SAECULUM. Jahrbuch für Universalgeschichte

Volume 70 (2020), number 2

Contributions: Anniversary Issue “Vergleich. 70 Jahre Saeculum”

Beat Schweizer: Gräber als Ressourcen kollektiver Identitäten in vergleichender Perspektive. Zu Grabbefunden archaischer Zeit der italischen Halbinsel auf der Basis der Diskussionen zum Vergleich in Ethnologie, Geschichtswissenschaften und Archäologie
This contribution compares graves as resources of social groups of the Italian peninsula between the 7th and 3rd century BCE. In the first part, discourses on comparison in cultural and historical studies are presented. For ethnology and history, the shifting interest from generalizing or macro-sociologically oriented comparisons to contextual and processual comparisons is described. These developments coincided with changes of research topics: from correlations of cultural elements to homogeneously conceived cultures, societies, or nations to processes around social and cultural contexts, for which interdependencies and relationships are also considered. In archaeology, comparison was discussed, on the one hand, primarily in terms of classification, and, on the other hand, in terms of analogies as asymmetrical comparisons.
In the second part, recent conceptualizations of ethnology and history are applied to two archaeological case studies. The Heroon of Poseidonia/Paestum and necropolises of Caere at the site of today’s Cerveteri are described as resources in the broad sense of media for construction, but also for preservation and transformation of social groups’ identities. Based on a contrasting comparison from this perspective, the final section focuses on alternative explanations of historical processes of development and their respective materiality.

Wolfgang Reinhard: Resonanzsensibilität von Kulturen
This article seeks to complement Hartmut Rosa’s stimulating book on resonance theory from an intercultural or, in a present-day term, transcultural perspective. This approach is chosen here because societies can vary extremely with regard to their mutual cultural sensitivity. This fact entailed important historical consequences. The article first presents Rosa’s concept of resonance (1), then provides a brief working definition of culture (2). After offering a general proposition on transcultural resonance sensitivity (3), the article discusses early modern preconditions of cultural interaction between Europe and Latin America as well as between Europe and East Asia. The pre-modern world most likely left more comparable patterns of cultural identity than our present world of largely unified global culture (4). Three histories of resonance between Europe, on the one hand, and Japan, China and Spanish America, on the other (5) form the basis of some general conclusions in the final section.

Ulrich Veit: Die „ethnographische Analogie“: Aufstieg und Niedergang eines heuristischen Schemas in der deutschsprachigen Urgeschichtsforschung im 20. Jahrhundert
In retrospect, “ethnographic analogy” may be regarded as one of the central concepts of research in prehistory under the influence of positivism during the late 19th century. As a heuristic principle for the interpretation of archaeological finds and other archaeological structures (palaeolithic parietal and mobile art, neolithic monumental architecture, bronze and iron age grave inventories) this form of asymmetric cultural comparison continued to develop in the 19th century, but it retained its relevance for archaeological reasoning even under the different epistemological conditions of the 20th century (historicism, functionalism, processualism, early post-processualism). During this period, several attempts were undertaken by prehistorians to develop a method of analogical inference based on this principle. But all these attempts ultimately failed because from a heuristic principle, no lawlike conclusions can be drawn. As a consequence, the principle of analogical reasoning increasingly came under critique. The criticism reflects some of the fundamental epistemological changes that took place within Prehistoric Archaeology during the 20th century. Mainly from a history of science perspective and with a focus on debates conducted within the german context, this paper presents the relevant arguments made in favour of and against “ethnographic analogy”. It thus sheds new light on the special historical conditions that led to the development, flourishing, and crisis of this important heuristic principle.

Manfred K.H. Eggert: Die Ur- und Frühgeschichtliche Archäologie 1950–2020. Von antiquarischer Selbstgenügsamkeit zu komparatistischer Praxeologie
This paper attempts to provide an overview of the development of German-language pre- and protohistoric archaeology between 1950 and 2020. On the one hand, this time period coincides with Saeculum’s 70 years of existence, to which, marking this year’s anniversary, the current issue and this article are devoted. In addition, the first textbook of prehistoric archaeology after the Second World War was published by Christian Pescheck in 1950. As is obvious from the subtitle of this contribution, I am mainly concerned with the kind of theoretical approach that the discipline has been using in dealing with the archaeological record over the past 70 years. The journal lends itself especially for the reflections presented here since, in 1967, Edward Sangmeister chose it to publish his programmatic treatise on “Methods of Prehistoric Archaeology”.

Stephan Conermann/Miriam Quiering: Der Transkulturelle Vergleich – ein Bericht aus dem Inneren von Verbundprojekten
From within two major projects funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft), this article reports on chances and opportunities as well as limits and challenges of transcultural comparisons. Especially the postcolonial criticism of eurocentrism has presented transcultural studies with a dilemma that has yet to be resolved, since the object of comparison and the tertium comparationis are typically identified from a European point of view. By examining five edited volumes published in the context of the Collaborative Research Center “Power and Rule – Premodern Configurations in a Transcultural Perspective” (SFB 1167) between 2016 and 2020, this paper aims at critically assessing the methods, theoretical approaches and research findings of the project and at making them available for future comparative projects. The cluster of excellence “Beyond Slavery and Freedom. Asymmetrical Dependencies in Pre-Modern Societies” (EXC 2036), inaugurated in 2019, likewise aspires to look into different cultural areas and historical periods from a comparative perspective. Because it is obviously still too early for an evaluation of this project, the report on current experiences with an edited volume on slavery in the Ottoman empire, edited by Gül Sen and Stephan Conermann in 2020, is complemented by an analysis of two volumes on the topic of debt slavery, edited by Gwyn Campbell and Alessandro Stanziani. The hitherto unsuccessful attempts at reaching an adequate definition of slavery leave it questionable as an object of comparison. This puts the focus on the question of how far asymmetrical dependencies and, in the case of Campbell and Stanziani, various forms of debt slavery can serve as a suitable tertium comparationis for transcultural slavery studies.

Stefanie Samida: Kollektives Sammeln in Zeiten des Übergangs
The paper focuses on the analysis of a phenomenon that can be described as collective collecting of the present and is closely linked to transitional processes that are perceived by contemporaries as crises. The analysis will use two case studies – the end of the German Democratic Republic in 1989/90 and the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 –, adopting a comparative and broad historical-cultural studies perspective. The analysis shows that we are dealing here with processes of accelerated musealisation (Musealisierung) and historicisation (Historisierung) of the living present, on the one hand, and with an “ethnographisation” (Ethnographisierung) of everyday life, on the other. Finally, the process of collective collecting is considered under the premise of what the sociologist Hartmut Rosa describes as “making the world available”.