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Wed 12 April
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Wednesday 12 April 2023 11.00 - 13.00
B-2 CUL15 Social Approaches to Cultural History
Victoriagatan 13, A252
Network: Culture Chairs: -
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Heikki Kokko, Minna Harjula : Towards Social History of Experiences
Beliefs are constructed via shared experiences. Our approach to the history of experiences offers a new approach to social history, as it explains the construction and change of socio-cultural structures via the circulation of experiential knowledge.

Our paper outlines a theoretical and methodological approach for the analysis of shared experiences in ... (Show more)
Beliefs are constructed via shared experiences. Our approach to the history of experiences offers a new approach to social history, as it explains the construction and change of socio-cultural structures via the circulation of experiential knowledge.

Our paper outlines a theoretical and methodological approach for the analysis of shared experiences in historical research. Our starting point is that the process of experiencing ¬is about giving socially shared meanings to the world. Thus, there are no experiences outside the social, cultural, or mediated. Experiences do not just reflect the reality, but they are the constructive units of human reality.

We first theorize how socially mediated experiences shape the reality and construct the social structures. By developing the holistic social theory of Berger and Luckmann into the approach of history of experiences and combining it with Reinhart Koselleck’s theorizations on historical time and space, the framework aims to explain and analyze the historical change of experience and experiencing.

We develop methodological tools for approaching socio-culturally shared experiences. We conceptualize the temporal structures of experience as layers of experience by combining Berger and Luckmann’s sedimentation process and Koselleck’s theory of multi-layered temporalities of experience. The layers of experiences can be traced by exploring the sediments – shared meanings of experience – that are stored in different sign systems at a given historical context. We use the layer of experience to analyze shared experiences that have been institutionalized to social structures on a certain historical era. This opens a view on how the social reality consists of overlapping and interlinked layers of experiences.

As experience is always situational, we apply and develop the term scene of experiences to conceptualize the concrete socio-spatial setting for experiencing. The scene of experience combines the micro-level social processes of experience and the macro structures of society. It connects the socio-cultural frameworks, the mediating structures and the human subject to explore how the reality is constructed in a particular situation. (Show less)

Elisabeth Lobenwein : Information Transfer from Constantinople to Vienna before 1683: Actors – Strategies – Challenges
It is well known that the acquisition and transfer of reliable and current information was and still is an essential element of diplomatic and political agency. The authors of the innumerable handbooks on the “ideal ambassador” published during the late Middle Ages and the early modern period already agreed that ... (Show more)
It is well known that the acquisition and transfer of reliable and current information was and still is an essential element of diplomatic and political agency. The authors of the innumerable handbooks on the “ideal ambassador” published during the late Middle Ages and the early modern period already agreed that the gathering of information – both overtly and covertly – was the most critical function of diplomatic personnel alongside representation and negotiation. The establishment of the permanent embassy system beginning in the fifteenth century ensured a continuous flow of information, and the function of envoys as gatherers of information consequently gained in importance. However, how did diplomatic representatives obtain relevant information? What human and material resources did they have at their disposal when collecting information? These questions are investigated in this paper by analysing the diplomatic reports of the three imperial diplomats residing at the Sublime Porte during the 20 years between the Peace of Eisenburg/Vasvár (1664) and the Second Turkish Siege of Vienna (1683): Giovanni Battista Casanova (1665–1673), Johann Georg Kindsperg (1672–1678), and Georg Christoph Kunitz (1680–1683).
First, the various methods to acquire relevant information will be analysed. Second, the information networks of the diplomatic representatives, especially their actors, structure and dynamics are reconstructed using network analysis. Third, the challenges that the diplomatic representatives faced when fulfilling their duties will be addressed, e. g. how did they deal with the fact that they were often unable to verify the truthfulness of information they received?
The sources show that imperial envoys were dependent on the cooperation of a multitude of actors such as dragomans (interpreting and translating to and from “Oriental languages” such as Arabic, Turkish, and Persian), officials and dignitaries of the Ottoman administration, diplomatic representatives of other European states, merchants, and locals to fulfil their reporting duties. The essence of my argument is quite straightforward: It is important to examine the multiplicity of actors involved in generating and circulating information along with the nature of the respective communication media, as these factors shaped information transfer from Constantinople to Vienna and therefore not only influenced decision-making processes but shaped entire discourses about the Ottomans in Europe.
(Show less)

Kristof Loockx : Sewers of Debauchery and Depravity? A Comparative Socioeconomic Analysis of Boston’s and Antwerp’s Sailortown, 1850-1930
During the nineteenth century, urban districts near port took shape in the context of increasing migration levels, rapid urban expansion, and growing transport connections. As a result of all these changes, social commentators commonly depicted these so-called sailortowns as dangerous neighborhoods, where seafarers and marginal residents were clustered in an ... (Show more)
During the nineteenth century, urban districts near port took shape in the context of increasing migration levels, rapid urban expansion, and growing transport connections. As a result of all these changes, social commentators commonly depicted these so-called sailortowns as dangerous neighborhoods, where seafarers and marginal residents were clustered in an environment full of pleasure, nuisance, and violence. However, there is a growing consensus among scholars that the current picture is just one piece of the puzzle. This research note aims to place the dangerous characterization of sailortowns alongside various forms of interaction, cooperation, and connectedness between transient residents and the local community. What were the socio-economic profiles of both transient and permanent residents and how did the social networks of these men and women look like? Did clustering take place on the basis of labor relations, kinship, and/or geographical background? What were the effects of port and urban expansion on community formation when the relationship between port and city gradually disappeared from the turn of the twentieth century? This paper will tackle these questions by comparing the socioeconomic characteristics of Boston’s Ann Street (present-day North Street) and Antwerp’s Oudemansstraat, both main commercial streets in the heart of sailortown with an infamous reputation during the period under consideration. In doing so, a social and cultural perspective will contribute to a better understanding of how sailortown operated and what was unfolding not only on the streets but also behind the facades. (Show less)

Alice Reininger : The Franzenskanal. The Construction of the Tisa-Danube Canal should improve Economy in the Central Danube Basin in the End of the 18th Century. Wolfgang von Kempelen’s Steam Engine was used for Drawing Water
When the Kiss Brothers, Joseph Kiss (1748-1813) and and his younger brother Gabriel Kiss (1751-?) began work on the construction of a canal connecting the River Danube and the River Tisa in 1793, Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804) was consulted not only on account of his technical knowledge, but also because ... (Show more)
When the Kiss Brothers, Joseph Kiss (1748-1813) and and his younger brother Gabriel Kiss (1751-?) began work on the construction of a canal connecting the River Danube and the River Tisa in 1793, Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734-1804) was consulted not only on account of his technical knowledge, but also because his steam engine could be employed there to draw water. Wolfgang von Kempelen was appointed technical director of the newly founded company for this project.
Three years before, in 1790, Wolfgang von Kempelen again made contact with England. He already owned a patent for the construction of steam engines for the countries of the Austrian monarchy and another patent of his reaction machine for which he received a patent in London in 1783. He still had good connections to England. Letters exist from which we may gather that Kempelen was having individual components of a steam engine manufactured in England for this special purpose. It may be presumed that Kempelen was ordering parts from England in order to use them in constructing the steam engine to be employed in building the Kiss Brothers’ canal. The components, which included the steam cauldron and other special machine parts, were to be manufactured in accordance with Kempelen’s specifications in England and afterwards shipped from the port of Liverpool or Hull. Unfortunately, no documents or specifications on this matter have survived, other than these few lines.
The costs for constructing and digging the canal – more than 3000 workers were employed -- were estimated over 900.000 guilders by the Kiss Brothers. The engineers hoped to finish this canal within three years. Around five millions m3 earth had to be moved, several waterlocks and gates were constructed, five bridges were to span this waterway, and about 16 movable pontoon bridges should make it easier to cross the canal. A private stock company was formed for financing and many well to do citizens invested money in this project. But everything turned out differently and nearly ended up in a drama. In the end it took almost 10 years to complete the canal, accompanied by serious disputes, conflicts, unexpected difficulties, great controversies, confrontations between the constructors of the canal, the company and shareholders, anonymous letters of accusation and a declaration of bankrupty ... (Show less)



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