of our situation, these people will be punished for committing crimes, causing trouble, and communicating with foreigners (quoted in Leonard 1984: 102).

Wei Yuan’s own world geography was a first and daring effort to overcome this hurdle. 15. Wang Yunwu, the editor-in-chief of China’s largest publishing house during the Republican period, the Commercial Press in Shanghai, claimed as an example that all the new calques of Western terms created in Japan with Chinese characters already existed in Chinese antiquity (Wang Yunwu 1997 [1944]). 16. Developments in Taiwan are not included here. Newspaper development there took another track, beginning only after the Qing had ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895, and continuing with a Republican Party (Guomindang) party press after 1945 until liberalization started in the late 1980s. 17. The formula is that of the British army’s Commander-in-Chief Viscount Garnet Wolseley in the late 1890s. He had been involved in the treaty negotiations to end the Arrow War (Wolseley 1895: 420). For this ‘victor’s dilemma’ in asymmetrical relations, see Wagner 2017. 18. The North China Herald had already appeared at the time in Shanghai, but Feng did not read a foreign language and the readership was still nearly exclusively foreign. 19. To fill the picture, authors writing in the 1880s and 1890s were supplementing the lacking features of the Three Dynasties – such as a high development of technology – by arguing that the technical refinement of Shang Dynasty bronzes and jades was evidence of high technical sophistication at the time, but that in the downward drift of Imperial China, these achievements had all been forgotten. 20. There was no Chinese conceptual apparatus ready to articulate the constituents of this Western modernization ‘package’ so that, based on translations into Chinese and Japanese (where translation terms were marked by being written with Chinese characters, which made for an easy adoption in China), an entire new set of key terms or key concepts together with a vast number of technical terms in the sciences and social sciences had to be developed in another segment of the ‘massive translation (Before 1900, the Shenbao was very circumspect in the use of new terms. If it did use them, such as ‘newspaper’ and ‘parliament’, it explained their meaning and purpose in detail.) This was not the end. ‘Culture’ was a part of this Western modernization package, and as the package became accepted its contents expanded even beyond the Spencer-type ingredients to include items that might have been considered utterly marginal in the beginning, such as ‘aesthetic education’, archaeology, public manners or women’s education. 21. An amazing number of authorial prefaces in books published by the Shenbaoguan went out of their way to thank Major for his commitment to Chinese culture and the preservation of its heritage. 36

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22. By the early twentieth century, the role of the foreigners was largely taken over by Chinese. Shanghai and, to a much smaller degree, other treaty ports, however, continued to dominate as the places where the vast majority of Chinese-language papers were published even after the end of the Qing and the beginning of the Republic in 1912. In addition, many Chinese-language papers continued to retain a nominal foreign editor and had themselves registered in Delaware in the United States as “Delaware corporations” for additional protection from government interference. 23. However, the distrust of the reliability of many Chinese papers among the public remained. Foreignlanguage papers were given greater credence, buttressed by better access to international news (only very few Chinese-language papers subscribed to wire services such as Reuters or Agence France Press) and even to the various Chinese governments, but mostly because it was assumed that they adhered more strictly to professional journalistic standards. The majority of the readers of Western-language Chinese papers and journals such as Millard’s Review of the China Critic had Chinese as their mother tongue. 24. The standard narrative in Fang Hanqi 方漢奇 (1981).

Bibliography Akerlof, G. A. (1970) ‘The market for “lemons”: quality uncertainty and the market mechanism author’, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 84(3): 488–500. Bannerjee, M. (2016) ‘Postcolonialism and American studies. Beyond daffodils and blue eyes’, in A. Dallmann, E. Boesenberg and M. Klepper (eds) Approaches to American Cultural Studies, New York: Routledge, 221–29. Baudouin, J. Y. and Tiberghien, G. (2004) ‘Symmetry, averageness, and feature size in the facial attractiveness of women’, Acta Physiologiae Plantarum, 117: 313–22. Brady, A. M. (2007) Marketing Dictatorship: Propaganda and Thought Work in Contemporary China, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publisher. Chong, J. L. (2009) ‘Breaking up is hard to do: foreign intervention and the limiting of fragmentation in the late Qing and early republic, 1893–1922’, Twentieth Century China, 35(1): 75–98. Cohen, P. (2009) Speaking to History: The Story of King Goujian in Twentieth-Century China, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Fang Hanqi 方漢奇 (1981) Zhongguo jindai baokan shi 中國近代報刊史, Taiyuan: Shanxi renmin chubanshe, many reprints. Ge Gongzhen 戈公振 (1928) Zhongguo baoxue shi, Shanghai: Shangwu yinshuguan. Gombrich, E. H. (1982) The Image and the Eye. Further Studies in the Psychology of Pictorial Representation, London: Phaidon. ——. (1984) The Sense of Order, London: Phaidon. Hon, T. (2015) The Allure of the Nation: The Cultural and Historical Debates in Late Qing and Republican China, Leiden and Boston: Brill. Jan, Y. N. and Jan, L. Y. (1999) ‘Asymmetry across species’, Nature Cell Biology, 1: E42–E44. King, F. H. H. and Clarke, P. (1965) A Research Guide to China Coast Newspapers 1822–1911, Cambridge: East Asia Research Center. Kowner, R. (1996) ‘Facial asymmetry and attractiveness judgement in developmental perspective’, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 22: 662–75. Leonard, J. K. (1984) Wei Yuan and China’s Discovery of the Maritime World, Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Lightfoot, G. and Wisniewski, T. P. (2014) ‘Information asymmetry and power in a surveillance society’, Information and Organization, 24(4): 214–35. Lin Yutang (1936) A History of the Press and Public Opinion in China, Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Lomkins, T. J. and Kotiaho, J. S. (2001) Fluctuating Asymmetry, London: Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Mack, A. J. R. (1975) ‘Why big nations lose small wars. The politics of asymmetric conflict’, World Politics, 27(2): 175–200. McManus, I. C. (2005) ‘Symmetry and asymmetry in aesthetics and the arts’, European Review, 13(2): 157–80. Mauss, M. (1923–1924) ‘Essai sur le don. Forme et raison de l’échange dans les sociétés primitives’, Année Sociologique, seconde série. n.p. 37

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Mignolo, W. (2009) ‘Epistemic disobedience, independent thought and decolonial freedom’, Theory, Culture & Society, 26(7–8): 1–23. Quan Hansheng 全漢昇 (1935) ‘Qing mo de Xixue yuanchu Zhongguo shuo’ 清末的 ‘西學源出中國' 說 [The late Qing theory that ‘Western learning originally came from China’], Lingnan xuebao, 6: 57–102. Rahman-Steinert, U. (2004) Xu Bing in Berlin: Sprachräume; Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, 27 May– 1 August 2004, Berlin. Said, E. (1978) Orientalism, New York: Pantheon. Saxton, G. D. and Anker, A. E. (2013) ‘The aggregate effects of decentralized knowledge production: financial bloggers and information asymmetries in the stock market’, Journal of Communication, 63(6): 1054–69. Thornhill, G. and Randy, S. W. (2008) The Evolutionary Biology of Human Female Sexuality, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Vittinghoff, N. (2002) Die Anfänge des Journalismus in China (1860–1911), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Wagner, R. G. (2012) ‘Don’t mind the gap. The foreign-language press in Late Qing and Republican China’, China Heritage Quarterly, 30/31. Online. Available www.chinaheritagequarterly.org/features. php?searchterm=030_wagner.inc&issue=030 (accessed 16 August 2017). ——. (2017) ‘ “Dividing up the [Chinese] Melon, guafen 瓜分”: The Fate of a Transcultural Metaphor in the Formation of National Myth’, Transcultural Studies, 1: 9–122. Online. Available https://heiup.uniheidelberg.de/journals/index.php/transcultural/article/view/23700/17430 (accessed 28 April 2017). ——. (2018) ‘The free flow of communication between high and low: the Shenbao as platform for Yangwu discussions on political reform 1872–1895’, T’oung Pao, 104(1–3): 116–88. Wang Yunwu 王雲五 (1944) ‘Xinmingci suyuan’ 新名詞溯源 (Tracking the origins of the new terms), in Wang, Y (1997) Jiuxue xintan 舊學新談 (New explorations on old themes), Shanghai: Xuelin, 261–75. Wolseley, V. (1895) ‘China and Japan’, The Cosmopolitan, 18(4): 417–23. Yeh, C. V. (2015) ‘Recasting the Chinese novel: Ernest Major’s Shenbao Publishing House (1872–1890)’, Transcultural Studies, 1: 171–289. Online. Available http://journals.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/index.php/trans cultural/article/view/22205/16614#_ftn6 (accessed 28 April 2017). Zhu Shoutong (2004) ‘Chinese reactions to Babbitt’, Humanitas, 17(1–2): 26–46.


3 Global connections in transcultural research Thoughts from a historian’s perspective Roland Wenzlhuemer

Connections and the connected In this chapter I argue that the conceptual understanding of the term ‘connection’ in transcultural research should be amended. Global connections are mediators that themselves have an impact on that which is connected. The latter must not be mistaken for the connection itself. In order to identify mediating potential, connections and the connected need to be considered in tandem. Furthermore, connections exist in the plural and gain their mediating potential in relation to other forms of connections and disconnections. Such an integrated concept of connections will allow us to look at processes of exchange and interaction from a fresh perspective. In the last four decades or so, the concept of culture in the humanities has undergone at least two significant phases of transformation. In the course of what has often simplistically been called the ‘cultural turn’, the idea of what culture is began to change in the 1970s and 1980s. The term was reinterpreted in the sense that culture did not merely refer to a canon of valuable and widely representative expressions of ‘high culture’, but became a denominator for shared ‘webs of significance’ (Geertz 1973) in a more general regard. This first shift in meaning already contained the seed for the second conceptual adjustment that started to gain more and more momentum in the last two decades. Jettisoning a ‘high culture’ understanding of the term at the same time freed culture from a national straightjacket. Approaching the concept as ‘webs of significance’, as shared meaning in a broader sense, put the spotlight on new questions: where does one culture end and another culture start (see Maran, in this volume)? What happens when different cultures come into contact? Or, how does culture change? Over time, an understanding of culture as a largely self-contained and stable unit proved to be unsuitable for the study of such issues. More and more, researchers in the humanities started to think of culture as highly dynamic, constituted by interaction, circulation and reconfiguration. From this perspective, culture is constantly changing, moving, adapting – and it is doing this through contact and exchange beyond real or perceived borders. This is one of the principal assumptions of transcultural studies. 39

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In the last decades, this strain of research has examined the border-crossing movements of people, things or ideas; different forms of cultural transfers; a host of cultural contact zones (see Firges and Graf and Grüner, all in this volume), acts of translation (see Flüchter and Tontini in this volume) and cultural brokerage (see Jaspert in this volume), to give just a few eclectic examples. In historical research, for instance, several new fields have emerged that explicitly focus on the history of cultural transfers (Espagne and Werner 1988); on entangled history (Epple et al. 2011; Randeria 1999; Randeria and Conrad 2002; Subrahmanyam 1997); histoire croisée (Werner and Zimmermann 2006); or transcultural history (Herren-Oesch et al. 2012). These and several other neighbouring approaches build on the significance of cross-cultural contacts in history. They come together under the umbrella of global history, which is, if we follow some of the leading researchers in the field, interested mainly in global connections and comparisons (Bayly 2004; Conrad 2013: 9; O’Brien 2006: 4). The two terms are fundamentally different in scope. For the historical sciences, comparison, be it global or not, is a method. It is an instrument of enquiry.1 This leaves global or transregional connections as the principal objects of study of the field. Global history asks how such connections were created by historical actors and how they in turn influenced them in their actions and their perception of the world. Connections provide the building blocks for the phenomena of contact and exchange typically studied by historians in the field. It is a truism that some sort of connection is a precondition for all forms of exchange and interaction. When people, things or ideas move, what they do is create a connection – sometimes fragile, sometimes more stable – between their origin(s) and their destination. In short, global history is interested in the significance of transregional connections in history. Accordingly, connection as a term is in wide and prominent use in historical research. Connections are recognized as key elements in concepts such as transfers, entanglements or contact zones,2 all of which have seen a fair share of theorizing in the last decades. Often, however, the term is employed in a descriptive rather than an analytical manner and our conceptual understanding of transregional connections as the fundamental components of global exchange and interaction remains rudimentary. So far, too little attention has been given to a more systematic and conceptually informed evaluation of the term. What is a connection? And, even more importantly, what is a global or transregional connection? How do local and global connections differ analytically? How do connections become historically potent phenomena? Do connections have a time and a space of their own? And building on this, where is their place in history? Finally, how do they relate to that which is connected? Issues such as these implicitly inform many studies in global history, but have rarely been addressed in a systematic fashion. This lack of a feasible conceptual approach is a consequence of our perspective on connections. We usually think of connections mainly in terms of the people, places or things that they bring in touch with each other. In practice, we conceptualize connections from their endpoints. Rather than about the connection itself, we think about that which is connected. It is there that we look for effects of contact and exchange. If researchers in this context have spoken about the ‘inbetween’ or some form of ‘third space’ (Bhabha 1994), what they meant was usually the result of a connection, of being in touch. The connection itself is part of the picture, but remains in the background. We see it as an intermediary in the sense of actor-network theory, an enabler that brings its endpoints in touch but does not create or transform meaning by itself (Latour 2005). I suggest that this way of thinking about connections should be amended. In order to better gauge the historical significance of transregional connections, we will have to think of connections as mediators rather than mere intermediaries, to stay in the terminology of actor-network theory. For Bruno Latour, ‘[m]ediators transform, translate, 40

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distort, and modify the meaning or the elements they are supposed to carry’ (Latour 2005: 39). This is what connections always do. They do not merely bring their endpoints in contact, they interject themselves between that which is connected and thereby gain a strong bearing on the interaction. Connections have temporal and spatial dimensions of their own. While these dimensions can be of different degrees, they turn connections into sociocultural arenas in which things happen; in which people can feel, think and act; in which the relationship and interaction between their endpoints is negotiated. Thinking of connections as intermediaries means to treat them as relatively lifeless links, while that which is connected merits all analytical attention. However, if we conceive of connections as mediators, we will have to recalibrate our focus. We will have to look more directly at that which connects; that which happens in-between, during the communication process, between the endpoints. Connections should be seen as historical phenomena in their own right. At the same time, however, we must not lose sight of that which is connected. An exclusive focus on the connection itself would deprive it of its principal quality. Thus, we need to consider connections and that which is connected in tandem and in constant mutual reference. What is more, connections develop their historical significance in the plural. They become meaningful and gain their mediating potential in reference or difference to other connections or disconnections. In the following I will refer to examples from my own research to illustrate why historians together with their colleagues from other humanities disciplines should turn their attention from that which is connected to the connection itself. I will briefly discuss the role of intercontinental steamship passages and of telegraphic communication in the context of nineteenth-century processes of globalization. The steamer and the telegraph are both emblematic technologies in this regard. In their time, they greatly facilitated the global movement of people, things and information. They made these flows cheaper and quicker. In historical research, they are usually (and rightly) treated as important new connectors that brought about a thorough transformation of global space in the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. What is often forgotten, however, is that the channels that both these technologies provided – the steamship passage and the telegraphic message – deserve to be studied as historical arenas in their own right. In the following it shall be demonstrated why, by showing how they as particular forms of connections shaped the connected.

Global connections exemplified The maritime field carries great significance for global history approaches. Regional and transregional connections, most importantly in the form of ship passages, are key elements of study for maritime historians. Often, however, maritime history’s main focus has rested on the ends of the passage. It has been concerned with that which is connected rather than with the connections themselves. For instance, the field has a longstanding interest in port cities3 as archetypical contact zones and melting pots. They are seminal portals of global migration, trade and intellectual exchange and, thus, ideally suited to study what happens when different cultures get in touch. If one wants to widen this scope and incorporate port cities in a broader regional context, maritime history has introduced the notion of the seascape that refers to a region connected across the sea (Bentley et al. 2007; Reinwald and Deutsch 2002). Fernand Braudel’s idea of the Mediterranean world has provided inspiration here (Braudel 1949). In recent decades, the Atlantic world (Armitage and Braddick 2002; Gilroy 2002; Linebaugh and Rediker 2000; O’Rourke and Williamson 1999; Rediker 2004) and the Indian Ocean rim (Bose 2006; Larson 2009; McPherson 1993; Ray and Alpers 2007; Vink 2007) have also been studied from 41

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a similar perspective. Both port cities as well as the seascapes that they are part of are products of myriad connections that originate or terminate there. This has, of course, been duly acknowledged in research.4 Nevertheless, the focus of such research has often remained on ocean littorals, on liminal spaces and contact zones that arise from transoceanic connections. Ship passages have for long been studied as enabling factors that bring A and B together, but rarely as arenas of study in themselves. Despite the defining role of global connections for the field, even in maritime history attention has concentrated on origin and destination, on start and end of the process. In recent decades, however, maritime history has seen attempts to recalibrate its analytical focus. In several subfields and in particular in the context of studies on the maritime slave trade, more attention has been paid to the ship itself. Seaborne historical actors – sailors, pirates or slaves – and their lives on board of a ship have slowly come to the fore.5 These studies have identified the ship as a distinct historical environment and the passage as formative for the historical actors. Ship passages have pronounced spatial and temporal dimensions defined by the space of the ship and the time of the passage. This makes it easier to see how the connection and that which is connected must not be confused or conflated. Even during the heyday of steam shipping, long-distance ship passages took time. In the late nineteenth century, a bundle of technological innovations had dramatically shortened the duration of a passage from, say, Europe to India. But still, passengers and crew had to spend at least three to four weeks on board a steamship on this route before they would arrive at, for instance, Bombay. Although substantially shorter, crossing the Atlantic by steamer also took about 10 days. This time on board was not ‘dead’ or ‘empty’, nor did people simply put their lives on ‘stand-by’ (Wenzlhuemer and Offermann 2012: 79–80): such assumptions merely reinforce a terra-centric notion that the only meaningful history – with the exceptions of battles or mutinies – occurs on land. Rather, as passengers, steerage and crew shared the confined space of the ship during transit, and interaction and exchange became practically unavoidable. Regardless of class and station, shipboard bodies were exposed to new and often deeply uncomfortable experiences (Pietsch 2010); social networks and even cultures were formed within the community of the ship, in many cases outliving the duration of the journey; isolated physically from land, ships became spaces of potential transgression as well as conformity. Therefore, the space and time of the passage provide an arena of transit in which we can study the connection as a mediator. For passengers and crew alike, the time spent on board was formative in many respects. The distinctness of the transit and its significance regarding the perception of origin and destination comes to life in many contemporary commentaries on steamship travel. During his time as a colonial official in British-controlled Egypt, Lord Edward Cecil compiled a number of stories depicting the lighter side of life in colonial service. Published posthumously in 1921, The Leisure of an Egyptian Official is a compilation of episodes giving an insight into Cecil’s daily routine. The book also contains a longer passage entitled ‘Going on Leave’ in which the author describes how he prepares for going on leave to England. Cecil travelled from Cairo to Port Said where he embarked a steamer of the Island and Far East line calling there on its way from Asia to England. Cecil writes: If an Englishman is in a railway carriage or a steamer or a hotel, he immediately regards it as his own, and is prepared to discourage or even resist any trespassers to the utmost of his powers. One is never more acutely aware of this than when one joins a steamer en route. As [we] crush forward up the ladder, we are greeted by a hum of muffled disapproval from passengers above on deck. I can hear portions of frank opinions which are obviously hostile to our travelling by this steamer anyway. [. . .] I hear a clear female voice say, ‘Well, thank 42

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goodness, there are only a dozen of them’. To which another answers, ‘Yea but I suppose we shall hear nothing but mafish and malesh now. Why cannot they go by one of their own lines?’ These are obviously Anglo-Indians. We in Egypt profess to despise AngloIndians as people who are out of touch with Europe and essentially provincial, whilst they, on the other hand, talk with contempt of our size and village politics. One method of showing this lofty hostility is to pretend not to understand anything about the others’ country or language. (Cecil 1984: 259–60) Throughout his memories, Cecil continues to reflect upon the social world encountered on his steamship travels. He mocks his cabin neighbours – ‘a drab-coloured Indian lady’ who looked ‘alarmed’ and immediately called the stewards ‘to lock her cabin up, as there are dreadful-looking people on board’ (Cecil 1984: 259–60) – and he frequently remarks on the relations between crew and passengers on board steamships. Accustomed to being treated with respect as a member of the colonial administration, Cecil was more than irritated to find passengers being ‘regarded as a sort of unsavoury pest with which a ship becomes infected whilst lying in port’ by many of the ship’s officers (Cecil 1984: 260–1). Even if we acknowledge that Cecil used exaggeration as a stylistic device to enhance ‘the amusement of his family’ (Cecil 1984: 5) for whom the memories were compiled, his observations clearly show that the steamship constituted a social world in its own right. It was a microcosm in which people of different social, cultural and professional backgrounds met, interacted, clashed and sought to secure their places during a long journey. Another instructive comment on the sociocultural significance of steamship passages comes from the autobiography of Leonard Woolf, husband of Virginia Woolf, who served as a civil servant in Ceylon for seven years in the early twentieth century. He wrote about the start of his outward journey on the P. & O. liner Syria: Within the boat there was the uncomfortable atmosphere of suspicion and reserve which is at first invariably the result when a number of English men and women, strangers to one another, find that they have to live together for a time in a train, a ship, a hotel. In those days it took, if I remember rightly, three weeks to sail from London to Colombo. By the time we reached Ceylon, we had developed from a fortuitous concourse of isolated human atoms into a complex community with an elaborate system of castes and classes. The initial suspicion and reserve had soon given place to intimate friendships, intrigues, affairs, passionate loves and hates. (Woolf 1961: 12) Interestingly, the quote shares some of the imagery of Cecil’s comment on shipboard life. And it is even more explicit as to the sociocultural transformations that occurred during such a week-long passage. Beyond bringing origin and destination in contact by enabling the intercontinental mobility, the connection – here in the form of the ship passage – constituted a distinct historical environment with its very own spatial and temporal parameters. In this way, the ship passage is a mediator rather than a mere intermediary. Ship passages usually existed in reference to or difference from other forms of global connections and disconnections. Telegraph cables, for instance, often ran parallel to shipping routes. Railways linked port cities to the hinterland. Or radio waves ‘whispered’ across the ocean (Wenzlhuemer 2016). Ship passages were embedded in a plurality of connections. This becomes particularly tangible when we examine the different – and seemingly paradox – ways 43

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in which the people on board related to the world during such a passage. On the one hand, the ship, by the movement it provided for the people, goods and information that it carried, created global connections. Ship passages were thus important constituents of globality and globalization. On the other hand, however, the ship was an isolated place during the open sea passage. Its connection with the rest of the world was thin and fragile. Before wireless technology became available on steamers, the only outside contact was short exchanges with other passing ships. And even with the advent of wireless telegraphy, the link to the world proved to be of low capacity and prone to different kinds of disturbances, as shall soon be seen in the example at hand. Passengers and crew on long-distance ocean crossings thus created global connections by their movements, while at the same time their own contact to the outside world depended on a changing combination of connection (e.g. by wireless) and disconnections (e.g. due to isolation at sea). Due to its pronounced spatial and temporal dimensions and its embeddedness in a plurality of connections, long-distance ship passages underline how the connection itself needs to be reconceptualized if we want to understand how global connections impacted the course of history. Looking at ship passages, the significance of the connection itself becomes clearly visible. Shifting our attention to the telegraph, I will try to support this from a different angle. Historians of technology and later researchers in global history have devoted a fair share of work to the telegraph. Again, they were mostly interested in that which was connected by the telegraph, not in the connection itself. They focused on the emergence of the network, its structure, its nodes, and identified centres and peripheries in the communicative space created by the telegraph. The mediating powers of the connection have so far received little attention. The idea of sending information with the help of electricity has been around since the mideighteenth century. It took until the 1830s and early 1840s for the technology to mature and to find a suitable field of application in the control of railways. Building on tremendous advances in the understanding of electricity, Samuel Morse and Alfred Vail in the United States, as well as William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone in the United Kingdom, first publicly demonstrated their fully functioning telegraph instruments in the year 1837. Their designs had been developed independently from each other and employed different methods of encoding and decoding information. Both models, however, used an electromagnetic device to detect electric current. Morse and Vail demonstrated their telegraph in a New York classroom, yet needed another five years to finally convince Congress to fund a first line between Washington and Baltimore. Cooke and Wheatstone exhibited their apparatus along a stretch of a London railway track. But just like Morse and Vail, they also needed years to persuade railway companies to let them build telegraph lines along their tracks. When these first non-experimental telegraph lines eventually opened in the United States and in Great Britain in the early 1840s, they soon proved to be efficient and useful. Both countries were gripped by a telegraph mania that lasted at least for the rest of the 1840s and the 1850s. Reasonably tight national telegraph networks started to emerge during this time – first in the United States6 and the United Kingdom,7 but soon in other, mostly European countries as well. Early in this process, first steps at the internationalization of the system were taken. In 1851, England and France were successfully linked by a submarine telegraph cable across the Channel. In the following years, other cables between the British Isles and mainland Europe followed. In 1865, Europe for the first time came into direct telegraphic contact with India. And a year later, the transatlantic cable connection – that had already been working for a few weeks in 1858 – was eventually established for good.8 The telegraph network had practically gone global.9 44

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The reason for this rapid expansion after a phase of technological inertia (Mokyr 1992) was that telegraphy had proved to be efficient and useful for several groups of historical actors. The business community was among the first to benefit from telegraphic communication. But the military and the administration also partook of telegraphy – especially, of course, in an imperial context when large distances needed to be covered. The original momentum, however, with which the initial inertia had been overcome had, at least in Britain, come from the railways. There, Cooke had eventually been able to convince the Great Western Railway company to let him expand the telegraph along their tracks from Paddington to the town of Slough near Windsor. Cooke paid all expenses out of his own pocket and was finally gratified with the public and financial success of the line. In turn, however, the Great Western – and later the London & Blackwall Railway – also benefitted greatly from the telegraph, which proved incredibly useful for the management of ‘ancillary single lines where traffic did not justify double track, by enabling them to be operated safely and efficiently’ (Kieve 1973: 33). It was this fruitful symbiosis between the railway and the telegraph that, among other factors, triggered the expansion of the telegraph network in the 1840s and 1850s, and that best illustrates the principal new quality in communication that the telegraph had brought about. The telegraph transformed the relation between communication and transport through the dematerialization10 of long-distance information flows. The technology made it possible to encode information in immaterial electric impulses that could then be sent along a conductor – usually a wire or a set of wires. Technically, the dematerialization of information transmission led to the detachment of the movement of information from the movement of people, animals or things, all of which consist of matter and, therefore, adhere to certain rules of material movement. In short, it led to the large-scale detachment of communication from material transport.11 The fact that telegraphy achieved its technological breakthrough in the United Kingdom courtesy of the railways stands testimony to the significance of this detachment. The separation of communication and transport had great implications regarding the potential speed of communication and it also had a strong bearing on the more general nature of communication. The telegraph transmitted information as a series of electric impulses. Code systems had to be developed that allowed for the transmission of information. Both Morse and needle code used the Roman alphabet as its basis. The latter could not even accommodate all letters in its first versions. In any case, Roman letters were associated with combinations of impulses that first needed to be encoded and later decoded. Ergo, a plain-text piece of information that needed to be transmitted (and had thus already been encoded in language and even letters) had to be further encoded in a series of electric impulses. In doing so, only the plain letters could be transmitted. Nothing more, nothing less. Any additional information resting in, for instance, the handwriting, manual corrections, notes in the margin or the kind of paper used (to name really but a few possible examples) was lost. Even more importantly, the relatively complicated encoding of letters in electric impulses produced lengthy impulse patterns even if only a short message was to be transmitted. This clogged up the wires and, as a consequence, was very expensive for the sender. Therefore, the telegraph rewarded brevity in expression. The information to be sent should be to the point, stripped of linguistic ornaments and unnecessary remarks. Grammar and punctuation were mostly thrown overboard. In international business correspondence, code books were compiled that added one more layer of encoding to the relation between data and information. In the widely used ABC Telegraphic Code, for instance, the word Aigulet translated as ‘Is not likely to affect you in any manner’ (Clauson-Thue 1881: 13), and Bluster meant ‘The boxes were delivered in bad order’ (ibid.: 41). In this way, very complex messages could be packed into only a few words so that transmission was swift and relatively cheap. On the other hand, 45

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however, all meaning beyond this standardized content was lost. A widely used booklet of guidelines about the composition of telegrams says: Naturally, there is a right way and a wrong way of wording telegrams. The right way is economical, the wrong way, wasteful. If the telegram is packed full of unnecessary words, words which might be omitted without impairing the sense of the message, the sender has been guilty of economic waste. (Ross 1928) Both the transmission time and the cost of a telegram increase with its length and, therefore, being concise was important. Such rewards for brevity naturally impacted on the language used in telegrams. Messages often were short to the point of impoliteness but usually were not perceived as impolite as everyone involved in sending and receiving telegrams knew about their conversational limitations. Conciseness was considered more important than the established protocol which was suspended for telegrams.12 Due to the real or perceived need for brevity in telegraphic communication, often only very isolated pieces of information were chosen for transmission. These were completely stripped from any qualifying context. The telegraph and its particular rationale, therefore, pushed the decontextualization of information to hitherto unknown degrees. Only single selected pieces of information would be transmitted at a very high speed and then be re-contextualized by the recipient, while further qualifying information might either not come at all or only arrive days or weeks later, for instance, in a letter. All of this is to say that the telegraph was a mediator between the places it brought in touch rather than a mere intermediary. Telegraphic connections were embedded in a plurality of other connections and unfolded their significance in relation to those. A well-known example from mid-nineteenth-century British India can serve to illustrate this: the so-called telegraph fraud. In India, first steps towards the establishment of a domestic telegraph network had already been taken in the early 1850s. While its size and reliability remained limited well into the 1860s, the network was soon put to use in transregional business operations – sometimes in particularly creative (and illegal) ways, as the case of a ‘telegraph fraud’ occurring in India around that time illustrates. Quoting from the Bombay Gazette of 27 February 1861, Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper on 31 March 1861 reported on The Telegraph Frauds in India where ‘[a] few speculators in opium have caused messages to be most grossly falsified whilst passing through the wires between Galle and Bombay’. Apparently, two telegraph signallers, George Pecktall and William Allen, who had both been dismissed from service in the Indian telegraph office, had been approached by dubious speculators and hired to find a way to interfere with the telegraph system. Pecktall and Allen obliged, somehow managed to obtain a battery and signalling apparatus, ‘and proceeded to a spot in the immediate vicinity of the village Beebee chawaddee, about four or five miles off at the foot of the Katruj Ghaut, over which the telegraph wire from Sattar passes’. There, they cut the telegraph wire and inserted their own apparatus into the circuit which enabled them to intercept messages and forward them in falsified form. The messages concerned dealt with opium prices and ‘enormous sums of money were alleged to be made by the parties in the secret’.13 Despite the fact that the telegraph line had been temporarily disrupted and that suspiciously high profits were made, the fraud was only discovered when full information on opium prices reached Bombay by steamer from Galle.14 This brief example emphasizes the consequences that the radical de-contextualization of information could have. The capacity and code limitations of the telegraph influenced the choice of information that was to be transmitted. Stock and commodity prices were usually wired in the most concise form possible: the name of the company or good(s) and its price in figures. This 46

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practice obliged both the requirements of the telegraph and of the business community whose members were interested in the fast transmission of the quotes. Therefore, next to no general economic context was transmitted between Galle and Bombay by telegraph. From the vast body of information and knowledge available at Galle, only a very specific selection of quantifiable information was communicated to Bombay telegraphically. There, the recipients had practically no means to check and verify this rudimentary information. More extensive background reports were sent to India in letters, but these arrived only quite some time after the telegrams. For the moment, the only available knowledge context for the price information to be integrated into was the experiences, assumptions, expectations and beliefs of the Bombay merchant community. The fake price information amalgamated with the existing knowledge about markets, commodities and the Galle opium trade to create a body of knowledge vastly different from that existing at Galle. The telegraph could provide no additional information that could have contributed to the earlier detection of the scam. Quite the contrary, it seems reasonable to assume that the fact that the falsified opium prices have been delivered by telegraph lent them particular credibility as this was the medium of choice of the business community and, of course, was held in high esteem by those who were affluent enough to use it. That two telegraph operators with next to no experience in the financial or merchant business could tamper with the telegraphic messages at all has its reasons in the concise nature of electric communication as well. It would have been much harder to alter economic background information in a meaningful way that would not arouse suspicion with the Bombay merchants. Bare price figures, however, could be tampered with rather easily and quickly. Only single code signs needed to be altered – there was no in-built control mechanism such as a broader context that could have revealed the falsification. Of course, almost all channels of communication can be manipulated in one way or the other – directly or indirectly so. In the case of the telegraph, however, interception and falsification was particularly easy and successful as the decontextualized information on the wire travelled so much faster than the context. In addition, the telegrams carried the meta-information of accuracy and timeliness. All of this combined to present the forged information as particularly palatable to the Bombay recipients. The example of the telegraph fraud in British India illustrates quite clearly how the connections provided by the telegraph did much more than just bring two places, in this case Galle and Bombay, in touch. The nature of the connection impacted on what could be said and what could not be said. It was relevant for how people would communicate over great distances, which topics they chose to talk about and which information they privileged. In this way, the technology unfolded a much more complicated influence on communication than merely speeding it up. It was significant for the interpretation of the contents. The connection served as an intermediary that shaped the relation between origin and destination. The example also highlights how connections always need to be considered in the plural. The telegraph provided an additional channel of communication that rather complemented than superseded established forms of information exchange such as letter writing.15 It attracted users with specific communicational purposes who were prepared to pay relatively high rates, while other content was almost entirely left to the existing media. In short, the new system was integrated into an existing system of communication and transport technologies and had to relate to those. It constituted one among many means of exchanging information.

Conceptualizing connections in transcultural research Both examples have been taken from historical research. They highlight from different angles the significance of the specific nature of a connection. What has been demonstrated in a 47

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historical context with a focus on key technologies of globalization holds true for transcultural research in general as well. In a broad sense, transcultural research is interested in what happens when different cultures come into contact. In this regard, it is centrally concerned with the connections between these cultures and their relevance for the lives of the people. From a conceptual viewpoint, connections are the single smallest elements in this regard. Drawing on metaphors, we can think of them as either the atoms of transcultural research or as the lowest common denominator of the other conceptual terms already introduced above. The notions of cultural transfer, entanglements, contact zones or even networks all build on cross-cultural connections as their principal elements and assign them a particular socio-cultural role. It follows that a precise understanding of what we mean by transcultural connections is indispensable. What is a connection and when does it become transcultural? How is it established and how can it be maintained? What are its spatio-temporal characteristics and how do they give a specific connection its particular character? How and why do transcultural connections work differently than local, inner-cultural connections? Why are acts of border-crossing, of covering distances etc. so significant in this regard to justify a specific field of research? This and many other questions need to be kept in mind in transcultural research. In practical terms, this amounts to a widening of focus when we study transcultural phenomena. As discussed, currently most research in this regard is concerned with that which is connected, not with the connection itself. Our attention rests on the endpoints of the connections we study. The procedural character of the connection, its own space and its own time remain understudied. To widen our focus means to look at the connection and that which is connected in tandem. It reveals how connections are historical arenas of their own, how they provide a distinct environment for historical actors that differs significantly from other environments (see ship passages), or how they shape the form and interpretation of the exchange (see telegraphy). It also reveals how transcultural connections always exist in the plural and how they derive their particular significance in their relation to other forms of contact and exchange. Ultimately, such a recalibration of the research focus will allow us to be much clearer about the specific quality of transcultural phenomena. After all, we often forget that societies are always products of connections. Humans as social beings depend and thrive on connections, some of them very local and immediate, others more expansive. Social communities are built up by a host of different connections between their members. Thus, the humanities are always concerned with the study of connections, no matter if one makes it explicit or not. Regarding the study of transcultural connections, we must then ask what distinguishes them analytically from other forms of connections. What is special about long-distance or border-crossing connections? How does the act of transgressing a boundary give them a new quality apparently not found in other forms of connections? What on first sight seems to be self-evident, is actually a fundamental conceptual issue in transcultural research. Taking a close and careful look at the connections themselves, examining them as mediators and assessing their role in a plurality of connections is a first and necessary step towards solving this issue.

Notes 1. The suitability of this instrument for the field of global history is not undisputed. The concept of histoire croisée, for instance, doubts that deeply interwoven subject matters can be meaningfully analysed by comparison. 2. For the notion of a contact zone see Pratt (1992). 3. See, for instance, Basu (1985), Broeze (1989, 1997), Fischer and Jarvis (1999) and Hazareesingh (2009). 4. Recently and expertly, for instance, in Miller (2012). 48

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5. Most of these studies have been concerned either with the professional life of the crew, with pirates and pirate life or with the significance of the so-called middle passage in the slave trade. See, for instance, Ashmore (2013), Christopher et al. (2007), Diedrich et al. (1999), Hyslop (2009), Kempe (2010a, 2010b), Linebaugh and Rediker (2000), Rediker (1993, 2007), Smallwood (2007) and Steel (2011). 6. For a comprehensive history of telegraphy in the United States see the recent studies of David Hochfelder (2012) and Richard John (2010). 7. The handiest introduction to the history of the telegraph in a British domestic context still comes from Jeffrey Kieve, while others have examined the different phases of development individually. Barton (2010), Kieve (1973), Perry (1997) and Roberts (n.d.). 8. See, for instance, Holtorf (2013) and Müller-Pohl (2010). 9. See, for instance, Hugill (1999), Winseck and Pike (2007) and Wenzlhuemer (2013). 10. I have discussed the associations that the term ‘dematerialization’ carries and the benefits that applying the term brings elsewhere (Wenzlhuemer 2013). 11. This thought has been pioneered by Carey (1983). 12. Ross’s manual on style in telegrams does, however, mention one proposal to further increase brevity that was not adopted: A man high in American business life has been quoted as remarking that elimination of the word ‘please’ from all telegrams would save the American public millions of dollars annually. Despite this apparent endorsement of such procedure, however, it is unlikely that the public will lightly relinquish the use of this really valuable word. ‘Please’ is to the language of social and business intercourse what art and music are to everyday, humdrum existence. Fortunes might be saved by discounting the manufacture of musical instruments and by closing the art galleries, but no one thinks of suggesting such a procedure. By all means let us retain the word ‘please’ in our telegraphic correspondence. (Ross 1928) 13. ‘The Telegraph Frauds in India’ (1861) Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper, 31 March: 2. 14. In the Abstracts from the Annual Reports of the Superintendents of Circles for the Year 1862–1863, reference was made to the case. ‘On the 24th of January 1863, George Pectall [sic] [. . .] incautiously made some admission as to the party who bribed William Allen and himself to cut the wire in February 1861. With the assistance of the Police, it was ascertained that one Nim Chund Melap Chund, a Marwarree Merchant, was the instigator, and he was convicted in the High Court and sentenced on the 6th April to two years’ imprisonment with hard labour’ (British Library 1863). 15. This is a well-known phenomenon in the history of technology and has, for instance, been discussed in Edgerton (2007).

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Broeze, F. (ed) (1989) Brides of the Sea: Port Cities of Asia from the 16th–20th Centuries, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press. ——. (ed) (1997) Gateways of Asia: Port Cities of Asia in the 13th–20th Centuries, London: Routledge. Carey, J. (1983) ‘Technology and ideology: the case of the Telegraph’, Prospects, 8: 303–25. Cecil, E. (1984) The Leisure of an Egyptian Official, London: Century. Christopher, E., Pybus, C. and Rediker, M. (eds) (2007) Many Middle Passages. Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Clauson-Thue, W. (1881) The ABC Universal Commercial Electric Telegraphic Code (Fourth Edition). Specially Adapted for the Use of Financiers, Merchants, Shipowners, Brokers, Agents, & Co, London: Eden Fisher. Conrad, S. (2013) Globalgeschichte. Eine Einführung, München: C.H. Beck. Diedrich, M., Gates, H. L. and Pedersen, C. (eds) (1999) Black Imagination and the Middle Passage, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edgerton, D. (2007) The Shock of the Old. Technology and Global History Since 1900, New York: Oxford University Press. Epple, A., Kaltmeier, O. and Lindner, U. (eds) (2011) ‘Entangled histories: reflecting on concepts of coloniality and postcoloniality’, Comparativ. Zeitschrift für Globalgeschichte und vergleichende Gesellschaftsforschung, 21 (1): 7–104. Espagne, M. and Werner, M. (eds) (1988) Transferts. Les relations interculturelles dans l’espace franco-allemand (xviiie-xixe siècles), Paris: Éditions Recherche sur les Civilisations. Fischer, L. R. and Jarvis, A. (eds) (1999) Harbours and Havens: Essays in Port History in Honour of Gordon Jackson, St. John’s, NFL: International Maritime Economic History Association. Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures, New York: Basic Books. Gilroy, P. (2002) The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double-Consciousness, London: Verso. Hazareesingh, S. (2009) ‘Interconnected synchronicities: the production of Bombay and Glasgow as modern global ports c. 1850–1880’, Journal of Global History, 4(1): 7–31. Herren-Oesch, M., Rüesch, M. and Sibille, C. (2012) Transcultural History. Theories, Methods, Sources, Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer. Hochfelder, D. (2012) The Telegraph in America 1832–1920, Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press. Holtorf, C. (2013) Der erste Draht zur Neuen Welt. Die Verlegung des transatlantischen Telegrafenkabels, Göttingen: Wallstein. Hugill, P. (1999) Global Communications Since 1844. Geopolitical and Technology, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press. Hyslop, J. (2009) ‘Steamship empire: Asian, African and British sailors in the merchant marine c. 1880–1945’, Journal of Asian and African Studies, 44(1): 49–67. John, R. R. (2010) Network Nation. Inventing American Telecommunications, Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Kempe, M. (2010a) ‘“Even in the remotest corners of the world”: globalized piracy and international law, 1500–1900’, Journal of Global History, 5(3): 353–72. ——. (2010b) Fluch der Weltmeere. Piraterie, Völkerrecht und internationale Beziehungen, 1500–1900, Frankfurt a. M.: Campus. Kieve, J. (1973) The Electric Telegrap. A Social and Economic History, Newton Abbott, UK: David and Charles. Larson, P. (2009) Ocean of Letters: Language and Creolization in an Indian Ocean Diaspora, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Latour, B. (2005) Reassembling the Social – An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Linebaugh, P. and Rediker, M. (2000) The Many-headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, Boston, MA: Beacon Press. McPherson, K. (1993) The Indian Ocean: A History of People and the Sea, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Miller, M. B. (2012) Europe and the Maritime World. A Twentieth Century History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mokyr, J. (1992) ‘Technological inertia in economic history’, Journal of Economic History, 52(2): 325–38. Müller-Pohl, S. (2010) ‘The transatlantic telegraphs and the “Class of 1866” – The formative years of transnational networks in telegraphic space, 1858–1884/89’, Historical Social Research/Historische Sozialforschung, 35(1): 237–59. 50

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4 Not ‘cultures’, but culture! The need for a transcultural perspective in archaeology Joseph Maran

Transcending the bounded view of culture This chapter argues that the discipline of archaeology should replace its traditional concept of culture with one that focuses on the contingency and openness of cultural and historical change. Human communities do not live in isolation, but always perceive themselves as part of a wider world with which they interact. Archaeology then must take an explicitly transcultural perspective – one that transcends the notion of cultures as bounded units of investigation and analyses the results of processes of transculturation during which new knowledge, practices and material forms are generated through encounters and contacts ( Juneja 2011; Juneja and Falser 2013). Such a perspective exchanges the customary model of diffusion for one of translation (Latour 1986: 266–9) in which knowledge and material forms received from the outside are constantly modified and adapted to different contexts. Archaeology has a long tradition of defining cultures as coexisting bounded entities that are each characterized by a recurrent combination of distinctive features of moveable material culture (pottery, weaponry, tools, jewelry etc.), burial customs, building traditions and/or economy (Childe 1929: vi). Based on the distribution of these features, the assumed territories of the cultures are delineated on maps and usually differentiated from each other by use of various colours. That this is a highly impressionist procedure becomes evident considering that rarely are the borders of a specific culture drawn in the same way by two scholars. The archaeological cultures are named after sites (cf. Andronovo culture), regions (cf. Lausitz culture), rivers (cf. Tisza culture), burial habits (cf. Urnfield culture), pottery traits (cf. Linear Pottery culture), stone tools (cf. Battle Axe culture) and sometimes even mythical persons (cf. Minoan culture). Such a substantialist definition of culture as a set of recurrent distinctive features is based on the idea of culture manifesting itself in a widespread supra-regional cultural homogeneity and uniformity of human communities in particular territories, whose members use the same objects, share the same beliefs, act in the same way, and can be set apart through a ‘checklist’ of traits from members of other cultures ( Johnson 1999: 16–20). These cultures are thought to evolve over a certain time, until they disappear and are replaced by other cultures. Ultimately, this definition goes back to the romantic idea of perceiving cultures as collective organisms that 52

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inhabit particular geographic zones and are characterized by a unity of material forms, languages and clearly circumscribed ethnic entities (Völker [‘peoples’]) (Mende 2011: 530–1). Archaeology appropriated this concept of culture from turn-of-the-twentieth-century German cultural– historical ethnography that came to be known as Kulturkreislehre. At that time, German archaeologists, above all Kossinna (1911: 3), gave these ethnographic concepts a new twist by attaching essentialist notions of ethnic and ‘racial’ identity and purity to the differentiated units (Trigger 1996: 235–41; Jones 1997: 15–17; Rebay-Salisbury 2011). While the bounded and representative view of culture has been abandoned in cultural and social anthropology (Hahn 2013: 17–39), it lives on in archaeology, albeit stripped of the alleged ‘racial’ significance that was attached to it before the Second World War. The consequences of the application of a substantialist and bounded concept of culture are far-reaching, as has already been exposed by others (cf. Wotzka 1993; Jones 1997: 15–37; Müller 2001: 38–42; Furholt 2009: 23–5). In trying to demarcate the boundaries of such cultures, the differences between the perceived entities are emphasized and the features that they hold in common minimized. At the same time, by defining a specific culture one has to proceed in the exact opposite way since the degree of uniformity of its material remains is overstressed, thereby excluding the possibility to recognize signs of diversity within communities as well as between communities of a given region. In the diachronic perspective, the fact that the same culture term is used to cover archaeological sources spanning a period of often more than half a millennium fosters the impression of long-term continuity and stability. The differentiation of archaeological cultures coexisting side by side is reminiscent of the territories of modern nation states with which the respective cultures often even share the same borders due to the national organization of archaeological research (Tsirtsoni 2006). In turn, this seeming correspondence between the territories of nation states with the areas of distribution of archaeological cultures serves to reify such modern political entities, since they appear to be anchored in earliest times. Furthermore, as a consequence of the territorial demarcation of archaeological cultures and the emphasis on their distinctiveness, a sharp line of separation is drawn between an ‘inside’ and an ‘outside’. This makes it impossible to recognize that the global can be contained inside the local and vice versa, and thus to adequately consider the impact of transculturality on cultural change. Finally, even if Kossinna’s equation of cultures with ethnic or ‘racial’ entities is rejected, it is difficult to avoid charging archaeological cultures with an ‘ethnic significance’. Thus, since the remains of non-literate societies do not allow inferences about names of persons and collectives, the archaeological cultures themselves are easily treated as historical actors by using their names as substitutes for ethnic designations. In this way, the ‘Corded Ware Culture’ or the ‘Mycenaean Culture’ become ‘Corded Ware peoples’ or ‘Mycenaeans’, although these are pure constructs of archaeological research that have neither been used by groups as a self-designation nor to name another group (Middleton 2002). All this leads to an extremely static, object-like treatment of culture and contributes to the impression of a long-term stability and uniformity of circumscribed ‘cultures’ and ‘ethnic groups’. Since such an understanding of culture fails to consider the transformative power of the agency and the heterogeneity of any given society’s social space as well as the entanglement between societies, change is naturally perceived as coming from the outside through migration, war or environmental disasters. The alternative to the traditional way of defining cultures in archaeology is to shift away from an understanding of culture as something embodied and represented, that is, something that exists and can be possessed, to something that is generated, continuously performed and renegotiated and is therefore in a constant state of becoming (Bourdieu 1984: 99–220; Friedman 1997; Juneja 2011; Hahn 2013: 25, 34–5). Archaeology should thus apply an explicitly 53

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anthropological perspective (Maran 2016) which means, on the one hand, to focus on how culture was practised and performed in specific contexts, and on the other hand, to avoid subsuming historical and cultural processes into a consistent evolutionary chain. Such seemingly persuasive evolutionary reconstructions are deceptive, because one easily forgets that social and political change is only in historical hindsight perceived and construed as gradual and consequential, while in reality it was incalculable and could have led to very different outcomes. Societies are not homogeneous entities, whose members at all times work towards common goals. Instead, each society forms a dynamic social space that consists of various, relationally linked social groups whose worldviews, interests, systems of value and practices may sometimes converge, but to a certain degree may also differ more or less significantly (Bourdieu 1984). At the same time, every society is connected to what its members perceive to be their wider world which in itself is not something fixed and stable, but depends to a certain degree on social imaginaries negotiated in discursive practices that are also of crucial importance for the construction of collective identities (Castoriadis 1975: 159–230, 457–98; Anderson 1983; Taylor 2004: 23–30). On the basis of such social imaginaries, goods and knowledge received through contacts are subject to assessment, translation and appropriation or rejection. These practices of transculturation can significantly differ between various groups within social space dependent on their resources (capital) and willingness to integrate new features (Spittler 2002).

Minoan and Mycenaean cultures: concealing the heterogeneity of cultural practices and identities The examples of the Minoan and Mycenaean ‘cultures’ of the Bronze Age Aegean will be used to further elucidate the flaws of the traditional way of differentiating ‘cultures’ and to present alternatives to this procedure. At the time when Heinrich Schliemann excavated in Mycenae and Tiryns, and Sir Arthur Evans in Knossos, it was common practice to regard the remains uncovered in the excavations as evidence of two cultures, distinct from each other, that came to be designated with the terms ‘Minoan’ and ‘Mycenaean’, and that were geographically based on the central and southern parts of the Greek Mainland and Crete, respectively. The Minoan culture, named after the mythical king Minos, was thought to have lasted throughout the Bronze Age, which amounts to roughly two millennia (ca. 3000–1000 BCE), while the Mycenaean culture, which took its name from the eponymous site, was thought to form the last part of a ‘Helladic’ Bronze Age, the Late Helladic period, which lasted, as we know today, approximately six to seven centuries (1700/1600–1050 BCE). Thanks to the decipherment of the texts written in Linear B found in palatial centres of Crete and Mainland Greece we can, to a certain degree, make use of the information of written sources, but these are restricted to the period between ca. 1450 and 1200 BCE and exclusively consist of administrative texts with a predominantly economic content. Yet, because of the tremendous interpretative efforts of scholars dealing with Linear B, we have learned to gain insights into the realms of religion, society and politics through these seemingly humble administrative texts. The fact that the discoveries on the Greek Mainland and on Crete were separated by only a few decades encouraged the notion of juxtaposed Minoan and Mycenaean ethnic collectives, to whom allegedly primordial traits of a Volksgeist (‘collective spirit of a people’) were attributed in which ‘Minoans’ were characterized as peaceful and religious, while ‘Mycenaeans’ were thought to be of a bellicose nature (cf. Rodenwaldt 1921: 47–52, 58–9). In general, this followed from the essentialist ethnic concepts prevalent in the late nineteenth century CE that regarded Völker as the decisive agents of historical change whose distributions could be traced by charting archaeological cultures ( Jones 1997: 1–55; Brather 2004: 11–76). 54

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Naoíse Mac Sweeney (2009) has rightly remarked that archaeology has had the tendency to concentrate solely on the level of ethnic identity, thereby disregarding that it is only one of the possible expressions within the wider field of collective identities. Alberto Melucci (1995: 44) has defined collective identity as ‘an interactive and shared definition produced by several individuals (or groups at a more complex level) and concerned with the orientations of action and the field of opportunities and constraints in which the action takes place’. If we focus on the broader issue of ‘collective identity’, rather than ‘ethnic identity’, and regard such processes as fluid and dynamic, certain inferences about identity construction in Late Bronze Age Greece are possible, because patterns of group consciousness ‘are embedded in the organization of social behaviour and also in the institutional fabric of society’ ( Jones 1997: 72). In general, the use of the terms Minoan and Mycenaean culture has led to a situation in which a diachronic and synchronic cultural homogeneity within regions and sites of the respective ‘cultural block’ is presupposed without examining the validity of this assumption. The inadequacy of a schematic equation of the Greek Mainland with Mycenaean culture and Crete with Minoan culture becomes evident in a region such as Laconia, where, at least from the beginning of the Middle Bronze Age, the entanglement of Cretan and Mainland goods and practices is so intense that it is highly misleading to draw a line of separation between ‘Helladic/ Mycenaean’ and ‘Minoan’ elements. Besides creating the impression of a long-term continuity and homogeneity in the respective geographical zones, the still prevalent practice of juxtaposing Minoan culture and Mycenaean culture also implies that societies in Crete and the Greek Mainland remained different for many centuries. The equation of the two archaeological cultures with different parts of the territory of the Greek state and the linkage – drawn on the basis of the Homeric poems – of Mycenaean culture to Classical Greek antiquity also meant separating the remains of these early societies from those of the Near East, thereby reifying the alleged difference between Europe and Asia and pushing back an imagined ‘common European past’ to the Bronze Age (Hamilakis and Momigliano 2006; Hamilakis 2006; Hølleland 2008; Niklasson 2016: 175–233). All this has far-reaching consequences for the way in which archaeological research is conducted, because the seeming clarity of differentiating two cultures has discouraged research from investigating how heterogeneous or homogeneous cultural practices really were within settlements and regions as well as between regions of the Greek Mainland and Crete (Eerbeek 2014: 41–114, 280–99; Girella and Pavúk 2016). That we have to expect a significant degree of coexistence of cultural practices and identities is indicated by the analysis of ritualized forms of social practices. This will be elucidated by examples dating to the beginning, the middle and the end of the period designated as ‘Mycenaean’.

The shaft graves of Mycenae (seventeenth/sixteenth centuries BCE): inventing new transcultural identities To what degree the sharp differentiation between ‘Minoan’ and ‘Mycenaean’ has impaired the interpretation of the meaning of abrupt cultural and social change becomes apparent already at the formative stage of what is called Mycenaean culture, when, during the seventeenth and sixteenth centuries BCE, we are confronted with the extremely richly furnished shaft graves of Mycenae that often were regarded as a purely ‘Helladic’ phenomenon and as proof that Mycenaean culture was, from the beginning, distinct from the Minoan one. The groups buried in these graves had a significant share in ‘inventing’ identities, values and practices that laid the ground for what we regard as typically ‘Mycenaean’ (Dickinson 1977: 39–57, 107–10; Wright 1987: 175, 2008a: 146–7; Voutsaki 1997, 1999). This ideology, which was closely associated 55

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with religious elements and introduced new gender ideals, was based on acts of transculturation that created fusions between various local and foreign cultural traits (Maran 2011a). It was constructed in opposition to previous values and norms that had imposed strict rules against the elevation of deceased members of a community through wealthy funerals. The new elite identities are likely to have been associated with a social imaginary in which the groups burying their dead inside the shaft graves perceived themselves as standing at the centre of the world (Maran 2011a). By depositing special objects that were charged with magical–religious meaning and mostly derived from distant regions, such as Crete, Anatolia and even Northwestern Europe, these groups appropriated esoteric knowledge from different parts of the world, and, at the same time, displayed their place at the intersection between trading routes reaching Mycenae from all directions (Dickinson 1977: 54–7, 101–10; Sherratt and Sherratt 1991: 370; Parkinson and Galaty 2007). This imaginary was probably linked in complex ways to the image that the groups buried in the shaft graves had of their relation to the elites of Neopalatial Crete. At the beginning, the new patterns of ideology and habitus associated with the social groups burying in the shaft graves were shared only by a limited number of people and were employed in deliberate opposition to the more ‘traditional’ identities of other groups in the Argolid. After Mycenae had consolidated its position, probably by force, as the most important political centre of the Argolid, the new identities, values and practices assumed a normative character and spread to other regions. This process is reflected in the fact that, starting from the Argolid, the new ideas of elite self-aggrandisement with the associated forms of newly encountered material culture reached societies in other regions of the Peloponnese and Central Greece, where they were employed in similar processes of inner-societal differentiation as in the Argolid before (Phialon 2011, 303–74). In each of the regions, social actors set themselves apart from other groups in the respective region by selecting cultural traits received from the outside and fusing them with local norms, practices and material culture. Therefore, once free from the constraints of the traditional way of perceiving cultures as bounded and homogeneous units, we are in a position to comprehend that the rise and spread of new cultural forms was based on continuous transcultural processes of negotiation and appropriation within the often antagonistic sub-groups of internally fragmented societies (Wright 2006: 13–16).

The first palaces on the Greek mainland (fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BCE): negotiating fluid collective identities Another turning point that reveals the degree of entanglement between societies on Crete and the Greek mainland took place in the course of the fourteenth century BCE, when the first palaces with a megaron as a central building are attested in palatial polities that have emerged in various regions of the Greek mainland. From that time onward, the ‘megaron palaces’ remained the canonical form until the end of the palatial period around 1200 BCE. As in the case of the shaft grave phenomenon, there was also a strong tendency in research of identifying the megaron as a purely ‘Helladic’ architectural form that developed continuously out of earlier mainland Greek predecessors. Although indeed rectangular buildings with hearth rooms had a long tradition on the Greek mainland, the megaron palaces of the fourteenth century were a reinvention based on a transcultural process in which architects, designers and builders deliberately merged mainland Greek architectural elements, such as the central hearth, with features of Minoan derivation (Wright 2008b: 250–1). We cannot specify the exact ideological contents of constructs of collective identities that ensured the cohesion of the palatial polities in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BCE, the 56

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Mycenaean palatial period. Nevertheless, archaeology helps us understand how the implementation of ideology into social practice operated, while the Linear B texts allow inferences about emic notions concerning the political order and basic categories of group differentiation. In the case of fourteenth and thirteenth century BCE Greece, this means that constructs of collective identities have to be contextualized by considering them in the framework of the political organization of societies and of the spatial range of the practices of social communication, through which ideological constructs were expressed and renegotiated. The Linear B texts suggest the coexistence of various autonomous polities, each of which extended over a certain territory, which, in the case of the polity of Pylos, basically comprised Messenia, and in the case of the polity of Thebes, consisted of parts of Boeotia and Euboea (Godart and Sacconi 1999; Aravantinos et al. 2001: 355–8). Each polity was ruled by a king bearing the title wanax, who resided together with other members of the elite in palatial and administrative centres (Galaty and Parkinson 2007; Shelmerdine 2008; Shelmerdine and Bennet 2008). Indications of the existence of a higher level of political organization possibly comprising more than one polity are neither found in the Linear B texts, nor in other archaeological sources (contra Eder 2009; Kelder 2010: 99–120), a conclusion that is also corroborated by the surprisingly few references to economic transactions between polities in the Linear B texts. The available textual and archaeological sources are consistent with the notion of each polity having formed the frame of reference for the shaping of an ‘official’ level of collective identity that was sanctioned by the palatial authorities and to which an unknown percentage of the members of the society at large were able to relate through participation in various forms of social communication. The importance that must have been attached in the emic perspective to the spatial conceptualization of territory is reflected not only in the differentiation of the polity of Pylos into two provinces, but also in the considerable efforts of palatial administrations to distinguish those people who had come from outside of the polity (see below). Although, accordingly, the polity in all likelihood formed the most important level of collective identity, the Linear B texts from Pylos and Thebes also remind us that the composition of the population of such polities seems to have been quite heterogeneous (Nikoloudis 2006: 30–1, 42–56). The palatial administrations of both centres had the habit of naming such persons and even entire groups of people, who had come from outside of the polity, according to their place or region of origin. As Nikoloudis (2006: 43) has observed, this use of toponymics ‘. . . reflects the multicultural awareness and composition of the Mycenaean population . . .’. The wish to distinguish non-locals also indirectly lends additional support for identifying the territory of the polity as the ‘official’ level of the construction of collective identity (Efkleidou 2002–3: 287–8; Nikoloudis 2006: 54–5). Among the non-locals mentioned in the Pylos and Thebes Linear B tablets, the presence of persons from other regions of the Greek mainland, from Crete, the islands of the East Aegean, from Western Anatolia and, in one case, also from Cyprus, is attested (Aravantinos et al. 2001: 355–6; Efkleidou 2002–3: 271–87; Nikoloudis 2006: 42–7). It seems that, at least from the perspective of the palatial administration, there was a coexistence of different levels of the classification of collective identities within a single Mycenaean polity. Although probably a strong normative power emanated from the palace and its functionaries to propagate in word, image and practice the ‘official’ group identity that revolved around the polity, it is unknown what percentage of the population actually identified exclusively with this level of collective identity. Indeed, a significant problem in conveying the ‘official’ ideology to the population at large must have arisen from the fact that the palatial elite in its uppermost level presented itself as a hermetically secluded system. While the prominence of processions in ritual practice, well attested in images and texts and encoded in the layout of the palaces, at first seems to suggest a significant communal participation, and may indeed have been 57

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instrumentalized in this way by the palatial elite, there can be little doubt that what was going on inside the palaces, especially in the last decades of the palatial period, was embedded in a strategy of concealment, exclusivity and seclusion on behalf of the ruling class, thereby leading to a situation in which key religious principles of state ideology may have been known only to a handful (Maran and Stavrianopoulou 2007: 289–90; Maran 2011b: 173–5). It is therefore to be expected that a certain number of the inhabitants of the polity lacked the background to relate to the ‘official’ ideological line, and instead used their place or region of origin as important additional or alternative points of reference of collective identity. In this respect, one and the same person may have claimed for himself or herself more than one collective identity (Nikoloudis 2006: 54–5). The demographic change in Mycenaean centres in particular must have been one of the main factors ensuring that the negotiation of collective identities was an ongoing and fluid process (Nikoloudis 2006: 30–1, 42–6), which represented a constant challenge to the cohesiveness of the ‘official’ line of group definition propagated by the palaces (Davis and Bennet 1999: 114). Since newcomers had no deep roots in the region, they may have had difficulty identifying with the ‘official’ line of collective self-perception, especially if the latter included references to a common descent or the perceived primordial connection with a specific territory. Accordingly, the ruling elite had to choose between either excluding a growing part of the population from participating in such ideological constructs, or adjusting the ideological basis for the ‘official’ line of collective self-perception to allow non-locals to identify with it. Even if some of the non-local persons mentioned in the Pylos texts may have been held against their will (Chadwick 1988: 90–2; see also Efkleidou 2002–3: 285), Mycenaean centres must have held considerable attraction for groups of persons from districts of the same polity, from other polities and from distant lands. This effect is likely to have been particularly noticeable in harbour towns, which, as hubs of long-distance trade, served as a first point of contact for newcomers arriving over sea. In Pylos, persons of non-local origin working for the palace seem to have belonged to low-status groups, although they may not have been socially inferior compared to locals who were involved in the same fields of activity (Efkleidou 2002–3: 288; see also Nosch 2003: 15–22). In contrast to the rest of the persons of non-local affiliation mentioned in the Pylos tablets, who were of low status (Efkleidou 2002–3: 284–8), the one person with a toponymic referring to Cyprus seems to have been a high palatial official. As a ‘collector’ he may have been involved in trade with Cyprus (Killen 1995; Nikoloudis 2006: 47–8). In conclusion, far from having been characterized by a homogeneous supra-regional collective identity that is evoked by the use of the term ‘Mycenaeans’ or ‘Mycenaean Culture’, the coexisting thirteenth century BCE polities in the regions of the Peloponnese and Eastern Central Greece seem to have been political entities with differing collective identities – and complex internal compositions – consisting of groups that had lived for different lengths of time in the polity and had originated from a variety of regions. Which of these ideological constructs of collective identities should be perceived as ‘ethnic’ is impossible to say because we lack texts informing us about the basis of explicitly ethnic discourses (Nikoloudis 2006: 42). However, since such discourses often revolve around a specific territory and common myths of descent (Hall 1997), the highly diverse geographical origins of the inhabitants of Mycenaean palatial polities make the coexistence of various forms of ethnic awareness very likely, or, to cite Nikoloudis (2006: 55), ‘[. . .] the arrival of groups, whether from nearby or further afield, [. . .] would have produced the conditions [. . .] in which ethnic consciousness is known to emerge or intensify’. 58

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The post–palatial period (twelfth century BCE): reinventing societies The destruction horizon separating the palatial from the post-palatial period marks one of the most profound political watersheds in the history of early Greece. Thereafter, ambitious works of architecture and engineering vanished, just as much as literacy, administration and the ruler with the title wanax in Greece. In the past, the palatial destructions were regarded as the beginning of the Dark Ages, during which the former Mycenaean centres were supposed to have lain in ruins (cf. Desborough 1964: 79, 225–7). Today it is clear that sweeping statements about the nature of the time following the destructions should be avoided because the palatial destructions seem to have had strikingly different effects which led to pronounced divergences in regional developments (Deger–Jalkotzy 1991, 2008; Dickinson 2006: 67–76). What unified all former palatial regions was the disappearance of the relatively consolidated hierarchies of the thirteenth century, which were replaced by a much less stable political order in which, at various sites, noble kin groups competed with each other for claims to leadership. One of the likely side effects of the collapse must have been a breakdown of the palatial capacity to normatively define the contents of an ‘official’ ideology, which immediately affected the construction of discourses, as it gave the members of Mycenaean communities a previously unknown degree of freedom to actively participate in reshaping such discourses or initiating entirely new ones. Whereas during palatial times the benefits of working for the palace, as well as the affiliation with certain groups of workmen/specialists/administrative circles, may have curtailed the potentially centrifugal effects of collective self-definitions which deviated from the ‘official’ line, the redefinition of post-palatial local identities may have strengthened group affiliations and the enforcement of individual origins (Maran 2015). A defining feature of the twelfth century, especially in the Argolid region, was the employment of social memory and especially the construction of a linkage to the palatial past for political purposes. Ruins and moveable items of the palatial period were reclaimed and integrated into social practices in order to gain legitimacy in the new political and social circumstances and, perhaps in the somewhat chaotic social arena of the post-palatial order, to assert oneself against other status claimants (Maran 2006b, 2011b). The extremely competitive social relations of the twelfth century BCE ensured that the reference to the past became an integral ingredient of the system of values of the elite and, at the same time, a weapon in the struggle for higher positions within post-palatial society. This inner societal dynamic is likely to have been further exacerbated by the unequal opportunities between groups to create and display a credible linkage to the past. Families who had settled at the site only after the destruction, as well as those who had come to Tiryns in palatial times from surrounding regions, or even from more distant areas (Maran 2004: 24–6; Kilian 2007: 77–80; Stockhammer 2008: 283–94, 2011: 226–36; Brysbaert and Vetters 2010: 32–7), but whose foreign roots were still remembered in the twelfth century BCE, were probably excluded from using events of the local past as points of reference (Maran 2015). They may have instead opted to gain reputation in different ways, for instance by drawing on their relation to distant elites to receive exquisite forms of material culture from abroad, and to conspicuously employ them in social practice. All this must have led to the coexistence of competing outlooks on the past and identity constructs between different settlements and even between groups living together at the same site. Again, this inner societal heterogeneity and deliberate employment of material culture to achieve certain ends only becomes evident by moving away from the homogenizing label ‘Mycenaean culture’, and replacing it with an approach that considers the inner heterogeneity of any given society.


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The need to move from ‘cultures’ to ‘culture’ These examples have made it clear how much the juxtaposition of the two monolithic cultural blocks of Minoan and Mycenaean culture have impeded and prevented the recognition of the significant diversity of material forms, identities and practices that coexisted in the synchronic and diachronic perspectives in regions and sites of mainland Greece and Crete. In each example, the notions of ‘homogeneity’, ‘evolution’ and ‘continuity’, which are evoked by subsuming many centuries under one and the same name of a culture, do not provide a suitable framework to explain the transformations. Instead, the agency of social groups was the main factor prompting the unexpected ruptures that decisively changed the course of history. In addition, it becomes evident that, at times, societies on Crete and the Greek Mainland were not only linked through trade relations, but were also entangled as regards identity constructs. The formation of what is called ‘Mycenaean culture’ was a transcultural phenomenon that was based on the agency of social actors in regions of the Peloponnese, and probably the Argolid in particular, who, during the shaft grave period, created a fusion between various local and foreign cultural traits, thereby initiating cultural and social identities which had nowhere existed previously (Maran 2011a). Over time, these identities and their material correlates did not stay the same, but were the subject of renegotiation, opposition and exclusion – which is why the coexistence of diverging constructs of collective identities in one and the same region should be expected to be the rule rather than the exception. What becomes evident here is that a substantialist definition of culture, with its emphasis on uniformity and stability, is unable to account for the often contradictory, antagonistic and exclusionary properties of the employment of cultural traits in one and the same society. This implies that we have to move away from the traditional archaeological concept of culture and replace it with a research design that allows us to investigate and analyse the regional and chronological contingency of cultural processes. In particular, more attention has to be paid to the diversity of cultural forms and practices coexisting at one and the same site and between contemporary sites of a region. In the past 100 years, archaeologists have spent a lot of time and energy in defining and delimiting cultures on the basis of features of material culture. These cultures became the most important building blocks for chronological systems and regional overviews. Differentiating cultures through ‘checklists’ of certain traits was a performative act through which the entities one wished to distinguish were miraculously brought to life and often corresponded to the territories of nation states by which the latter were reified. Once cultures were defined, they became substitutes for historical actors, which is why theorists of culture have often evoked naturalizing metaphors of growth, zenith and decline. Subdividing neatly separated cultures required homogenizing human societies and glossing over their fault lines, heterogeneities and inner contradictions. Therefore, since the traditional archaeological culture concept is inherently linked with notions of boundedness, homogeneity, stability and fixed ethnic identities, it cannot be reconciled with a transcultural approach and archaeology should strive to abandon it. As a consequence, we need to rid ourselves of the narrow and misleading boundaries of the traditional ways of subdividing cultures in order to be able to look with fresh eyes at the patterning of social and cultural changes brought about by the agency of groups and individuals within sites and regions and between regions. The key factor here is to make a final break with the understanding of the ‘representative’ view of culture as something that exists and can be possessed, and to replace it with a dynamic model that focuses on the ‘performative’ side of culture by perceiving it as the means through which people shape and create what they regard as their reality – their lifeworld. In order to do this, we have to replace ‘cultures’ in the plural by ‘culture’ in the singular. What is needed is an anthropological archaeology that investigates 60

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how in such lifeworlds the realms of the material and the immaterial were inextricably linked at various levels through patterns of practice. In this kind of practice-oriented anthropological archaeology, cultural processes must be examined on both the micro- and macro-level. The focus thus should be on the generative and performative properties of culture, which precludes notions of uniformity and long-term stability since it is continuously renegotiated and in a state of becoming.

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Hahn, H.-P. (2013) Ethnologie. Eine Einführung, Berlin: Suhrkamp. Hall, J.M. (1997) Ethnic Identity in Greek Antiquity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hamilakis, Y. (2006) ‘The colonial, the national, and the local: legacies of the Minoan past’, in Y. Hamilakis and N. Momigliano (eds) Archaeology and European Modernity: Producing and Consuming the Minoans, Padova: Bottega d’Erasmo, 145–62. Hamilakis, Y. and Momigliano, N. (2006) ‘Archaeology and European modernity: stories from the borders’, in Y. Hamilakis and N. Momigliano (eds) Archaeology and European Modernity: Producing and Consuming the Minoans, Padova: Bottega d’Erasmo, 25–35. Hølleland, H. (2008) ‘The Bronze Age – The dawn of European civilisation? A case study of usages of the past within the European identity discourse’, Master thesis in Archaeology, University of Oslo. Online. Available http://urn.nb.no/URN:NBN:no-20976 (accessed 29 August 2017). Johnson, M. (1999) Archaeological Theory: An Introduction, Malden, Oxford and Victoria: Blackwell Publishing. Jones, S. (1997) The Archaeology of Ethnicity: Constructing Identities in the Past and Present, New York: Routledge. Juneja, M. (2011) ‘Global Art History and the “Burden of Representation” ’, in H. Belting, J. Birken, A. Buddensieg and P. Weibel (eds) Global Studies: Mapping Contemporary Art and Culture, Stuttgart: Hatje Cantz Verlag, 274–97. Juneja, M. and Falser, M. (2013) ‘Kulturerbe – Denkmalpflege: transkulturell. Eine Einleitung’, in M. Falser and M. Juneja (eds) Kulturerbe und Denkmalpflege transkulturell. Grenzgänge zwischen Theorie und Praxis, Bielefeld: Transcript, 17–34. Jung, R. (2000) ‘Das Megaron – Ein Analogie(kurz)schluss der ägäischen Archäologie’, in A. Gramsch (ed) Vergleichen als archäologische Methode: Analogien in den Archäologien, Oxford: Archaeopress, 71–95. Kelder, J.M. (2010) The Kingdom of Mycenae: A Great Kingdom in the Late Bronze Age Aegean, Bethesda: CDL Press. Kilian, K. (2007) Tiryns XV: die handgemachte geglättete Keramik mykenischer Zeitstellung, Wiesbaden: Reichert. Killen, J.T. (1995) ‘Some further thoughts on collectors’, in R. Laffineur and W.-D. Niemeier (eds) Politeia: society and state in the Aegean Bronze Age, Liège and Austin: Université de Liège and University of Texas at Austin, 213–26. Kossinna, G. (1911) Die Herkunft der Germanen. Zur Methode der Siedlungsarchäologie, Würzburg: Kabitzsch. Latour, B. (1986) ‘The powers of association’, in J. Law (ed) Power, Action and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge?, London, Boston and Henley: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 264–80. Mac Sweeney, N. (2009) ‘Beyond ethnicity: the overlooked diversity of group identities’, Journal of Mediterranean Archaeology, 22(1): 101–26. Maran, J. (2004) ‘The spreading of objects and ideas in the late Bronze Age eastern Mediterranean: two case examples from the Argolid of the 13th and 12th centuries BCE’, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, 336: 11–30. ——. (2011a) ‘Lost in translation: the emergence of Mycenaean culture as a phenomenon of glocalisation’, in T.C. Wilkinson, S. Sherratt and J. Bennet (eds) Interweaving Worlds: Systemic Interactions in Eurasia, 7th to 1st Millennia BC. Proceedings of the Conference Ancient World Systems, Sheffield, 1–4 April 2008 in Memory of Andrew Sherratt, Oxford and Oakville: Oxbow Books, 282–94. ——. (2011b) ‘Contested pasts: the society of the 12th c. BCE. Argolid and the memory of the Mycenaean palatial period’, in W. Gauß, M. Lindblom, R.A.K. Smith and J.C. Wright (eds) Our Cups are Full: Pottery and Society in the Aegean Bronze Age. Papers Presented to Jeremy B. Rutter on the Occasion of His 65th Birthday, Oxford: Archaeopress, 169–78. ——. (2015) ‘Tiryns and the Argolid in Mycenaean times: new clues and interpretations’, in A.-L. Schallin and I. Tournavitou (eds) Mycenaeans up to Date: The Archaeology of the Northeastern Peloponnese – Current Concepts and New Directions, Stockholm: Swedish Institute at Athens, 277–93. ——. (2016) ‘Towards an anthropology of religion in Minoan and Mycenaean Greece’, in E. AlramStern, F. Blakolmer, S. Deger-Jalkotzy, R. Laffineur and J. Weilhartner (eds) METAPHYSIS: Ritual, Myth and Symbolism in the Aegean Bronze Age, Leuven and Liège: Peeters, 581–91. Maran, J. and Stavrianopoulou, E. (2007) ‘Πότνιος Ανήρ: reflections on the ideology of Mycenaean kingship’, in E. Alram-Stern and G. Nightingale (eds) KEIMELION. The Formation of Elites and Elitist Lifestyles from Mycenaean Palatial Times to the Homeric Period. Akten des internationalen Kongresses vom 3. bis 5. Februar 2005 in Salzburg, Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences, 285–98. Melucci, A. (1995) ‘The process of collective identity’, in H. Johnston and B. Klandermans (eds) Social Movements and Culture, Minneapolis, MN and London: University of Minnesota Press and UCL Press, 41–63. Mende, J. (2011) ‘Kultur, Volk und Rasse’, Anthropos, 106: 529–45. 62

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Middleton, G.D. (2002) ‘Mycenaeans, Greeks, archaeology and myth’, Eras Journal, 3. Online. Available http://artsonline.monash.edu.au/eras/mycenaeans-greeks-archaeology-and-myth-identity-and-the-usesof-evidence-in-the-archaeology-of-late-bronze-age-greece/ (accessed 29 August 2017). Müller, J. (2001) Soziochronologische Studien zum Jung- und Spätneolithikum im Mittelelbe-Saale-Gebiet (4100–2700 v. Chr.): Eine sozialhistorische Interpretation prähistorischer Quellen, Rahden: Leidorf. Niklasson, E. (2016) Funding Matters: Archaeology and the Political Economy of the Past in the EU, Stockholm: Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies. Nikoloudis, S. (2006) ‘The ra-wa-ke-ta: ministerial authority and Mycenaean cultural identity’, PhD thesis, University of Texas at Austin. Online. Available www.lib.utexas.edu/etd/d/2006/nikoloudiss 67970/nikoloudiss67970.pdf (accessed 29 August 2017. Nosch, M.L.B. (2003) ‘The women at work in the Linear B tablets’, in L. Larsson Lovén and A. Strömberg (eds) Gender, Cult and Culture in the Ancient World from Mycenae to Byzantium. Proceedings of the Second Nordic Symposium of Gender and Women’s History in Antiquity, Helsinki, 20–22 October 2000, Sävedalen: Åström, 12–26. Parkinson, W.A. and Galaty, M.L. (2007) ‘Secondary states in perspective: an integrated approach to state formation in the prehistoric Aegean’, American Anthropologist, 109: 113–29. Phialon, L. (2011) L’émergence de la civilisation mycénienne en Grèce central, Leuven and Liège: Peeters. Rebay–Salisbury, K.C. (2011) ‘Thoughts in circles: Kulturkreislehre as a hidden paradigm in past and present archaeological interpretations’, in B.W. Roberts and M. Vander Linden (eds) Investigating Archaeological Cultures: Material Culture, Variability, and Transmission, New York, Dordrecht, Heidelberg and London: Springer, 41–59. Renfrew, C. and Cherry, J.F. (eds) (1986) Peer Polity Interaction and Socio-Political Change. New Directions in Archaeology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rodenwaldt, G. (1921) Der Fries des Megarons von Mykenai, Halle: Niemeyer. Roessel, D. (2006) ‘Happy little extroverts and bloodthirsty tyrants: Minoans and Mycenaeans in literature in English after Evans and Schliemann’, in Y. Hamilakis and N. Momigliano (eds) Archaeology and European Modernity: Producing and Consuming the Minoans, Padova: Bottega d’Erasmo, 197–207. Shelmerdine, C.W. (2008) ‘Mycenaean society’, in Y. Duhoux and A. Morpurgo Davies (eds) A Companion to Linear B: Mycenaean Greek Texts and Their World, vol. 1, Louvain-la-Neuve and Dudley, MA: Peeters, 115–58. Shelmerdine, C.W. and Bennet, J. (2008) ‘Economy and administration’, in C.W. Shelmerdine (ed) The Cambridge Companion to the Aegean Bronze Age, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 289–309. Sherratt, A. and Sherratt, S. (1991) ‘From luxuries to commodities: the nature of Mediterranean Bronze Age trading systems’ in N.H. Gale (ed) Bronze Age Trade in the Mediterranean. Papers presented at the conference held at Rewley House, Oxford, December 1989, Jonsered: Åström, 351–86. Spittler, G. (2002) ‘Globale Waren – Lokale Aneignungen’, in B. Hauser-Schäublin and U. Braukämper (eds) Ethnologie der Globalisierung: Perspektiven kultureller Verflechtungen, Berlin: Reimer, 15–30. Stockhammer, P.W. (2008) ‘Kontinuität und Wandel – Die Keramik der Nachpalastzeit aus der Unterstadt von Tiryns’, PhD thesis, Heidelberg University. Online. Available http://archiv.ub.uni-heidelberg.de/ volltextserver/8612/ (accessed 29 August 2017). ——. (2011) ‘Household archaeology in LHIIIC Tiryns’, in A. Yasur-Landau, J.R. Ebeling and L.B. Mazow (eds) Household Archaeology in Ancient Israel and Beyond, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 207–36. Taylor, C. (2004) Modern Social Imaginaries, Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press. Trigger, B.G. (1996) A History of Archaeological Thought, 2nd edn, Cambridge, New York and Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. Tsirtsoni, Z. (2006) ‘Mon Récent est plus ancient que ton Moyen: motifs d’une guerre balkanique en cours’, in P. Darcque, M. Fotiadis and O. Polychronopoulou (eds), Mythos: la préhistoire égéenne du XIXe au XXIe siècle après J.-C. Actes de la table ronde international d’Athènes, 21–23 novembre 2002, Athens: École française d’Athènes, 231–44. Voutsaki, S. (1997) ‘The creation of value and prestige in the Aegean Late Bronze Age’, Journal of European Archaeology, 5: 34–52. ——. (1999) ‘Mortuary display, prestige and identity in the shaft grave era’, in I. Kilian-Dirlmeier (ed) Eliten in der Bronzezeit. Ergebnisse zweier Kolloquien in Mainz und Athen, Mainz: Verlag des RömischGermanischen Zentralmuseums, 103–18. Wotzka, H.-P. (1993) ‘Zum traditionellen Kulturbegriff in der prähistorischen Archäologie’, Paideuma, 39: 25–44. 63

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5 Civilization(s) Use and abuse of a macro-historical category Daniel G. König

Since Samuel Huntington proposed in the 1990s that world politics have to be read in terms of a Clash of Civilizations, public discourse in various countries has reiterated the notion that ‘civilizations’ (in plural) constitute potentially antagonistic cultural blocks. Separated (in the words of Huntington) by ‘cultural faultlines’, they are said to represent an important source of global conflict (Huntington 1993: 22; 1996). The current proliferation and appeal of radical fundamentalist and right-wing populist movements propagating visions of religious and cultural antagonism – e.g. between ‘Islam’ and ‘the West’ – raises the following question: is it not necessary to systematically deconstruct the notion that individuals and entire societies form part of immutable and impenetrable monolithic macro-historical cultural entities called ‘civilizations’? Insisting on the complexity and dynamics of cultural phenomena, adherents to the transcultural approach regard the deconstruction of conceptual entities as one of its principal tasks ( Juneja 2013: 25; König and Rakow 2016: 90–5). Consequently, the transcultural approach seems to represent the methodological and ideological antithesis to Huntington’s notion of antagonistic civilizations, and to be destined to supersede culturalist forms of thought. This chapter aims to discuss the problems and merits of conceptualizing world history in terms of a plurality of civilizations. After a short historical overview on the interpretation of one of the most popular and inspiring topics of Western historical scholarship, the so-called ‘fall of Rome’, the chapter introduces the reader to the range of highly ideological notions linked to the term ‘civilization(s)’ in contemporary imaginaries. This leads into a short and necessarily incomplete history of the idea of conceptualizing world history in terms of a plurality of civilizations subject to macro-historical rhythms of rise and fall. Why this vision of world history seemed convincing in the twentieth century is analysed by drawing on the statements of various contemporary historians adhering to this explanatory model. The chapter concludes by discussing the role that the concept of civilizations might have for present and future academics ‘engaging in transculturality’.


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The end of civilization? The fall of Rome in the European imaginary A short history of how the so-called Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, to use the title of Edward Gibbon’s multi-volume oeuvre (published 1776–81), was interpreted over the centuries, illustrates what is at stake in an article intent on assessing the value of the concept of civilizations. After all, Rome’s fall has not only been associated with the demise of a polity, but with the inner corruption, violent barbarian destruction and passing away of an entire civilization that had marked the Euromediterranean for centuries. Already in the fifth century CE, Salvian, presbyter in Marseille, claimed in his compilation of sermons entitled On the Government of God (ca. 440 CE) that ‘the very people who, as pagans, conquered and ruled the world, are being conquered and enslaved’. The Roman people, Salvian chastised his Christian audience, were not prepared to improve morally in the face of various divinely ordained calamities: ‘shadowed by the fear of death, we laugh. You would think the whole Roman people had been steeped in Sardonic herbs: they are dying, yet they laugh’ (Salvian 1966: 190; Salvianus 1877: Book VII, Ch. 1, 84–5). Commenting on the deposition of the last Western Roman emperor in 476 CE, Marcellinus Comes, writing his chronicle up to the year 534 in Constantinople, concluded: The western empire of the Roman people, first held by Octavianus Augustus in the 709th year since the foundation of Rome, died with this Augustulus, in the 522th year of the rule of succeeding emperors. (Marcellinus Comes 1894: a. 476, 91) However, this late antique acknowledgement that something had come to an end was neither shared by contemporaries, nor by all posterior generations. Considering themselves as Romans, inhabitants of the so-called Byzantine Empire upheld a modified imperial Roman identity and corresponding traditions until the fifteenth century. Inhabitants of the post-Roman Latin West, in turn, developed the theory of translatio imperii, and thus also considered themselves successors to the Roman Empire. It is from the Renaissance onwards that European scholars, steeped in the tradition of Latin and increasingly Greek texts, began to regard the time between the fifth and the fifteenth centuries as the rupture of the ‘dark ages’ and themselves as revivers of classical culture. From this period onwards, the ‘fall of Rome’ has been a recurrent theme in European and Western thought, as Alexander Demandt has shown in a monumental study that analyses how the Empire’s decline and fall has been explained in the last 1,500 years (Demandt 1984). Whereas the scholarly debate on how to interpret the period of Late Antiquity has not ceased, opposing, among others, proponents of a ‘transformation of the Roman world’1 (Pohl 2008) to those insisting that the fall of Rome has to be seen as the ‘end of civilization’ (WardPerkins 2005), this period of history also continues to fire the imagination of those moving outside the academic sphere. Rome’s fall has repeatedly been and still is explicitly associated with current socio-political challenges and thus (ab)used to evoke images of civilizational breakdown and its ominous consequences. In 2001, for example, the founder and leader of the Dutch right-wing populist Partij vor de Vrijheid, Geert Wilders, evoked the image of barbarian invasions and the succeeding fall of Rome to polemicize against Muslim immigration to Europe and the tenets of multiculturalism: Winston Churchill warned that Islam is threatening Europe in the same way as the Barbarians once threatened Rome. Churchill is right. However, if Europe falls, it will fall 66


because, like ancient Rome, it no longer believes in the superiority of its own civilization. It will fall because it foolishly believes that all cultures are equal and that, consequently, there is no reason why we should fight for our own culture in order to preserve it. (Wilders 2011) Seemingly reversing perspectives, but only giving expression to the same fears of an Islamic takeover in Europe, Michel Houellebecq’s novel Soumission [i.e. ‘submission’, one possible literal translation of the Arabic term isla¯m], published in 2015, proffers an allegedly Islamist interpretation of the fall of Rome. In the novel, the main protagonist engages with the hypotheses of Robert Rediger, an upstart in the new Islamist regime envisioned in France of 2022, a regime that eventually manages to reconstruct the Roman Empire of Euromediterranean dimensions, albeit under Muslim auspices. The main protagonist summarizes Rediger’s justification of the Islamist takeover in the following terms. [H]aving arrived at a repugnant degree of decomposition, Western Europe was not capable anymore of saving itself, just as ancient Rome had not been able to do so in the fifth century of our era. The massive arrival of immigrated populations, marked by a traditional culture still characterized by natural hierarchies, the submission of women and the respect due to the elders constituted a historical chance for the moral and familial rearmament of Europe and opened up the perspective of a golden age for the old continent. (Houellebecq 2015: 276)2 In the conclusion to his study of explanations for the fall of Rome, written in 1984, i.e. long before the quotes cited above, Alexander Demandt envisioned why Europeans of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century would continue to draw on the image of a dying Roman civilization to explain their contemporary situation. According to Demandt, Europeans of this period – i.e. of our times! – would live in a historical phase not characterized anymore by the ‘alternating succession of civilizations’ (einander ablösende Hochkulturen).3 Closed spaces of communication facilitating the emergence of distinctive styles would not exist anymore. Our era would be characterized by a highly technological urban-centred global civilization that would differ as much from pre-industrial societies as classical Antiquity differed from the Stone Age. Demandt believed that our age would witness the end, not only of ‘European civilization’ (europäische Hochkultur), but of ‘the entire period of civilizations’ (die gesamte Periode der Hochkulturen). This transition from the period of civilizations to the era of global civilization would not be devoid of tensions, Demandt stressed. A ‘sustained feeling of crisis’ (ein anhaltendes Krisengefühl), a ‘mood of transition’ (Übergangsstimmung) would be characteristic of this period, to the effect that the fall of Rome and the period of Late Antiquity seemed closely related and emotionally comprehensible (Demandt 1984: 624–5). It is for this reason, Demandt claimed, that Rome’s fall can still serve successfully to convey specific political messages today. One may note in this context, that Demandt himself felt tempted to draw comparisons between the so-called ‘migration period’ (Völkerwanderung) of Late Antiquity and the so-called ‘refugee crisis’ in interviews and articles published in 2015 and early 2016 (Demandt 2015, 2016). His public statements – harshly criticized by some as political pleas for a more restrictive immigration policy in the guise of historical scholarship (Selin 2016) – formed part of a wider media debate in Germany about the adequacy of comparing migratory phenomena in Late Antiquity with events in 2015 (Bollmann 2015; Widmann 2015a, 2015b). Demandt thus contributed to fulfilling his own prophecy: in his 1984 study, he had concluded that interpretations of the fall of Rome, this Western paradigm for the breakdown of civilization, fulfilled 67

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and would continue to fulfil the function of all history, i.e. of providing politicians with the material for propaganda, amateurs with a diversion in periods of leisure, professional historians with a living, and, we may add, society with the possibility of historically based, but ultimately ideological self-evaluation and orientation (Demandt 1984: 624–5). Considering the interdependence between contemporary needs and the resulting ideological interpretation of past events, Demandt’s sardonic evaluation of the functions of history raises the question of relevance for this chapter, i.e. whether it is actually possible to arrive at any valid interpretation of the rise and fall of ‘civilizations’ that is not, in some way or other, ideological. Demandt himself insisted that it is possible to arrive at a sound judgement (sicheres Urteil). Having liberated themselves of all desires and fears with regards to the future, and by explicitly acknowledging their remaining criteria of judgement, conscientious historians would be able to regard the engagement with history as an opportunity to overcome prejudices. Although a final evaluation of historical phenomena could only be realized at the ‘end of times’ (am Ende der Zeiten), when it would become possible to discern the entire range of historical effects, historians of our times could achieve a certain, but never absolute, degree of impartiality. To this effect, however, it would be necessary not only to analyse the historical phenomenon under scrutiny – in this case ‘civilizations’ – but also to consider the history of its interpretation (Demandt 1984: 615–17).

A world of multiple civilizations? The emergence of a paradigm Since ancient times, intellectuals have made efforts to understand the functioning of world history and the concomitant rise and fall of larger socio-political structures – one example being Polybius’ (d. c. 120 BCE) history of the rise of the Roman Empire (Polybius 1922–7: vol. 1, Book I, Ch. 2, 7–8: 7). Up to about the eighteenth century, however, these larger structures were regarded as political rather than as cultural phenomena, i.e. as realms and empires, not as cultures or civilizations (Netzwerk Transkulturelle Verflechtungen 2016: 25–50; see also Maran in this volume). Antiquity also provided alternative macro-models to categorize the human world and its history: the ancient Greek distinction between ‘nature’ (φύσις) and ‘convention’ (νόμος) shows that humans distinguished between the biological and cultural sources of behaviour from the earliest times (Bagby 1959: 73). Hesiodus (eighth century BCE) divided humanity into a sequence of characteristic generations (γένος) (Hesiod 1914: 110–201), whereas Hippocrates (fifth century BCE), among others, had recourse to the cultural dichotomy of ‘civilized’ Hellenes ( Ἕλληνες) and ‘uncivilized’ Barbarians (βάρβαροι) (Backhaus 1976). Scholars of Jewish, later Christian and Muslim religious affiliation provided variations of the ‘table of nations’ recorded in Genesis 10, thus opting for an ‘ethnic’ division of humankind as the progeny of Noah’s sons Shem, Ham and Japheth (Gorion 1980–81: vol. 1, 3–9; Isidorus 1987: Book IX, II, 1–2; Ibn Khaldu¯ n 2000–01: vol. 1, 3–5). Among these scholars, Ibn Khaldu¯n (d. 808/1406) developed one of the most elaborate theoretical explanations of the functioning of human societies in the pre-modern Euromediterranean. Clearly inspired by ancient Greek geo- and ethnography, Ibn Khaldu¯ n claimed that climate, air and food considerably influenced the degree of sophistication characteristic of human groups. But although he had recourse to ‘cultural’ criteria to distinguish between nomads, sedentary populations and city-dwellers, he refrained from defining cultural entities and vested the above-mentioned categories with various ethnonyms. His famous theory of group solidarity (al-ʿasabiyya) is based on the dichotomy of ˙ culturally less sophisticated but ‘uncorrupted’ nomads and culturally more sophisticated sedentary populations prone to decadence. Again, however, these categories only provide the overriding framework for a world history moved by tribes, peoples and dynastic states, which can 68


distinguish themselves from each other by adhering to a specific system of religious norms (Ibn Khaldu¯ n 2005: vol. 1, 132–45, 189–394). Although it is necessary to provide more than punctual evidence, ancient and medieval models of categorizing humankind do not seem to resort to concepts of cultures or civilizations to explain cultural alterity or to construct a framework of world history. The division of humankind into different cultures or civilizations thus seems to be a distinctive feature of the modern age. The intricate relationship between conceptualization and terminological expression must be considered in this context. In European languages, the term ‘culture’ only gradually acquired the meanings it is generally associated with today. Deriving from the Latin cultura, the term was initially linked to the tillage of the soil or the cultivation of plants. As a meliorist notion describing a process of refinement, it acquired a figurative meaning in Cicero’s (d. 43 BCE) writings when he used cultura animi as a synonym for actively engaging in philosophical thought. In this sense, up to the eighteenth century the term culture or cultura was occasionally used to define deliberate efforts to develop the qualities of some object. In the middle of the nineteenth century, the connotation of improvement or development lost significance, as the term increasingly came to mean a state rather than a process of refinement, thus summarizing all kinds of human achievements (skills, techniques, learning). In this way, the term began to cover all aspects of social life, whether refined or not, thus leading to a delimitation of cultural entities practised, for example, by early anthropologists and ethnologists studying ‘primitive cultures’ in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (Bagby 1959: 73–5). The term civilization went through a parallel process of semantic development. Meliorist connotations gave way to a definition that applied to states rather than processes of refinement (Bagby 1959: 75; Pflaum 1961). A neologism, it first seems to have appeared in France in the eighteenth century, spreading from there to other parts of Europe, first to be used in the plural at the beginning of the nineteenth century. This led to a semantic reconfiguration of the term ‘civilization’ in the singular: if civilization can be multiple, it ceases to denote a state of refinement and becomes a generic term that defines ‘the characteristics common to the collective life of a period or a group’ (Braudel 1993: 41–8; 1994: 6–7; cf. Moras 1930). The nineteenth century still witnessed some disagreement as to the distinction between the notions of ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’. German thinkers tended to delimit ‘culture’ to the values, ideals and higher intellectual, artistic and moral qualities of society and to distinguish it from ‘civilization’, which encompassed mechanics, technology and material factors (Huntington 1996: 41). Today, this distinction has not necessarily lost relevance, and is additionally seconded by a further distinction marked by the use of the article. In common usage, ‘culture’ and ‘civilization’ broadly denote states of refinement achieved thanks to human ingeniousness and activity, whereas ‘a culture’ and ‘a civilization’ denote historically grown entities (White 1959: 17–18, 30–1). Among historians, the definition of cultures and civilizations as entities was only gradually accepted. Johann Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), for example, repeatedly depicted as the philosophical embodiment of cultural essentialism in various articles by Wolfgang Welsch (Welsch 1999), may have equated ‘nations’ (not cultures!) to ‘spheres’, each with their own centre of gravity (Herder 1774: 509). In the flowery style of the eighteenth century, Herder certainly formulates various ideas on the ‘national character’ of certain peoples and the importance of stereotypes in creating boundaries between different groups (Herder 1774: 510). Herder’s deliberations on the ancient Greek appropriation of Egyptian and Phoenician elements (Herder 1774: 496) show, however, that he did not seek ‘to envisage cultures as closed spheres or autonomous islands’ in the extreme way Welsch claims (Welsch 1999: 194), but rather adhered to the contemporary paradigm of explaining world history in terms of an East-West progression of culture, an idea developed by Hegel (Kramer 2004). The anthropological study of ‘cultures’, 69

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still untouched by ‘civilization’ characteristic of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, soon engaged with phenomena such as ‘culture contact’ and ‘acculturation’ (Herskovits 1938). The historical study of ‘civilizations’, in turn, only seems to have gained momentum at the beginning of the twentieth century. Whereas scholars such as W. M. F. Petrie and, more prominent, Max Weber, dedicated much thought to civilizational processes and the emergence of specific cultural formations (Bogner 1989: 89–185; Petrie 1911), Oswald Spengler’s The Decline of the West is among the earliest works that forcefully propounded the vision of a world made up of distinct civilizations. It was drafted in the years before World War I, first published in German in 1918 (vol. 1) and 1922 (vol. 2), and appeared in an English translation in 1926 (vol. 1) and 1928 (vol. 2).

Why study civilizations? Voices from the twentieth century Spengler’s Decline of the West may serve as a starting point to understand, by way of example, why intellectuals of the twentieth century believed it necessary to study civilizations. Although the notion of ‘race’ plays an important role in this work, Spengler refused to categorize humankind on the basis of biological or physical criteria (Spengler 1926/1928: vol. 2, 165). His vision of culture and history was, as he himself conceded, the product of a contemporary crisis which he understood ‘in the light of the decline of the Classical Age’ (Spengler 1926/1928: vol. 1, xv). Spengler was convinced that this crisis was only comprehensible as ‘the type of a historical change of phase [sic] occurring within a great historical organism of definable compass at the point preordained for it hundreds of years ago’ (Spengler 1926/1928: vol. 1, 47). As a consequence of his effort to understand the ‘morphology’ of world history, Spengler produced probably one of the most idiosyncratic definitions of cultures and civilizations. He believed that ‘the great Cultures [sic] are entities, primary and original, that arise out of the deepest foundations of spirituality’ (Spengler 1926/1928: vol. 2, 169–70). As organisms they are subject to the same life-cycles as living beings and end in a petrified state called ‘civilization’ (Spengler 1926/1928: vol. 1, 31, 104, 109–10). Spengler’s theories elicited strong reactions. The British historian Christopher Dawson, for example, criticized Spengler for completely disregarding the importance of ‘external’ cultural influences and defined Spengler’s oeuvre as a ‘relativist philosophy of history’ that ‘dissolves the unity of history into an unintelligible plurality of isolated and sterile culture processes’ (Dawson 1956a: 385–6). Dawson, however, did not question the civilizational paradigm as such, but the notion that civilizations emerged of their own accord. To him, European as well as Islamic culture/civilization emerged from the Judaeo–Hellenistic syncretistic melting pot of a late antique Mediterranean world that provided the ‘daughter culture’ of Europe with the orbit of Christianity (Dawson 1956a: 385–6; 1956b: 18–19). Attacking nationalist interpretations of history, Dawson argued in 1932 that a civilization is a social organism, which is just as real and far more important than the national unities of which we talk so much. The fact that this truth is not generally realised is due, above all, to the fact that modern history has usually been written from the nationalist point of view. Some of the greatest of the nineteenth-century historians were also apostles of the cult of nationalism, and their histories are often manuals of nationalist propaganda. [. . .] And the result is that each nation claims for itself a cultural unity and self-sufficiency that it does not possess. Each regards its share in the European tradition as an original achievement that owes nothing to the rest, and takes no heed of the common foundation in which its own individual tradition is rooted. And this is no mere academic error. It has undermined 70


and vitiated the whole international life of modern Europe. It found its nemesis in the European war, which represented a far deeper schism in European life than all the many wars of the past, and its consequences are to be seen to-day in the frenzied national rivalries which are bringing economic ruin on the whole of Europe. (Dawson 1956b: 19–20) In line with Dawson’s criticism of racism and extreme nationalism, and also reacting to Spengler’s culturalistic conception of world history, Arnold Toynbee produced one of the most comprehensive macro-historical studies on civilizations. Published between 1934 and 1939 (vols I–VI) and in 1954 (vols VII–X), A Study of History breaks down Spengler’s approach to concrete mechanisms by formulating hypotheses on the genesis, growth as well as the breakdown, disintegration, but also the palingenesis of what Toynbee calls either ‘civilizations’ or ‘societies’ (Toynbee 1987b: 355–93). Toynbee harshly criticizes the racial theories of this period (Toynbee 1987a: 51–5), and speaks out against a strictly national perspective on history. According to Toynbee, no single nation or national state of Europe can show a history which is in itself selfexplanatory. [. . .] The forces in action are not national but proceed from wider causes, which operate upon each of the parts and are not intelligible in their partial operation unless a comprehensive view is taken of their operation throughout the [i.e. Western] society. (Toynbee 1987a: 1–12) In a period marked by the destructive results of nationalist and racist fervour, these three theorists thus emphasized the necessity of observing the history of humankind from a wider angle. Although not devoid of essentializing, Eurocentric or – in the case of Spengler – even racist connotations, their works actively strove to transcend the essentializing ethnopolitical, i.e. racial and nationalist categorizations of their day and to provide a wider approach to the history of humankind in the categories of ‘cultures’ and ‘civilizations’. This should not belittle the ideological dimensions of the concept of civilization in imperialist politics of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Liliana Obregón has emphasized that, parallel to this scholarly engagement with the concept, ‘civilization was closely related to the idea of progress and the theory that nations advance through different stages of development’. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century, many Europeans believed they were endowed with an advanced level of social complexity in opposition to ‘barbarous’ nations, who could possibly acquire civilization if they conformed to certain values, or ‘savages’, who were condemned to never access it. (Obregón 2012: 917) Notions such as the ‘civilizing mission’, bringing about the ‘blessings of civilization’, but also juridically relevant distinctions between civilized and uncivilized nations in emerging frameworks of international law convey an idea of the interdependency of historical theory and international political action at the beginning of the twentieth century (Obregón 2012: 920– 42; cf. Gong 1984). In the post-war period of the late 1950s and the early 1960s, a certain number of scholars again turned to the study of civilizations as meaningful socio-historical entities, elaborating on the historical notions, concepts and mechanisms proposed by Spengler and Toynbee, while integrating recent findings of anthropology and sociology. Among these scholars is Philip 71

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Bagby. His quest to understand ‘whether there is any regularity in the development of civilizations, in their slow growth and their sometimes rapid decline’ is obviously inspired by contemporary anxieties in a period marked by the effects of World War II, decolonization and the Cold War. Published in 1959, his scholarly endeavour seemed to him to be of particular urgency in our times, for a cold wind has blown across Europe, an intuition that European civilization is doomed to go the way of Egypt and of Rome, of Niniveh and Tyre. The loss of faith, the stagnation of the arts, the shattering of the Liberal dream, the catastrophic character of recent wars, all these have seemed to betoken an imminent decline. (Bagby 1959: 22) Bagby’s study was followed in 1961 by Caroll Quigley’s ‘historical analysis’ of the ‘evolution of civilizations’. Strongly inspired by Toynbee, this work still reacts against the nationalist approach to history (Quigley 1961: 29) and proposes to provide the analytical tools necessary to understand the mechanisms of human social development (Quigley 1961: vii). In 1963, Fernand Braudel published what he called a Grammar of Civilizations. It contains a theoretical introduction as well as a very schematic presentation of ‘non-European’ and ‘European’ civilizations, the former encompassing ‘Islam and the Muslim world’, ‘the black continent’ and ‘the Far East’, the latter ‘Europe’, ‘America’ and ‘the other Europe: Moscow, Russia, USSR’. It is in the distinction between ‘Europe’ and ‘the other Europe’ in the east that one can clearly discern a new era that is now in place (Braudel 1993). Scholars working with the conceptual notion of civilizations in the post-war period also became increasingly aware of processes of globalization. Already defined by Bagby in 1959 as the process during which ‘all the surviving civilizations, whether major or secondary, have become peripheral to the Western-European’ (Bagby 1959: 171), the issue of globalization is intrinsically tied to efforts at explaining what William McNeill called The Rise of the West. The Making of a Human Community (McNeill 1963). These efforts, critically monitored by Arab intellectuals (e.g. H anaf ¯ı and al-ʿAẓ m 2002), not only gave rise to alternative ways of ˙ conceptualizing world history, in particular Immanuel Wallerstein’s economically inspired notion of world systems (Wallerstein 1974, 1976: 348). They also encouraged many scholars to invest considerable systematic effort into the comparative study of different civilizations. Among its proponents, we find the many contributors to the journal Comparative Civilizations Review, founded in 1979,4 as well as distinguished scholars such as Shmuel Eisenstadt who introduced important ideas, including Karl Jaspers’ concept of an axial age, to the discussion in the 1980s (Eisenstadt 1986, 1987). When the collapse of the Soviet Union sounded the death knell to the conceptual division of the globe into a ‘first’, ‘second’ and ‘third’ world characteristic of Western Cold War rhetoric, various proposals were made to fill the conceptual void – Francis Fukuyama’s appraisal of Western liberal democracy as the ‘end of history’ among others (Fukuyama 1992). In reaction to this triumphalist Western viewpoint, the notion of a world composed of different civilizations suddenly received wide public attention and became highly politicized. This is partly due to Samuel Huntington who, building on several decades of scholarship, presented his (not so) new focus on ‘cultures’ and ‘civilizations’ as a decisive shift in political paradigms in his essay on the Clash of Civilizations?: World Politics is entering a new phase, and intellectuals have not hesitated to proliferate visions of what it will be – the end of history, the return of traditional rivalries between 72


nation states, and the decline of the nation state from the conflicting pulls of tribalism and globalism, among others. Each of these visions catches aspects of the emerging reality. Yet they all miss a crucial, indeed a central, aspect of what global politics is likely to be in the coming years. It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future. (Huntington 1993: 22) The resuscitated culturalist approach to world history was soon merged with the now dominant paradigm of ‘globalization’. A volume edited in 1995 by Stephen Sanderson entitled Civilizations and World Systems (1995) provides an overview on a field of research that still discusses the propositions of Spengler, Toynbee, Bagby, Quigley and Braudel, among others, but also engages with Wallerstein’s concept of a world system. Elaborating on the idea of a world increasingly growing together, the American political scientist David Wilkinson, for example, introduces the concept of ‘Central Civilization’. He defines it as ‘the lineal descendant’ and ‘the current manifestation’ of a civilization that emerged around 1,500 BCE in the Near East and, as ‘a new fusional entity [which] has since then expanded over the entire planet and absorbed, on unequal terms, all other previously independent civilizations’ (Wilkinson 1995a: 46; 1995b). Such a teleological interpretation of world history did not go uncontested, however. It has not only been challenged by Eisenstadt’s concept of ‘multiple modernities’ (Eisenstadt 2003), but also by widespread fears of an impending economic and political demise of Western societies vis-à-vis Asian rivals. The anticipated superiority of India and China has thus contributed to reviving interest in the preconditions for the rise to power of Western ‘civilization’, e.g. in Niall Ferguson’s Civilization. The Six Killer-Apps of Western Power, a book that clearly caters to the fears of a Euro-American audience and provides neoliberal answers to the question of how the latter can maintain its so far comfortable average living standard in the face of nonWestern competition (Ferguson 2012).

An obsolete paradigm? Transcultural perspectives In Western societies, the study of civilizations is thus closely linked to a particular conceptualization of the world that only seems to have arisen in the course of the nineteenth century in connection with European experiences of global empire-building and an increasingly sophisticated approach to world history. Without supplanting nationalist interpretations of history, experiences in the first half of the twentieth century seem to have led to increasing discontent with hitherto prevalent interpretations of world history in terms of nation or race, and to the formulation of fundamental ideas concerning the rise and fall of civilizations. Building on these foundations, scholars of the post-war period engaged in the comparative study of civilizations and elaborated various new ideas and concepts. The conceptual void left by the demise of the tripolar world-view propagated during the Cold War created the need for new interpretative paradigms, including highly culturalist interpretations of world history, the latter nurtured by Western fears of a loss of global power and influence. The use of the civilizational paradigm has, of course, not gone uncontested (Arnason 2003). In the wake of ‘postcolonial studies’, in line with ‘global studies’, and occasionally with the aim 73

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of explaining and meeting the challenges of an increasingly globalized world (Welsch 1999: 199), scholarship has made increasing efforts to highlight the importance of flows, agency and the permeability of highly diverse cultural systems, deconstructing the notion of monolithic, homogeneous cultural entities rigidly enclosed by Huntington’s ‘cultural faultlines’ (Ernst and Freitag 2014). From this perspective, commonly defined as ‘transcultural’, the conceptualization of world history in terms of cultures or civilizations can be interpreted in different ways: 1




If the study of civilizations is reduced to a ‘colonial’ nineteenth-century, ‘first-world’ or any other form of culturalist approach based on feelings of cultural superiority, that is (ab)used for political reasons, then it seems not only outdated, but essentialist and even politically dangerous. Under these premises, it would have to be regarded as the ideological antithesis to the multifaceted, multipolar and deconstructivist approach heralded by the field of transcultural studies. However, the study of civilizations cannot only be regarded as a political enterprise shrouded in the garb of sophisticated academia. Apart from the fact that a processual definition of civilization is still influential (Bogner 1989; Elias 1992; White 1959: 17–18, 30–1, 69–100), scholarly definitions of civilizations are far from uniform. They rarely circumscribe static and monolithic entities, but rather try to grasp the mechanisms characteristic of what we may call large and complex spatio-temporal socio-cultural systems (cf. Braudel 1993: 41–8, 77–8; Huntington 1996: 41–4, 246–98; Melko 1995: 28–30; Quigley 1961: 28; Sorokin 1957: 24–5, 37–9, 41–3, 47–9, 674–5; Toynbee 1987a: 210–11, 248, 455 – as opposed to Spengler 1926/1928: vol. 1, 31, 104, 206, 179–80; vol. 2, 169–70). Considering the above-mentioned justifications brought forward by some proponents of its study in the twentieth century, the study of civilizations can also be interpreted as an effort to look beyond the confines of hitherto prevalent categorizations, to open the way from a nationalist to a supranational interpretation of world history, and to understand the emergence, functioning, demise and interpenetration of large and complex spatiotemporal socio-cultural systems. From this perspective, the study of civilizations can be considered a forerunner of transcultural studies, both having the aim of deconstructing and transcending cherished nationalist paradigms that – upon intensive reflection – seem to have become inadequate. Although both approaches may have parallel features with regard to their academic objective of deconstruction, there are also marked differences. These permit us to define the study of civilizations as the methodological antithesis to the transcultural approach. Both share a restricted range of thematic fields. However, they are disunited in their epistemological objective and their method of approach. Theorists of civilizations intend to understand the emergence, functioning, maintenance and disintegration of macro-historical phenomena of socio-cultural cohesion. Apart from the fact that they do not use the same terminology, they consider key concepts of transcultural studies such as ‘contact zones’ and ‘third spaces’, processes of ‘transculturation’, ‘hybrid’ phenomena, etc. mainly with regard to their contribution to the integration or disintegration of civilizations (Braudel 1993: 41–8; Dawson 1956a: 385–6; Huntington 1996: 246–98; Iberall and Wilkinson 1993: 73–4, 76; Quigley 1961: 49, 69–74, 79–89; Spengler 1926/1928: vol. 2, 55, 57–8, 169–70; Toynbee 1987a: 49, 403–12, 431, 455; 1987b: 144–260, 383). In addition, their perspective is decidedly different. Whereas proponents of transcultural studies tend to emphasize the methodological necessity of analysing socio-cultural phenomena on various levels and from different angles ( Juneja 2013: 25), theorists of civilizations approach these phenomena


from a macro-historical perspective that tries to understand extremely large social structures from an external point of view, not from within. This ‘authorial’ perspective is also responsible for the fact that theorists of civilization seldom focus on individual constellations and individuals, but rather tend to operate with amorphous masses, styles, ranges of cultural expression, etc. The authorial perspective demands a great deal of abstraction and needs to work with large categories considered too broad by anyone who solely believes in the merits of the micro-historical approach with its focus on detail, its dismissal of generalizations, and its resulting claim to descriptive precision (Magnússon and Szijártó 2013: 147–59). In conclusion, it seems fruitful to consider what the study of civilizations has to offer to the field of transcultural studies. Among its potential contributions we find a number of interesting and provoking ideas, including elaborate models to describe large and long-lived phenomena of socio-cultural cohesion. These models are certainly of relevance to the transcultural approach as part of its conceptual history, i.e. its forerunner and/or antithesis. We should also consider, however, that Fernando Ortiz, one of the ‘founding fathers’ of the transcultural approach, did not only coin the term transculturación to understand complex mechanisms and dynamics of multilateral cultural interaction from different perspectives. Rather, his main objective was to highlight that the cultural processes involved can lead to the creation of qualitatively new forms of socio-cultural cohesion (Ortiz 1983: 86–90). Contemporary phenomena such as the so-called ‘Islamic State’ or various right-wing populist movements – made up of people from various different backgrounds, but united in their rejection of a religious or cultural ‘other’ pertaining to societies that accept a certain degree of religious and cultural pluralism – prove that this aspect of transcultural studies is not of secondary importance. Last but not least, engagement with concepts of civilization could inspire further enquiry into the transcultural dimensions of macro-history, as well as into the methodological relationship between transcultural theory and theoretical efforts to identify macro-historical patterns, thus elaborating on discussions led, for example, by Johann Arnason in his Civilizations in Dispute (2003). Thus, while rejecting blunt conceptions of cultural identity as well as simplistic ideas of the rise and fall of monolithic cultural entities, we may still learn from scholarly works investigating the emergence, functioning, interpenetration, and eventual demise – or rather, transformation – of complex spatio-temporal socio-cultural systems. Critical engagement with such studies – from a transcultural perspective, among others – will show that the ‘fall of Rome’, this popular Western symbol for the rise and fall of civilizations, constitutes only one among many diverse paradigms that serve to explain and understand macro-historical phenomena of socio-cultural cohesion.

Notes 1. See the multi-volume Brill series, ‘Transformation of the Roman World’, the harvest of a project financed by the European Science Foundation between 1993 and 1997. 2. On the deterioration of European civilization and the Islamist reconstruction of the Roman Empire as depicted in the novel, see Houellebecq (2015: 256–7, 271, 278, 289). 3. Since Demandt is referring here not to particular cultural achievements (Hochkultur), but to the succession of large and complex spatio-temporal socio-cultural systems (Hochkulturen), the term ‘civilizations’ seems the most appropriate translation. On the distinction between ‘culture(s)’ and ‘civilization(s)’, see the next section. 4. Journal homepage. Online. Available https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/ccr/ (24 October 2018).


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