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By João Feres Júnior–Sandro Chignola

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A rule of thumb in academic life is never to wait for someone else to propose the organization of something you yourself would like to propose. If you come up with a good idea it is always better to write the proposal for it yourself, even at the cost of being obliged to organise everything. Nothing is easier to renounce than a new idea without institutional backing; failures need no explanations here. Why was this not the case with our history of concepts? What was the specific rhetorically appealing and persuasive moment in our proposal?

One of the grounds for the relative success achieved by the HPSCG lies in the launching of an initiative from below by individual scholars. A wellfinanced and carefully planned long-term research policy run by, for example, one of the various national academic establishments, UNESCO, the EU, or the European Science Foundation would surely not have been able to surpass our accomplishments. They would have inevitably spent too much time on planning and too much money on administration and on ensuring the 38 the politics of conceptual history participation of “celebrities,” and the content would have been just as boring as the official texts usually are.

In the volume Kontroverse Begriffe,9 German linguists aptly illustrate how in the Federal Republic, politicization through the thematization of new questions also altered the entire political constellation, because the old dividing lines could not be applied to these new questions. The feministic critique of existing linguistic practices serves as an example. 10 At the core of the rhetorical controversies lie various attempts to politicize concepts, in which no Spielraum of contestation and contingency had previously been acknowledged.

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