Working Papers

Working Paper #1 – Jeffrey Swindle

THE CULTURAL MODEL OF A DEVELOPMENTAL HIERARCHY OF SOCIETIES

Abstract: Cultural models of development and of a developmental hierarchy of societies have powerfully shaped world history, providing motivation and justification for colonialism, religious evangelism, nationalism, foreign aid, and international policymaking. I analyze the level of prominence of the cultural model of a developmental hierarchy during the past three centuries. To do this, I use the largest text corpus available, the Google Ngram Database, to analyze the frequency at which words and phrases indicative of this cultural model appeared in books. I find that such language permeated books throughout the past three centuries, but that the level of permeation varied substantially over time. Interestingly, the level of permeation within fiction books differed significantly from that of books in general, particularly in the twentieth century. In addition, the popularity of certain developmental hierarchy terms changed during the middle of the twentieth century, as previously dominant terms (i.e. ‘savages’ and ‘civilized societies’) fell out of favor and a new set of terms (i.e. ‘developing’ and ‘developed countries’) rose in popularity. Thus, the cultural model of a developmental hierarchy was widespread among authors of books, and books were likely a key medium of diffusion for this model. However, during different historical epochs and within particular types of books the cultural model of a developmental hierarchy fluctuated in prominence. More broadly, these findings imply that certain historical periods have been particularly critical in the emergence of world culture.Keywords: development, developmental hierarchy, cultural models, world culture, ngram


Working Paper #2 – Fiona Rose-Greenland

LOOTERS, COLLECTORS, AND A PASSION FOR ANTIQUITIES AT THE MARGINS OF ITALIAN SOCIETY

Abstract: Unearthing old objects was for centuries a widespread activity in Italy. Artifacts were removed from the soil and re-incorporated into the social realm as votives, chits, and treasure. Women and men knowledgeable about old things and old places were respected repositories of history. The 20th century brought significant changes to this sphere of cultural activity: archaeology became a professionalized discipline, regulated by the state, and artifacts became scientific objects belonging to the Italian nation. Today, unauthorized excavators risk prosecution, fines, and imprisonment. In this paper I ask: What is the effect of state power on the use and circulation of antiquities by unauthorized excavators and collectors? How do the men and women who inhabit the cultural margins distinguish themselves from each other? My analysis draws on ethnographic data and textual analysis of newspaper articles concerning tombaroli or “tomb robbers.” I focus on marginalized cultural production, a key dimension that is missing from most accounts of looters. Keywords: Antiquities; beni culturali; black market; cultural policy; social marginalization; tombaroli


Working Paper #3 – Richard Lachmann and Fiona Rose-Greenland

WHY WE FELL: DECLINIST WRITING AND THEORIES OF IMPERIAL FAILURE IN THE LONGUE DURÉE


Working Paper #4 – Ben Merrimen

DUELS IN THE EUROPEAN NOVEL: HONOR, REPUTATION, AND THE LIMITS OF A BOURGEOIS FORM

Abstract: Sociologists and literary theorists have long viewed the novel, especially the realist novel, as a bourgeois literary form. This article examines the temporal and class specificity of the novel form by examining duels of honor as a plot feature in twenty European novels. Though duels commonly appear in novels written from the French Revolution to the end of World War I, these narratives diverge sharply from the historical realities and social logic of duels. In practice, duels were a ritual form of conflict resolution intended to preserve status equality in honor groups. In novels, duels are a violent means of escalating interpersonal conflict for the pursuit of individual interests. The tension between the fictional representation and social reality of dueling is important in two ways. First, it illustrates the historical and social specificity of the novel as a cultural product. Second, the divergence marks out social structural differences between honor and reputation as measures of individual worth, and consequent conflicts between noble and bourgeois value systems. Keywords: class; duels; honor; novels; social form; violence