III Congreso Internacional Historia a Debate Santiago de Compostela

IV Congreso Internacional Historia a Debate
Santiago de Compostela, 15-19 de diciembre de 2010


Ponencias aceptadas


Secc. I.2. Innovaciones paradigmáticas (historia mundial como historia global)


Andreas Leutzsch (University of Bielefeld, Germany)


Universal History in times of Crisis


"The revolutions of mankind create new time-spans for our life on earth. They give man’s soul a new relation between present, past and future; and by doing so they give us time to start our life on earth all over again, with a new rhythm and a new faith. For ordering the three dimensions of time, we need what St. Ambrose called the times of times, temporum tempora, standards for making the right distribution between past, future and present. […] Modern men talk so much about the three dimensions of space that they are ignorant of the fact itself that space has nothing of the tremendous triplicity of dimensions which time contains" (Rosenstock-Huessy, Out of revolution, p.14)

At the end of the 20th century two theories made the headlines globally. On the one hand Francis Fukuyama declared the End of History and on the other Samuel P. Huntington predicted a Clash of civilizations. At first glance both arguments are based on a universal historical view of mankind, but whereas Fukuyama saw a self-fulfilling prophecy in the political and economical progress of the Western history, Huntington discussed this progress as a cultural challenge for Non-western societies.

Nevertheless, both observations depend on the construction of one world as a social space. In other words the spatial (re-)construction of civilizations (Huntington) means the temporal construction of one social reality (Fukuyama) the other way around. In the focus of my investigation will be the difference between these trajectories in one process of global transition.

In my paper I would like to discuss a) the theoretical traditions of both authors, b) the time and space concepts they use for constructing past and future c) the influence the revolution of 1989 had on their diagnosis and­last not least­ d) whether and how their concepts help to understand the current crisis from a historical perspective. My starting points are

a) The Theoretical traditions Fukuyama was influenced by Kojève’s interpretation of Hegel. It is illuminative that Kojève’s interpretation itself was a product of a crisis.

In the Age of Extremes Kojève interpreted Hegel’s dialectic as a linear history to a better­liberal­future at the End of History. On the contrary, Huntington used Fernand Braudel’s concept of the Clash of Civilizations in the Mediterranean for another construction of the Decline of the West (Spengler).

b) The Time and Space Structures Whereas, Fukuyama stresses the role of (world-) events in history, Huntington points out the role of cultural structures­long lasting processes­in history. The difference between the temporal and spatial concepts raises the questions How do temporal structures configure historical analyzes, and what kind of normative implications are hidden behind the temporality of space?

c) Hope and Fear, Optimism and Pessimism, Change and Stability, Chance and Threat we can find many phrases for characterizing the bipolarity of a crisis.Therefore, it seems promising to analyze what kind of (normative) diagnoses do both authors develop in their theories (historically) and how these diagnoses have contributed to the making of history in the last decades.

d) 1989-2001-20xx While the 1990s seemed to be the age of liberalism it is hard to say whether the last decade was an Age of conservatism or fundamentalism. For some people the comeback of prohibition, nationalism, observation and torture are indices for the transition of (welfare) states into big brother states. But, in our days, the economic crisis shows how weak these strong states sometimes are.Therefore, it could be useful to analyze Fukuyama's and Huntington's diagnoses as sources for a change in Global and/or Western norms and values­the, so called, institutions.Both Master narratives include a Eurocentric perspective and a differentiation of time and space. At the End of the paper, therefore, I will discuss the problem of such kind of temporal constructions of space concerning historiography in general. Therefore, the paper could fit to one of the Thematic Sections about Global Historiography.

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