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The Resonance of “Culture”: Framing a Problem in Global Concept-History

  • Andrew Sartori (a1)

In the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, “culture” achieved the status of a truly global concept. We find discourses of “culture” emerging to prominence in the German-speaking world during the second half of the eighteenth century (with the closely associated linguistic arenas of the Netherlands and Scandinavia rapidly following suit); in the English-speaking world starting in the first half of the nineteenth century; in Eastern Europe, East Asia, and South Asia starting in the second half of the nineteenth century; and just about everywhere else in the course of the twentieth century. “Culture” began to circulate far beyond the European sites of its modern genesis, sometimes through the direct transfer of lexical items from Western European languages (e.g., Russian kulءtura; the use of kalcar in various South Asian languages); and more often through the construction of new translative equivalencies with preexisting words or concepts most often signifying purification, refinement, or improvement (e.g., Japanese bun-ka; Chinese wen-hua; Bangla and Hindi sanskriti; Urdu tamaddun).

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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