Inclusion and Exclusion. Facets of a phenomenon in history and literature

Research Unit Historical Cultural Sciences, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz, Germany
21.06.2018 - 23.06.2018
Judith Mengler, Forschungsschwerpunkt Historische Kulturwissenschaften, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Inclusion and exclusion are phenomena of human societies which overlap time, space and different media. This fundamental assumption lead to the founding of a Research Group at the Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz in 2017. Researchers from various disciplines discussed their ideas about the phenomenon focussing on practices and narratives of inclusion or exclusion in history and literature. Soon three common insights emerged – despite different disciplines, approaches, and experience in the topic of research.

According to the first assumption, inclusion and exclusion should not be understood as a binary concept, but as interacting techniques of approach, which are reciprocally contingent and also gradual. Secondly, the mere validation of sociological theoretical models is not intended. The projects will employ theories and methods from the cultural sciences. In addition, finally yet importantly, an event should be organised in order to invite external researchers experienced in treating the problem of inclusion and exclusion to discuss the previous findings of the group and get new perspectives.

BERT CARLSTROM (London) addressed the problem of the inclusion of baptized Christians descending from Jews in Castile in the 15th century. On the one hand, there were debates about a further exclusion of the New Christians by blood purity statutes or investigations by the Inquisition, on the other hand attempts were made to incorporate them into the church and the Jews into Christian eschatology. A prominent example for the latter was Archbishop Hernando de Talavera (died 1507), who was a strong voice for the inclusion and incorporation of the New Christians, on condition that ties to their non-Christian past were severed.

LAURA TARKKA-ROBINSON (Sussex) presented a paper on the role of translators of non-fictional literature during the Enlightenment. She focused on the work of the physician Johann Georg Zimmerman (1728-1795), a key figure in the history of national thought, who was translated into English. Zimmerman himself especially considered the first English version of his essay Vom Nationalstolze as rather problematic. The translator displayed Zimmermann’s merits through ethno typical claims, which nowadays could provide the research with new insights into the transnational dynamics of the Enlightenment.

STEFANIE AFFELDT (Heidelberg) pointed out the construction of race and white supremacy by practices of consumption of colonial goods. While the broader access to former luxury goods was a means of inclusion of different social classes into the ‘We’ in contradistinction to the ‘racial Others’ in Britain in the 19th century, the consumption of ‘white sugar’ was illustrated as a means of defence against the ‘yellow peril’. The ‘white sugar’ was produced by white labourers with salary entitlement and not by ‘black’ slave labour. Thus, the consummation of ‘white sugar’ became a kind of moral duty in terms of racist politics as well as an affirmation of the consumer’s own whiteness.

CHRISTIN HANSEN (Regensburg) introduced the methodology of researching historical stereotypes. Stereotypes are ubiquitous in history as well as in everyday life. Stereotypes generalize a certain group of humans, are over-simplistic and come along with value judgement. According to the historian Hans Henning Hahn, conflicts and stereotypes are mutually reinforcing. That is why research about the historical emerging and change of stereotypes enables us to get deeper into the structures of societies and their conflicts. Hansen showed the possibilities of having a closer look at historical stereotypes by using examples of the 19th century.

PETER D’SENA (Hertfordshire / London) provided his audience with an insight into the racist language in the famous comic strips Adventures of Tintin by the Belgian artist Hergé. The comic books, which are still very popular, testify the construction of stereotypes – positive as well as negative, concerning political systems as well as race or cultures. A most significant example for the latter is Tintin Au Congo, published in 1931. The African locals are depicted as childish and dependent on others – the well-meaning whites. In the comic strip Tintin in Tibet, published 1959, positive stereotypes are employed about the inherent wisdom, dedication, and spirituality of the Tibetan people.

TIMOTHY ATTANUCCI (Mainz) presented the practices of inclusion and exclusion by the means of money based on his considerations concerning the novel Fortunatus, published at Augsburg in the year 1509. Augsburg, hometown of the famous Fugger dynasty, was a prominent center of the early capitalism, which is reflected in Fortunatus. The protagonist, equipped with a magic money sack and a miracle hat, is able to travel wherever he wants to and always has plenty of money in the local currency on hand. Despite his ability to buy participation and inclusion wherever he goes, he faces situations of extreme exclusion due to impoverishment, because he is unable to use his gifts wisely, which is illustrated as a typical character trait of a melancholiac according to the humoral pathology.

JÖRG ROGGE (Mainz) introduced the work and ideas of the Research Group “InExclusion in History and Literature”, which name has recently been changed into “Cultures of Participation”. The common goal of the Research Group is not the validation of a sociological theoretical model in each of the projects, but rather a perspective of the cultural sciences – a close examination of processes, practices, and narratives of participation and debarment. To achieve this objective, the group operates with four keywords: cultural patterns, cultural facts, knowledge, and praxeology. Every keyword is linked to a specific definition and approach in order to enable an interdisciplinary collaboration. Rogge outlined the underlying concept; afterwards three of the included projects were introduced shortly in order to illustrate the modus operandi.

TABEA LIGEIA MEURER (Mainz) examined the honorific inscriptions on the Forum of Trajan. After the death of emperor Constantin, several turmoil and civil war-like conflicts shook the Roman Empire. Subsequently, the social and political consensus had to be negotiated anew and re-established. The epigraphic evidence on the Forum of Trajan is a tangible testimony of this creation of a façade of consensus. The Forum of Trajan was a symbolic place of political communication, where the remembrance of Trajan as the optimus princeps and the public memory of glorious past intertwined. The publicly performed affixing of an honorific inscription there reintegrated the formerly disgraced member of the senatorial elite into his social rank.

ULRICH BREUER (Mainz) presented the elements of inclusion and exclusion in the poem Lilis Park by Goethe. The poem originated in 1775 but was not published until 1789, the year of the French Revolution, which intensified its cultural political dynamics. In the poem, a young and very attractive girl, Lili, gathers her admirers in the shape of animals around her and they have to fight for her favour. The lyrical narrator is characterised as a wild and clumsy bear. While Lili symbolises the contemporary French rococo-style, the bear stands for the strong but rather coarse German, who runs into the danger of losing his freedom and dignity due to the interaction with Lili. He tries to escape by running into the woods, but is not able to dissolve – an interchange between inclusion and (attempted self-)exclusion with political implications.

ANDREY RYAZHEV’s (Togliatti) paper is based on his work at the Russian State Archive of Ancient Acts, where he studied the unpublished correspondence of Russian military and civilian authorities in connection with the Russian-Turkish War (1787-1791). In this correspondence, the relations between the Russian authorities and the nomadic peoples can be traced. The focus of the examination was the controversy over the religious and civic duties of Muslims and the repeated attempts to integrate the nomadic population into the frontier political system of Russia.

BRYAN ANTHONY C. PARAISO (Manila) vividly described the field of tension between inclusion and exclusion in the museum work on the Philippines. According to Paraiso, ethnographic and history museums in countries with colonial past have to face a challenge: They should impart knowledge to the visitor in a balanced way, without denying the indigenous as well as the foreign influences on their history. Which artefacts and narrations should be included is mostly the decision of curators or cultural experts, who therefore hold an enormous power over the representation of the cultural heritage. Because heritage can be manipulated to conform to an authorized discourse, the composition of exhibitions has to take place in a very careful and responsible way in order not to provide the visitor with a one-sided perspective on heritage and national identity.

MARTIN SCHNEIDER (Konstanz) spoke about Heinrich von Kempten, a poem written by Konrad von Würzburg in the second half of the 13th century. In this work, violence plays a central role. In the first part, the protagonist Heinrich was banned by the emperor, because of the use of violence at a banquet. In the second part, Heinrich was rehabilitated because he defended the emperor manly against his enemies. Thus, the rightfulness of the use of violence is dependent on the context and the status of the perpetrator in the hierarchical feudal power system.

DANIEL SCHRADER (Regensburg) examines the symbols and rituals of inclusion and exclusion employed by councillors of Samara’s Duma. In the turbulent period of the Russian Revolution and the Civil War, the attractiveness of the communicative space of the Duma changed considerably. Whereas the opening ritual in April 1917 nearly escalated into a violent clash, the situation after the re-elections in October was characterized by the efforts to fit in. The developed parliamentary rituals and insider languages were clearly used to include and exclude the correct persons.

EVY JOHANNE HÅLAND (Bergen) provided the audience with the results of her field research in Greek Macedonia. Annually, the Anasterides and Anastarisses in this region celebrate a festival called the Anastenaria. These groups descend from people of eastern Trace, who fled to Greek Macedonia after the Balkan Wars. The festival is dedicated to deceased saints, who are depicted on two particularly holy icons brought with them from Trace. The main ritual is an ecstatic dance over red-hot coals in a state of trance – a purifying ritual. This ritual is in opposition to the official Greek Orthodox religion and was therefore, performed secretly for many years. During the Anastenaria, various antagonists become apparent, between the ‘indigenous Greeks’ and the ‘Thracians’, the official and unofficial religion, educated and less educated inhabitants, just to name a few. Thus, practices of inclusion and exclusion are tangible at different levels and an essential part of the festival.

BENJAMIN SCHMID (München) described in his paper the relation between shame, self-exclusion, and political order in his paper. He traced the ideas about shame in political context throughout history and political thought. Political thinkers often claimed that shame has to do with the stabilization and preservation of political order. Schmid argued that shame is a basis for political order. The self-exclusion because of shame is fundamental for the distinction of the public and the private sphere and therefore for the emerging of a political sphere. In conclusion, shame has an inherent productive political potential, up to now understudied in the literature about political thought.

ALISON E. MARTIN (Reading) elaborated on the translators of scientific literature as gatekeepers of knowledge. The economic success of scientific authors, like Isaac Newton or Charles Darwin, depended highly on their ability to create works of mass public appeal by the means of vivid and lively language. The translators of these works had to manage the task to make the texts fitting into the understanding, and reading habits of a different readership and culture. Frequently, they manipulated lexis, register and even content to redesign the texts in order to meet the expectations of the new audience. A powerful tool of the translators were paratextual devices by which they could create a more inclusive (e. g. dissolute explanatory footnotes) or exclusive (e. g. references to sources in ancient Greek) overall construction.

Inclusion and exclusion – the one cannot exist without the other. To include somebody or something always means to exclude on the other side. The practices, patterns, and narrations of inclusion and exclusion are traceable throughout history from the Antiquity until nowadays and throughout different forms of media, may it be comic strips, epigraphs, or the performance of a religious festival. Rhetorics or practices of inclusion and exclusion are often used to preserve, produce, or restore an imagined ideal or order (e. g. purity, aristocracy) and very often conflicts can be spotted by the changes of the procedures of inclusion and exclusion.

The term ‘participation’ focuses more on the inclusive patterns and narrations. It was highlighted in the discussion, that participation requires a minimum of compliance to a common set of values or codes. The understanding of socially defined codes is a form of – implicit or explicit – knowledge. The access to specific knowledge is therefore a prerequisite for participation and the denying of the access to knowledge (e. g. scientific language, secret societies, and special codes of conduct) is exclusive.

It emerged from the discussion, that still more work has to be put into the sharpening of the terms and methods used so far, to make the collaboration of various disciplines more fruitful and the findings comparable. The toolbox is still incomplete. Overall, the conference was an incentive to broaden the view and get deeper into the topic.

Conference Overview:

Section 1: We and the Others – Affiliation, Membership, Discrimination

Bert Carlstrom (London): Inclusion through Hegemony. Hernando de Talavera’s (1438 ?–1507) Conditional Inclusion of New Christians

Laura Tarkka Robinson (Sussex): ’Interesting only to german feelings’? The Construction of Culture Specific Characteristics in the English Reception of J.G. Zimmermann

Stefanie Affeldt (Heidelberg): Whitening Sugar. Culinary Inclusion and Exclusion in Australia

Christin Hansen (Regensburg): Stereotype in der Geschichte und die Frage von Zugehörigkeiten

Section 2: “... and you are out!” – Semantics and Narratives of InExclusion

Peter D’Sena (Hertfordshire / London): ‘Race‘, Racism and Identity in Herge’s Adventures of Tintin

Jörg Rogge (Mainz): Cultures of Affiliation. Introduction of the Research Group “InExclusion in History and Literature”

Tabea Ligeia Meurer (Mainz): Belonging, at Last. Rehabilitations of later Roman Senators and their Monumentalization at the Roman Forum of Trajan as a Phenomenon of inclusion

Ulrich Breuer (Mainz): Bärenkräfte. Der ungeschickte Deutsche in Lili’s Park

Andrey Ryazhev (Togliatti): “Since you have become servants of Allah...”: Muslim Identity in Religious Polemics on the Southeastern Borders of the Russian Empire (late 80's – early 90's of the 18th century)

Bryan Anthony C. Paraiso (Manila, Philippines): Inclusion / Exclusion in the Authorized Heritage Narratives of Philippine History Museums

Section 3: Enclosure, Expulsion, Sorting – Practises and Processes of InExclusion

Martin Schneider (Konstanz): Exklusion und Legitimation. Stratifikatorische Macht in Konrads von Würzburg Heinrich von Kempten

Timothy Attanucci (Mainz): All Inclusive? Wealth and Melancholy in the Chapbook Fortunatus (1509)

Daniel Schrader (Regensburg): Costs of an Insiders’ Space. Inclusion and Exclusion Practices of Samara’s City Councillors during the Russian Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1918

Evy Johanne Håland (Bergen): Inclusion and Exclusion during the Religious Rituals of the Anastenarides in Greece

Benjamin Schmid (München): Selbstexklusion durch Scham. Über eine Grundlage politischer Ordnungsformen

Alison E. Martin (Reading): Common Knowledge: Science, Translation and the Politics of Inclusion

Tagungsbericht: Inclusion and Exclusion. Facets of a phenomenon in history and literature, 21.06.2018 – 23.06.2018 Mainz, in: H-Soz-Kult, 28.08.2018, <>.