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Power and TimeTemporalities in Conflict and the Making of History$
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Dan Edelstein, Stefanos Geroulanos, and Natasha Wheatley

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226481623

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 15 October 2021

Rise and Fall of the Sattelzeit: The Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe and the Temporality of Totalitarianism and Genocide

Rise and Fall of the Sattelzeit: The Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe and the Temporality of Totalitarianism and Genocide

Chapter:
(p.103) 3 Rise and Fall of the Sattelzeit: The Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe and the Temporality of Totalitarianism and Genocide
Source:
Power and Time
Author(s):

Anson Rabinbach

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226706016.003.0004

In this essay, I propose investigating Reinhart Koselleck's work, and specifically the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, with an emphasis on what seems to me its most glaring absence: political concepts invented in or active in the twentieth century. I argue that this lacuna is not incidental but reveals a highly significant weakness in Koselleck’s understanding of modernity. By restricting the Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe to the Sattelzeit, conceptual history is incapacitated when it comes to the twentieth century. Concepts invented in the first half of the twentieth century, such as totalitarianism and genocide, are virtually the opposite of the concepts privileged by Koselleck, embodying a very different semantics of historical temporality. Instead of an open-ended horizon of expectation, they bring the catastrophic events of the twentieth century into the semantics of historical experience, emphasizing neither futurity nor acceleration but dystopia and deceleration. In the concluding section I attempt to demonstrate how totalitarianism and genocide incorporated this new structure of temporality. In other words, I show how the semantics of historical time were altered when the expectations of modernity were so tragically derailed.

Keywords:   Reinhart Koselleck, Sattelzeit, totalitarianism, genocide, Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe, semantic stockpiles, deceleration

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