Political Concepts

Via geographical imaginations, here is a link to an online journal, Political Concepts, “a multidisciplinary, web-based journal that seeks to be a forum for engaged scholarship. Each lexical entry will focus on a single concept with the express intention of resituating it in the field of political discourse by addressing what has remained unquestioned or unthought in that concept”. Some interesting family resemblances, in fact, between this project and the Keywords Project , although also perhaps some distinguishing features too – that emphasis on “addressing what has remained unquestioned or unthought” about concepts implies a more obvious ‘critical’ methodology perhaps than the kind of almost philological attention to ordinary usages that might underwrite the concept of ‘keywords’. It seems to me that this sort of methodological difference is worthwhile acknowledging, and thinking through further.

Keywords Project

OELHere is an interesting website for a project developing the analysis of Keywords, after Raymond Williams – I’ve only just seen this, via Progressive Geographies. Includes, amongst other things, an interesting entry on ‘urban‘, as well as videos (High Theory from the 1980s) and other resources – including considerations of the relationship between Williams’ methodology and that of William Empson (I’ve always liked Empson’s notion of the ‘compacted doctrine’, although it’s a bit more arty than Williams’ notion).

The video material is great – mostly from the 1986 conference that generated the collection The Linguistics of Writing, which when I was little was one of the most mind-blowing things I read – it includes a snippet of Mary Louise Pratt talking about the ‘linguistics of contact’, a theme from her auto-critique of speech act theory and other ‘linguistic utopias’ which is one of the backgrounds to the her work on colonial and postcolonial ‘contact zones’ (in my head, I sometimes think of myself as having written a PhD inspired by discovering the connection between these two facets of Pratt’s work; then again, sometimes I remember it as being about the difference, so to speak, between Derrida and Ricoeur. I’m not sure it ended up looking like either). Anyway, all still good stuff, and not only for nostalgic reasons, if you’re at all still interested in things like the ordinary, pragmatics, and other backwaters of Theoryland.