City & Region Ils 169: Volume 2 (International Library of Sociology)

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From onwards, the Pugwash Conferences brought together elite scientists from across ideological and political divides to work towards disarmament. Uniquely, the book affords a sense of the contingent and contested process by which the network-like organization took shape around the conferences. The Fatimids 10th - 12th centuries C.

E are known to have been the first Shiite caliphal dynasty and to have founded Cairo, the city that became their capital in when they left Tunisia for Egypt. During their reign, the Fatimids built an effective war fleet that inflicted several defeats on Christian navies. This is the first study on the Fatimid naval force and, more generally, on the role of the sea for the Fatimids whose territories touched both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea.

The documentation presented in this study demonstrates how, in the course of two centuries, this Ismaeli dynasty set up a maritime policy and developed a communication strategy in which their control of the sea helped legitimize their universalist claims against competing powers. Les Fatimides 10e e s. A crucial collection of new insights into a topic too often ignored in military history: the close interrelationship between cities and warfare throughout modern history.

Cities have likewise been shaped by war, whether transformed for the purposes of military production, reconstructed after bombardment, or renewed as sites for remembering the costs of war. This conference volume draws on the latest research in military and urban history to understand the critical intersection between war and cities. Based on the comprehensive study of the epigraphic and literary evidence, this book challenges the almost universally-held assumptions of modern scholarship on the date of origin, the function, and the purpose of the Athenian ephebeia.

The Translator 3 1 : 55— Morascher, Arnold. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Graz: Diplomarbeit. Newmark, Peter. Paragraphs on translation. Siting Translation. History, Post-Structuralism, and the Colonial Con- text. Berkeley and Los Angeles etc. Parks, Gerald. Rivista internazionale di tecnica della traduzione 3: 25— Introducing Interpreting Studies. Kelly, A.

Martin, M. Nobs et al. Granada: Editorial Atrio. In Und sie bewegt sich doch… Translationswissenschaft in Ost und West. Geburtstag, I. New York and Oxford etc.

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Riccardi eds. Grundlegung einer allgemeinen Translationstheorie. Risku, Hanna. Translatorische Kompetenz. In Translationswissenschaft. Geburtstag, K. Kaindl, F. Kadric eds. Interkulturelle Fachkommunikation im Informa- tionszeitalter. Robinson, Douglas. Translation and Empire. Postcolonial Theories Explained. Schneiders, Hans-Wolfgang. Die Ambivalenz des Fremden. Bonn: Romanistischer Verlag. Simon, Sherry.

Gender in Translation. Cultural identity and the politics of transmission. Simon, Sherry and St-Pierre, Paul eds. Changing the Terms. Translating in the Postcolo- nial Era. Translation Studies. An integrated approach. Revised Edition. Am- sterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Stand und Perspektiven ihrer Erforschung, H. Kittel ed. Language and Intercultural Com- munication 3 2 : — Tymoczko, Maria. Translation in a Postcolonial Context. Manchester: St Jerome Publish- ing.

Tymoczko, Maria and Gentzler, Edwin eds. Translation and power. Amherst and Bos- ton: University of Massachusetts Press. Venuti, Lawrence ed. Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology. Zur Integrierung von Theorie und Praxis, M. Snell-Hornby ed. Skizzen zu einer Geschichte der Translation. Band 1. A skopos theory of translation Some arguments for and against.

Heidel- berg: TcT-Verlag. TTR XV 2 : 45— Bonito Couto Pereira and M. Guarnieri Atik eds. Pym, Z. Shlesinger eds. Zuber, Roger. Paris: Collins. Translation, irritation and resonance Theo Hermans University College London, United Kingdom I seek to work from a textual approach to a view of translation as a social sys- tem. I start by positing a strong notion of equivalence and show that transla- tions cannot be equivalent to their originals unless they are recognized as au- thenticated versions, at which point they have ceased to be translations.

Reading translations for what they say about translation, i. As a system, translation has its autonomy, in the form of operational closure, autopoiesis and self-reference, and its heteronomy, in that it caters for other systems and adapts to their topics and discursive forms as its other-reference.

Its function is meta-representational, the production of repre- sentations of representations, and typically verbal re-enactments of pre-existing discourses. Can we imagine translation without translators? However perverse it may seem in the context of understanding translation as a social practice, I should like to sketch a sociological perspective on translation that chooses to write translators out of the picture.

Still, let me begin with translators. We can then watch them disappear, not once, but twice. Equivalence and intertextuality First, here are three scenarios, assembled around the well-worn issue of equiva- lence. I present them very briefly, because they serve merely as the run-up to other things. Everyone who is even remotely familiar with the history of translation in the West will know the story of the ancient Septuagint. The story of the miracle evidently serves the purpose of investing the Greek rendition with a status equal to that of the Hebrew original. For Saint Augustine, God spoke with the same intent and with equal authority in both versions.

Perhaps not everyone who has read around in more recent translation his- tory has come across the story of the Book of Mormon, very similar to that of the Septuagint but even more spectacular. The detail of how in the s Joseph Smith managed to translate an unknown script from a collection of gold plates which he had dug up following the directions of the angel Moroni, would take too long here see Hill ; Persuitte ; Robinson 54— They have not been seen since.

The physical removal of the original emphatically sealed the divine pronouncement, the proclamation from on high which endowed the translation with a value equal to that of the original. The pronouncement, that is, made translation and original equivalent. In so doing it enabled the translation to dis- place the original, which indeed was no longer needed and could be taken away without loss.

If not everyone interested in the recent and current history of translation knows about the Convention of Vienna, this is unfortunate, because in one way or another it affects every country on the globe, and therefore every one of us as citizens. Such treaties normally exist in the form of parallel texts in several languages. If some of these versions have come into existence as translations, they cease to be translations as soon as the multilingual treaty is agreed by the relevant parties as constituting one single legal instrument.

From that moment onwards the translations become versions which all possess equal value in law and are, on that basis, presumed to have the same meaning. The perspective I am adopting here is that a translation that, in a particular institutional context, has successfully been declared equivalent with its parent text, is no longer a translation. It has graduated to a version on a par with other versions among them the original original , all of which are deemed to be equally authori- tative, animated by the same authorial intent and therefore presumed to have the same meaning.

The Book of Mormon dramatized the point by spiriting away the now redundant original. The Convention of Vienna forbids those interpreting au- thenticated versions of an international treaty from privileging a version known to have served at an earlier stage as a source of translation for the other version s. Doing so would undermine authentication, which institutes legal parity. One obvious consequence of authentication is that, having instituted equiv- alence, it does away with translation.

And where there is no translation, there cannot be a translator. A successful declaration of equivalence spells the end of translation and evicts the translator. Joseph Smith and the seventy who penned the Septuagint acted as mere conduits for divine messages. The twenty versions of the amalgamated EU treaty do not have names of translators appended to them. At least three things follow from this.

Firstly, translations cannot be equiva- lent to their originals. They may pursue equivalence, as many translations do, but if they attain it they cease to be translations. Upon fulfilling their most ambitious aim, at the moment of sublimation, they self-destruct, and the translator vanishes with them. Secondly, for as long as translations fall short of their highest ambition and continue to function as translations, they cannot be definitive. Translations are repeatable, they can be attempted again and again. This point needs a brief illustration. Any translation will do for the purpose, so the choice of example is immaterial.

Let me pick one that is more explicit than most. She had seen the standard translation of the diary, by B. Mooyaart-Doubleday, and had felt unhappy with it. Having done what she regarded as a better job, she requested permission from the copyright holder to print her rendering — but was refused. Mightily annoyed but faced with no alternative except that of dropping the entire chapter from the book, she reproduced the Mooyaart-Doubleday rendering.

Materiality, Social Structures, and Action

However, she decid- ed to pepper the Mooyaart-Doubleday translation with her own suggestions for improvement. They appear in italics and between square brackets and accolade marks, as shown above. Now, if Nussbaum had simply reproduced the Mooyaart-Doubleday transla- tion without adding her own suggestions, it would have looked like this: I must keep my head high and be brave, those thoughts will come, not once, but oh, countless times. Believe me, if you have been shut up for a year and a half, it can get too much for you some days. Of course, Nussbaum would have much preferred to be able to print her own ren- dering.

Had she been granted permission to do so, it would have looked like this: I must keep my head high and be brave, those thoughts will come all the same, not once, but oh, countless times. Believe me, if you have been confined for a year and a half, it can get too much for you some days. Even if the polemic is less visibly marked in this last version, it too engages the other translation critically, and it does so over the head of the original.

It does more than that. It opens up an intertextual dimension specific to the domain of translation. In other words, the translation invokes not just another translation, but other translations, and, by extension, translation as a generic and historical category. A new translation may seek to replace one or more others but it will not be the last in line and it may in turn be overtaken by others. Further alternative renderings remain possible. Let me delve into this issue a little more.

In any given translation there is a latent gesturing towards additional possi- bilities and alternative renderings. This gesturing accompanies individual trans- lations insofar as they can always be attempted again and differently. The text of a translation as we read it on the page represents a series of choices that in turn point up a large virtual reservoir in which all the unselected, excluded but potentially valid alternative choices are stored. Each re-translation taps into the reservoir, without, of course, ever exhausting it. While the production of a new translation shows the underlying original to be translatable, the provisionality of the rendering intimates the dimension of the untranslatable, understood here as the impossibility of arriving at a definitive version — because a definitive version, as suggested earlier, would spell the end of translation.

Consequently, while no translation can act as sole representative of a given original, every translation can lay claim to be a representation of it, in the dou- ble sense of the word: representation as proxy as speaking or standing in for, as mouthpiece, delegate, ambassador and as resemblance replica, copy, mirror- image, simulation, interpretation. Retranslations can challenge any existing translation. The modern world possesses an instrument that can put a stop to the poten- tially endless profusion of retranslations.

The instrument has a name. It is called copyright law. It can halt the dissemination of rival versions by granting one ver- sion the exclusive right to act as proxy, and therefore as the only permitted not: the only possible! Copyright law can also be used to prevent translation as such. More precisely: it can prevent translations from entering the public domain.

When copyright expires, the free-for-all resumes. In this way copyright law serves as a reminder that the untranslatability I mentioned above is rolled out over time. It can be held up for a while, for a century or so, but is unstoppable in the longer term, as each transla- tion harbours the potential for retranslations. Put differently: as translation re- mains forever repeatable and provisional, every particular rendering potentializes others.

In the same way the choices made in individual translations merely tem- poralize the excluded alternatives; it puts them on a reserve list. Social systems In talking of things like copyright law and temporalization, social and historical horizons come into view. What does translation look like if viewed as a social practice?

To pick one paradigm from among several on offer, what would trans- lation look like if viewed through a social systems lens, the type of lens that has been ground and polished by Niklas Luhmann in particular? Translators would not be part of such a system. They would be presupposed, as would be all sorts of material preconditions. In social systems theory, translators are not part of any social system because, like other human beings, they are composed of minds and bodies, and neither minds nor bodies are social.

Systems theory as Luhmann developed it1 conceives of minds as psychic systems and of bodies as biological systems. The body needs the outside world because it must take in air and food, but its functioning is an internal matter. In the same way the mind needs sense per- ceptions but then goes on to process thoughts and feelings in its own way.

This processing is again an internal matter, just as digestion is internal to the body. Another way of putting this is to say that both minds and bodies function autono- mously. Cells reproduce; thoughts feed on thoughts and trigger further thoughts. None of these processes are social. Minds cannot reach into other minds or trans- mit thoughts. I cannot read your mind and you cannot read mine. What we can do is communicate. If we think of what it is that makes the social social, we end up with what happens not within but between persons.

That is why Luhmann defines social systems as systems consisting of communications. Com- munication requires thoughtful minds, talking heads and functioning bodies, but its social nature comes to the fore when it happens in the sphere of the inter- 1. The most relevant titles are listed in the bibliography. The participating bodies and minds are not themselves social. What is social is the to and fro of communicative exchange, as one communication hooks into another and their linkage starts building a chain over time.

This concatenation is an ongoing concern in which the event character of in- dividual communications is crucial. Communication happens. It does not linger. Communications have to connect if the system is to get going and to keep going. Signals have to be picked up, made sense of and responded to. Communication, the key to it all, is conceived here as the coincidence of utter- ance, information and understanding. Information, the constative aspect, concerns what the utterance is about.

It refers to something outside the communicative act itself. Understanding Verstehen then means observing the unity of the difference between utterance and information: a receiver construes a speaker as saying something. It may be worth adding a few footnotes to this idea of communication. First, communication, in this model, begins with understanding.

That is, it begins with the receiver, not with the sender. Understanding means that the receiver grasps both utterance and information as selections, ascribing a communicative intention to the sender and assuming that the topic that is broached is of relevance in one way or another. It gets under way when a receiver responds to a communication and in turn finds a responsive receiver.

Secondly, the model is inferential. Making sense of a communication is a matter of drawing inferences from a signal. Com- munication is not transfer, the transmission of pre-existing content via a conduit such as language. Instead, we have the same stimulus and inference model that also underpins Relevance theory.

Applying this model to translation will mean sacrificing the metaphors of packaging and transportation dear to traditional con- ceptualizations of translation. Thirdly, inference leaves room for misunderstand- ing. Or better: misunderstanding is that apparent mismatch between intended and construed meaning that can only be established by making it the theme of further communicative exchanges, which themselves require inferential interpretation.

Before we return to translation, we need a few additional general points. Here, then, brutally simplified, are some essentials of systems theory, Luhmann on the back of an envelope, so to speak. Communications are fleeting events, therefore they must be connected. To do this, the system scans and latches on to communications selectively. In this way communication generates commu- nication. The system continually recycles and modifies its own elements. By doing this recursively and self-referentially over a period of time, and by selectively remembering and forgetting, a certain stabilization comes about in that networks and structures are built up that make certain communications more likely and therefore more predictable than others.

The structures of a social system are structures of expectation. As specific structures and expectations begin to cluster around certain kinds of communication, individual systems differentiate themselves from what is around them. Luhmann thinks of modern society as consisting of a large number of func- tionally differentiated social systems. Whereas in earlier periods of history the dominant forms of social organisation were segmentation as in clan systems and hierarchical stratification as in feudal societies , the form of society in the industrial and postindustrial world is characterized by systems which specialize, so to speak, in performing certain socially necessary func- tions, such as producing collectively binding decisions politics , the manage- ment of scarce resources the economy , or maintaining social order through the distinction between permissible legal and punishable illegal acts.

The various function systems of modern society that Luhmann has described in detail the economy, politics, law, education, religion, art, the sciences, the mass media, organisations, but also social and protest movements are perhaps best thought of as discourse networks. Each concentrates on certain kinds of communication and will process communications in its own way.


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There is however no superordinate system to keep the various function sys- tems in check. Society as a whole, as the conglomerate of these function sys- tems, manages without a centre, without a common direction and without an overarching purpose. Everything that happens in the sciences is meant ultimately to revolve around the pursuit of true rather than false statements about the world.

Because these criteria are not self-evident the programmes of the sciences result in the welter of competing approaches and schools of thought that inspire research and debate. Other systems have their own programmes clustering around and giving substance to their spe- cific codes. Luhmann thinks of the major function systems of the modern world — the economy, politics, law, science — as rather self-centred networks that read ev- erything that happens around them in their own terms. The commercial sector puts a price on art on the basis of criteria that are common currency in the business community but may well be at odds with those employed in the artworld.

Natural catastrophes trigger very different responses among environmentalists, the news media, medical staff and in- surance companies, for instance. Whatever systems take from their environment they convert into their own currency. For their operations systems draw on their own resources. Even though each system has its own currency, systems can irritate one an- other, and they all do so all the time.

Church leaders know their words reso- nate among politicians, and politicians realize they will do well to monitor developments in the churches. The monetary value of works of art affects the artworld. Irritation is merely another word for the stimulus and inference idea mentioned above. It implies that a system is not impervious to its envi- ronment, even though it will make its own sense of any stimulus that comes its way. In other words, it transforms irritation into information.

National news media may promote nation-building but they do so through their pri- mary function of garnering and disseminating news stories. This means the environment can intervene only indirectly into the system. It can produce resonance, but direct intervention would erase the difference between system and environment, and that would wipe the system out. Systems are interdependent. Communication needs functioning bodies and minds, just as bodies need communication and minds, and minds need com- munication and bodies.

Social systems, too, interact. The business sector knows that levels of taxation may go up or down following an election, and it plans for such an eventuality, even to the extent of seeking to influence politi- cians. Schools may start teaching creationism alongside or even instead of evolution theory due to evangelical lobbies.

The term means that a system develops structures that also suit the demands of other systems, so that various systems can coexist while retaining their own identity and their specific difference. A system operates by means of distinctions to obtain and process informa- tion, and in this sense a social system is an observing system. When a system observes itself by means of its own constitutive difference — that is, when it re-enters the basic distinction that renders it distinct — it can generate self-de- scriptions.

When such self-descriptions focus on the system as a whole, they become reflection theories. If the sciences operate with a distinction between true and false, epis- temological theories within the sciences re-enter that distinction to reflect on the nature of science. To the extent that this becomes a matter of observing, within the sciences, how the sciences observe the world, we have observation of observation, or second-order observation.

Translation as a social system Can we describe translation along these lines? Let me stress that I am not inter- ested in claiming that translation is a social system. That would mean making an ontological, essentialist claim, and the constructivist nature of systems theory militates against such claims. Systems exist in systems theory. Whether they have an objective existence outside it is a question systems theory cannot resolve.

The translation system exists to the extent that a plausible case for this proposition can be made in system-theoretic terms. In other words, we can view translation through a system-theoretic prism with the aim of gaining a fresh perspective, a way of focussing attention. In that sense I want to consider translation as a social system and see what emerges.

What emerges is a system that comprises communications perceived as or concerned with translation, in other words translations and discourses about translation.

But communications, as we saw, are events. That means the transla- tion system does not consist so much of translations as objects such as written texts or spoken words but of the innumerable communicative acts that count as translations or contribute to its self-observation. Perhaps the fluidity of interpret- ing rather than the fixity of translated print offers the prototype of translation. In oth- er words, representation organizes the system and renders it distinct.

You know you are dealing with a communication that belongs to the translation system if it is an instance of or bears on representation as proxy and resemblance, especially if it appears as interlingual re-enactment. Put differently: translation is second-order discourse, discourse that represents another discourse. The translation system emerges as communications of the same type begin to cluster. When this chatter gains volume and momentum and the system differen- tiates itself, programmes — prescriptions, proscriptions, preferences and permis- sion, that is, the whole complex of norms and expectations governing particular modes of representation — flesh it out, provide backbone and structure, and un- fold it over time.

For example, the translation system may become aware that, as a rule, translations have to slot into existing text types and it will develop appropriate representational modes to ensure its products will fit. The current debates about localization are a case in point: the specific requirements of globalized websites stimulate the translation system into generating adequate forms of representa- tion. The Anne Frank example, too, was about producing the most appropriate kind of representation for a certain type of text.

But whether it is dealing with localization or with Anne Frank, the system has to decide for itself, with reference to its own resources and procedures, what kind of communication to bring about. If it did not do this, it would not be self-referential, it would not be autopoietic and it would therefore not be a system. The basic tension in the system is that between autopoiesis and structural coupling, between autonomy and heteronomy, self-reference and external refer- ence.

As the self-reference of translation I regard that aspect of a translated text that refers, more or less self-consciously, to the particular mode of representation it has selected for itself. I will return to this below. It helps a translated text to live out its life as a translated degree certificate or historical novel, an interpreted speech, a localized website. We are dealing with structural coupling in that the translation system copies into itself the differentiation it perceives in its environment so as to be able to mesh with a range of particular client systems — the medical world, the legal profession, finance, literature, journalism, and so on.

Internal differentiation means that the translation system gains in complexity, enabling it to cope with a complex world. Resonance cannot be dic- tated. Hence there remains the possibility of friction, mismatch and conflict. The translation system may throw up peculiarities which a client system perceives as noise, as outrageous or obnoxious. These may concern issues of what constitutes a valid representation or a well-formed text but they may equally be ethical mat- ters and normative ideas regarding what translation can be and what translators should do.

All of them arise from debates within the translation system. In the same way, of course, a client system may irritate the translation system by voicing particular demands about what kinds of texts it wants to see. If this is the basic scaffolding for a systems approach to translation, we can go on to investigate several aspects, from translation history to translator training. The form of translation To explain what I mean by the form of translation we may go back for a moment to the idea of translation as a specific kind of communication.

Relevance theory names this specificity the interpretive as against the descriptive use of language. As metatextual communications, translations invoke the distinction between utterance and information. It is what a translation is about, its external reference, its resemblance to another text. The utterance points up a double frame: it announces reported speech, and then it performs that reporting. The preface frames the translation in the way quotation marks frame a quotation or a main clause an embedded clause.

The frame also sets the scene and provides clues on how to read the simulation that follows. Assuming there is no glaring conflict between announcement and simulation, the actual rendition is then merely the dramatization of the particu- lar translative option, the performance of the particular mode of representation announced in the preface.

As a result, the performance is altered: we no longer see an underlying text being performed, we see the performance of a text being performed in a particular key. The actor who announces he is going to act Hamlet, acts Hamlet like an actor demonstrating a particular way of acting Hamlet. The approach accords with the view of translation as quoting, since quotation can readily be thought of as an instance of demonstration Mossop , ; Clark and Gerrig The demonstra- tion consists of the re-enactment of a pre-existing text and, because it is framed as a demonstration, of the display of a particular re-enacting style.

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In other words, translations can be read not only with reference to the originals they represent, and not only for what they say about whatever they and their originals speak about outside themselves. They can also be read for what they say about their in- dividual way of re-enacting an original — and also, more generally, about the kind of re-enactment that is called translation. In this perspective, each individual rendition exhibits a particular mode of representation profiled against the ever-present possibility of alternative modes and other performances.

As, over time, translations intertextually endorse or be- rate one another along the lines we discussed with reference to the Anne Frank example above, the form of translation is condensed and confirmed into a series of patterns for further use. It is condensed in that a particular mode of representa- tion can be applied again at a later moment and it will still be recognized as being the same mode. It is confirmed in that the same mode can be applied in different circumstances and thus extend its range while still remaining the same mode.

The form of translation is then what emerges as the historical set of com- municative practices that become recognizable as translation because particular modes of representation are selected again and again. The programmes are not uniform. Because in the modern world translation caters for an array of differentiated function systems, it is also itself differentiated.

Nevertheless the system as a whole remains distinct. It allows itself to be irritated by different systems in its environment, but its resonance comes from within and is determined by its form. The idea of form I am using here has an inside and an outside. It was Mi- chelangelo, I think, who explained that the statue he wanted to carve was already there waiting within the block of marble in front of him; all he had to do was liberate it by chipping away the redundant stone.

Form is two-sided. The inside is what is there; the outside is what had to be cut away for the inside to be revealed. Form is arrived at by selection, that is, by excluding what is not included and then concentrating on what is included as the inside of the form. What is the point of trying to think the form of translation along these lines? Just as speaking cuts into silence, what is translated is always profiled against what is left untranslated. But silence can also communicate: it may communicate an in- ability or an unwillingness to translate.

Moreover, just as, in speaking, the words a speaker selects push back other words, those that could have been spoken but were not, a translation offers its particular choice of words by obscuring other choic- es, as we saw before. In doing so, it activates one mode of representation at the expense of alternative modes. The temporal sequence in which these differential choices are made constructs a past as well as a future.

The future is the horizon of possibilities that is conditioned by the present but that may still mine the past in unexpected ways. The past may be thought of as the storeroom in which selections and inclusions are archived, selectively, as part of a process of forgetting as well as remembering. We deselect outmoded ways of translating and let them sink into oblivion so as to retain only a conveniently foreshortened canon of successful past selections as a template for day to day use. But nothing prevents us from occasion- ally stirring up the sediment and reinstating former rejects, bringing them back from the margins.

The past is that selection of forms that the present holds available for future use. The series that becomes visible in this way is the evolving social system of translation. Second-order observation If selection has a performative and therefore a self-referential dimension, how self-reflexive can the system be? It is a claim I do not want to tackle head-on, but I will nibble at its edges. I would argue that because self-reference shadows the perfor- mance of translation, the translator, as translating subject, is actually written into the enactment.

Grasping translation as utterance means being alive to the fact that a particular and no other mode of representation is being selected. Perhaps the real problem lies deeper. We may be able to appreciate it better when we reflect that, while translating translators can write their own subject- positions as selectors into their performance as it proceeds, they cannot, in their own performance, survey or assess the conditions of possibility of their perfor- mance.

It takes another viewpoint to see that conditioning. The situation I am describing has a parallel in hermeneutics. The idea is similar to what Paul de Man diagnosed as the blindness that both preconditions and enables insight and that only another observer can see. The latter adopts a cognitive frame of reference that is different from that of the former.

Symbolic observation can see what the operational observer cannot see Iser — Symbolic observation therefore constructs a different rationale for the actions observed by operational observation. Most causal expla- nations, for example, are of this kind. Observation is understood here in a broad sense, as the use of distinctions to gain information. Second-order observation observes not so much what others observe but how they observe. It is typically what critics and research- ers do when they read cultural artefacts, social practices or individual behaviour as symptomatic of something larger and hidden.

Middeleeuwse, Moderne en Hedendaagse Geschiedenis. Combien nous sommes loin en France de cette splendide floraison intellectuelle! For the historian trying to approach the history of sociology in Belgium from a transnational perspective, it is tempting to consider a document like this as exemplifying the role of informal international networks in the early twentieth-century institutionalization of sociology. It is even more tempting to read in it a reassuring confirmation of the international fame of the Brussels Institute of Sociology.

The same document, however, moves us to carefully analyse the specific contexts of contacts and references. In this particular case, the strategic and hence probably somewhat hyperbolic character of the laudatory references to Brussels is quite obvious. It remains nonetheless striking to what extent they are embedded in a nationalistic. The quoted document is therefore a witness to the rich heuristic value of transnational references. Fueling a controversy, claiming a countercurrent view or building a canon of pioneers are all measures that can capitalize on foreign legitimization.


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  7. It is worth noting that General Jourdy, a military general preoccupied with training the state engineering corps and bolstering the commercial renown of the nation, was not part of social science academic circles himself. His interest from outside the discipline corresponds with another issue that we will address: the position of international scientific projects that were often on the margins of dominant university institutions at the turn of the century.

    It therefore remains difficult to assess the precise role of international contacts and to assess the impact of the development of professionalized forms of international scientific sociability on the evolution of local scientific cultures and concrete research practices.

    These are questions that have hardly been brought up so far in the few publications that explore the transnational history of the early human sciences in the broad sense of sciences humaines, covering the humanities and the behavioural and social sciences. Within the field of statistics, international conferences were held throughout the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the first being organized in Brussels in by Adolphe Quetelet.

    Even if they did not fully succeed in their goal to establish uniformity in the themes and methods of national statistics, they nevertheless played an important role in the establishment of the transnational authority of statistics as a guiding instrument of national policies 6.

    The development of sociology was of a later date, but its international infrastructure was created almost simultaneously with the first national and local sociological institutions. A few months before founding the institute, Worms had launched the explicitly internationalist Revue internationale de Sociologie 7. In the s, numerous well-established university disciplines had progressively widened their geographical breadth from national to international.

    The forms structuring their institutional organization — publications, societies, conferences — were diffused into new territories, and network relationships. International conferences became the privileged vectors of internationalization as a mode of scientific communication and circulation of knowledge on an extended scale. In sociology, which was not an established university discipline, it worked the other way round, internationalization preceding academic recognition.

    From this point of view, sociology was emblematic of international aspirations at the turn of the century concerning the integration of knowledge, as much as the construction of scientific communities. Pre sociology was doubly taken with internationalism: in its scientific practices as well as in its theorization of the new scientific relations that it initiated 8. This did not imply, however, that an international outlook was a sufficient condition for academic success.

    Science was in many ways — both institutionally and symbolically — organized along national lines. Even though the scope of these initiatives was quite different, they certainly represent important moments in the early development of Brussels sociology. In what follows, these and subsequent Brussels initiatives will be presented from the perspective of their involvement in sociology as a transnational field.

    Internationalist experiments. Sociology in a Transnatio nal Perspective: Brussels, second, more policy-oriented type of initiative. Its main inspiration was to be found in the internationalist movement in favor of free trade reforms, but the conferences equally dealt with questions of the extension and enhancement of education and art and literature The first efforts to define sociology as a specific intellectual project, distinct from other social sciences and hence deserving academic recognition, were yet another endeavour.

    They can be traced back to the early writings of socialist intellectuals such as Hector Denis and Guillaume De Greef. Having launched their intellectual work in the French-Belgian socialist press, from the s onwards they both started to develop and reflect upon a sociological approach to social and economic phenomena, inspired by Comtean positivism and Proudhonianism. They all developed their intellectual activities in a context of transnational collaboration or at least intense international contacts.

    They shared a profound belief that their studies could contribute to a better future for humanity, which they considered to be a universal category. The object of their research and reflections, however, was often defined by or confined to a national framework — either in terms of the data they gathered or used in their empirical studies or in terms of their policy-oriented advice or criticism.

    The field of the early social sciences was, from the onset, interconnected with nation-building and national policy. This tendency was also apparent from the ease with which academic and national political careers were combined, both domains being considered closely related. As early sociology was theoretical in character, it would incite a departure from this national perspective.

    This internationalizing tendency would become apparent in the work of, for instance, De Greef. From the s on, he developed a theoretical approach toward sociology that combined Comtean positivism, evolutionary theory and Proudhonian internationalism, enabling him to predict in the advent of the era of globality With its interfaculty program in political and social sciences, set up in , the University of Brussels was the first in Belgium to offer a social science curriculum.

    The programme translated liberal views on the need to develop moderate answers to the social and political problems of industrialized and democratic societies. A course on sociology was deliberately barred, as the new discipline was associated with socialism and with an exaggerated. In reality, however, the legitimacy of sociology as an autonomous and theorydriven approach to social phenomena was acknowledged. Both Denis, who in had been hired to teach political economy and philosophy, and De Greef were assigned a course in the curriculum The new society for social and political studies also hosted a bibliographical project, the Catalogue sur fiches des ouvrages de sociologie La Fontaine and Otlet were part of, and brought together, numerous Brussels networks.

    For Otlet and La Fontaine, the project of establishing a bibliography in the field of the social sciences was equally a project of rationalizing social connections. The organization of scientific production was considered to complement international social organization. Unsurprisingly, the modest compilation objectives of the Office international de Bibliographie were quickly broadened Bibliography came to be considered as a distinct science, even though its take-off stalled due to a lack of common language and agreed-upon units. The Office soon generated a Bibliographica sociologica, with , entries in This sparked the cooperation of a broad range of international correspondents from European.

    Created as the pooling of scientific workforces, it was set up as a testing lab of ideal international scientific communication In retrospect, the project testifies more forcefully to universalist bibliographical ambitions and corresponding epistemologies than to a specific wish to establish sociology as a transnational field. For La Fontaine, however, this second ambition seems to have been real as well, as he would later on advocate the creation of international schools of social science as the best recipe to create knowledge-based international understanding As in many other scientific fields, Belgian students of the social sciences were oriented first towards France and Germany De Greef published his.

    Even though Worms had not involved any Belgian scholars in his very international group of members and collaborators when he first launched the Institute and its journal, Denis, De Greef, Vandervelde, Otlet, La Fontaine, Van der Rest and others would soon be involved as associated members, and — in the case of the first three — as members of the board De Greef would join the editorial committee of the Revue internationale de Sociologie in , two years after Denis.

    However, before the Brussels sociological network could really take off, the Brussels university went through a crisis. Both domains held a major position in the different curricula. Internationalism was embedded in the lectures as well as in their audience. Even if one takes into account the fact that not all announced courses took actually place, one is struck by the breadth of the course offerings in sociology, with methodological as well as thematically specified courses such as criminal sociology, by Enrico Ferri and Scipio Sighele , and by the international character of the faculty To De Greef, the presence of foreign professors was a constitutive aspect.

    For some of them, such as the French anarchist and collaborator of. For others, such as the renowned French historian Charles Seignobos, an intimate friend of Vandervelde, the annual trip to Brussels was probably a way to maintain loyal friendships and intellectual contacts with active supporters of the university This implied other similarities as well.

    This did not imply common theories or methodologies, however. Sociology in a Transnatio nal Perspective: Brussels, Mauss, openly looked down on Worms, who was judged to lack intellectual consistency or content altogether



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