Contact Information

Concept Africa
Department of World Cultures
P.O. Box 59
Unioninkatu 38 B
00014 University of Helsinki


Past Seminars

Past Conferences

Past Workshops

Past workshops

Social and Economic Concepts in Eurasian Comparison

Third Meeting of the International Research Group on Conceptual History and Global Translations, Berlin 19-22 October

Monday 19 October

1900 Welcome Dinner in Winter's Hotel Berlin (where conference participants stay)

Tuesday 20 October

0900 Welcome Margrit Pernau, Bo Stråth

0920-1040 Arabian Case Ilham Makdisi

1040-1100 Coffee Break

1100-1220 Korea and Thailand Park Myoungkyu, Morakot Jewachinda-Meyer

1220-1400 Lunch Break

1400-1520 Indonesian and Malaysia Leena Avonius, Paula Pannu

1520-1640 General Discussion
Input: Hagen Schulz-Forberg

1640-1700 Coffee Break

1700-1900 Round Table on Global Conceptual History Public Debate
Chair: Bo Stråth
Impulse: Margrit Pernau
Discussion: Jan Ifversen, Dominic Sachsenmaier

1930 Dinner

Wednesday 21 October

0900-1040 Chinese Cases Hailong Tian, Dominic Sachsenmaier, Chen Qineng, Jiang Peng

1040-1100 Coffee Break

1100-1240 Indian Cases Mohinder Singh, Rochona Majumdar, Klaus Karttunen

1240-1400 Lunch

1400-1600 Panel Discussion
Chair: Bo Stråth

1600-1620 Coffee Break

1620-1730 The Road to Damascus: Milestones, Goals, Tasks

1800 Guided Tour Through Berlin-Kreuzberg

2000 Dinner

Conceptual Histories of the World and Global Translations:
The Conceptualization of the Social in Eurasian Comparison

Sponsored by Kone Foundation, Helsinki and Asia-Europe Foundation Courtyard by Marriott

Bangkok March 2-5,2009

Conveners: Morakot Jewachinda Meyer, Srinakarinwirot University and Bo Stråth, the University of Helsinki

Monday, 2 March, 2009

Venue: Erawan I & II Room

15.00-15-30 hrs
Opening note Bo Stråth

15.30 -16.30 hrs
Moving beyond Nationalism? The Idea of the Social in the Thought of Thai Politicians and Intellectuals in the mid-20th Century Morakot Jewachinda Meyer

16.30-17. 00 hrs
Coffee break at Foyer

17.00-18.00 hrs
The First Presentation on Indonesia (no paper) Leena Avonius

18.00-19.00 hrs
The First Presentation on Malaysia and Singapore (no paper) Paula Pannu

Dinner at MoMo Café

Tuesday, 3 March, 2009

Venue : Erawan I & II Room

9.00 hrs
Conceptualization of the Social in Colonial North India Mohinder Singh ,The Conceptual History of the Social in India : Some Reflections out of Colonial Bengal Rochona Majumdar

11.00 hrs
Coffee Break at Foyer

11.30 hrs
Sabha-Samaj-Society: Some Linguistic Considerations Klaus Karttunen

12.30 hrs
Lunch at MoMo Café

13.30 hrs
Conceptualisation of ,Social? around 1910 in China: An outline Hailong Tian "Notions of Society in Early Twentieth Century China, ca 1900-1925 Dominic Sachsenmaier

15.30 hrs
Coffee Break at Foyer

16.00 hrs
A Preliminary Note on the Social in Japan, 1885-1938 Mikako Iwatake

19.30-23.30 hrs
Dinner at MoMo Café

Wednesday, 4 March, 2009

Venue : Erawan I & II Room

9.00 hrs
The Conceptualization of the Social in late 19th early 20th Century Arabic Thought and Language Ilham Makdisi

11.00 hrs
Coffee Break at Foyer

11.30 hrs
Conceptualizing the Laboring Society (Arbeitsgesellschaft) without Laboring Classes during the Early Republican Period in Turkey: Piecemeal Consolidation of a Solidarist Definition of Society Asli Odman

12.30 hrs
Lunch at MoMo Café

13.30 hrs
The Conceptualisation of the Social in Europe's Northern Periphery - 'Society' in Nordic Political Discourses Pauli Kettunen

15.00 hrs
Coffee Break at Foyer

15.30 hrs
Final Discussion Hagen Schulz-Forberg and Morakot Jewachinda Meyer

17.45 hrs
Depart from the CY hotel

19.00-22.00 hrs
Cruise Dinner by the Oriental Hotel

Dyala Hamzah
Jan Ifversen
Lars Magnusson
Carl Marklund
Margrit Pernau
Hagen Schulz-Forberg
Bo Stråth

Conceptual Histories of the World and Global Translations in Bangkok 2-5 March 2009

This workshop was co-organised by the Helsinki University (Bo Stråth) and Srinakarinwirot University, Bangkok (Morakot Jewachinda Meyer) in the framework of the Asia Europe Workshop Series in Bangkok 2-5 March 2009. The meeting was co-sponsored by ASEF and the Finnish KONE Foundation. There were some 20 participants, about half from Europe and half from Asia.

The workshop was the second meeting of a working group on a Eurasian comparison of the conceptualisation of the social and the economic and the semantic field emerging around these two key concepts. The first meeting was held in Helsinki in October, 2008. The target of the project is the conceptualisations and imaginations of the social and the economic in various European and Asian languages. A parallel working group is about to be established for African languages. The semantics of these two spheres are conventionally departing from Western conceptualisations with an origin in the Antique World. This Western provenience is arguably problematic in a global world without a Western centre. The project aims to establish a transnational epistemological horizon, towards which European and Asian conceptualisations of the social and the economic are related on an equal basis. The crucial question is to what extent the Western bias can be transgressed and how global communication across cultures and civilisations can be established.

The horizon the project wants to establish is not one where the Asian conceptualisations are played off against the European but one where European and Asian semantics are entangled in historical processes. A frequent argument in the postcolonial critique deals with a continuous Eurocentric agenda and that therefore full autonomy must be based on interruption of communication under development of indigenous discourse. The project wants to challenge this argument and search for possibilities of a non-Eurocentric transcultural dialogue.

The contributions explored the conceptualisation of the social in Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian, Arabic and Turkish languages with a focus on empirical cases and with the methodology of conceptual history. Korea is also represented in the group although there was no contribution at the Bangkok meeting. The discussions in Bangkok went very well with active and devoted contributions by the participants. Those who did not give papers acted as discussants. Morakot Jewachinda Meyer and her team at the Srinakarinwirot University stood for an excellent organisation of the meeting, which brought the project considerably forward as compared to the first meeting in Helsinki six months ago. The contributions were this time much more precise after the tentative start in Helsinki, and the contours of a publication emerged. After one or two more meetings the plan is to publish a volume on the conceptualisation of the social in various Asian languages.

Morakot Jewachinda Meyer discussed in her opening paper the idea of the social in the thought of three Thai politicians and intellectuals in the mid-20th Century. The three decades (1930s-1950s) mark the time when the Western concept of the 'social' became gradually a part of the Thai general discourses on the stratification of the country, on relations between people, and questions of development. 'Sangkom', a lexicon creation from Sanskrit for the terms 'social' and 'society', sporadically appeared in books published in the early1930s.However, 'Sangkom' was mentioned only one time in 'The Politics and Government of the Siam Kingdom' written by a prominent intellectual, politician and prolific writer, Wichit Wichitwattakan. By contrast, his contemporary Pridi Banomyong whom he had gained acquaintance in Paris and now an important figure in the Siamese democratic politics, used 'nation' (Chat) and 'country'(Prathet) while he adapt the concepts of the 'social' from some countries in Europe to propose a social reform in his seminal and half-century-long controversial 'Outline Economic Plan. Two decades later, the term 'Sangkom' became a more common word and more widely used. Even Pridi himself turned to replace the terms 'nation' and 'country' with 'Sangkom'. Furthermore, the widespread of the term 'Sangkom' was inextricably linked with the conceptualization of the social in Thailand with the Marxist approach by Jit Poumisak.

Mohinder Singh argued under reference to German conceptual historian Reinhart Koselleck in his contribution that significant semantic change is more likely to occur during politically charged times - times perceived as time of crisis or emergency - than during relatively normal times. The 19th century was such a historical moment in India when a reconceptualization of the social took place in all its regions. In many modern vernaculars of India like Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, the Sanskrit terms samaj and samajik came to acquire new meanings in order to express the new conceptualization of the social during this period. The semantic change in these terms should be understood in their relation to similar change that happens to the closely related terms such as dharma (religion), rajniti (politics), sarkar (governement) etc. - terms which together reflect an emergence of a new conceptual field corresponding to the changes in social history.

Rochona Majumdar and Klaus Karttunen presented other papers on India, Majumdar on the conceptualisation of society and Karttunen gave a social or anthroplogical linguistic-oriented analysis of the long-term etymological derivation of various expressions of the social in Sanskrit. Hailong Tian and Dominic Sachsenmaier analysed the conceptualisation of China in the interwar years and Mikako Iwatake the Japanese development in this respect. Paula Panni made an outline of a paper on Malaysia for the next meeting of the group and Leena Avonius did the same for Indonesia. Then also Park Myoungkyu will participate with a paper on Korea.