Historical anthropology of politics

Politics did not only interfere in spheres traditionally considered as high culture, but simultaneously needed some less sophisticated devices to deliver messages to a broader public. Papers dealing with the representation of authority to the ruled, the reception of signs and symbols of power through popular culture are to be discussed at panels organized within the broad theme of historical anthropology of politics. In these cases, culture shall be considered in a wider sense, meaning not only artefacts, but also behaviour, language or attitude, as these also constitute an important way of making power cognisable. The "ritualization" of political action in order to express power relationships is to be explored here: a certain set of characteristic actions and norms in which a political culture represents itself. However, the interference should be viewed as mutual, as representation affects the possibilities of political action: constant negotiation is going on between these two spheres, with a permanent re-definition of the borders between the possible and impossible.

Also, the study of politics receives further impulses from symbolic geography. Politicians were among the most important producers of the image of “the Other,” especially in the early modern period, when diplomats and their entourage were the only travellers to some regions to leave behind written testimony. Politics is also one of the most important, and certainly among the most influential, consumers of the stereotypical images of the Others, and thus, the production and application of stereotypes should equally well be analysed as significant components of the new European histories of politics.

Possible panels within this area