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Travelling Notions of Culture: Itineraries of Bildung and Civilisation in Early Nineteenth-Century Europe

​The project Travelling Notions of Culture, funded by the Academy of Finland 2012–2016, has studied the changing notions of culture by asking how spatial imagination contributed to defining the concepts of culture and civilisation in early nineteenth-century Europe and, conversely, what kind of spatial ramifications culture and civilisation entailed. Our hypothesis has been that culture, civilisation and Bildung, i.e. concepts originating in different traditions, draw various cultural maps over the European continent.
Theoretically the project drew from the idea of ‘superimposed maps’ presented by Gilles Deleuze. A map is not representative but productive. Cultural maps are always transparent and cumulative in the sense that earlier maps, their sites, and itineraries are subsumed under the more recent and visible ones. Our project searched for ruptures and breaks which indicate that cultural and territorial regions formed an assemblage and multiplicity of various active forces. In brief, there was a network of simultaneous itineraries, not a single guide for orientation. Following these thoughts, it is intriguing to ask what kind of superimposed maps of Europe were effective during the early nineteenth century.
In order to be able to shed light on this complex field, the members of the research team represented different geographical points of reference. The researchers have empirical expertise in the study of Great Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia and Finland. In addition to these nationally-oriented geographical perspectives, the project paid attention to other material extensions, including sea and land, mines and other "unearthly" resources, coastlines and inland. The second premise related to the elusiveness of these regional differences. The relations between margins and centres were continuously under negotiation as well as geographical orientations, like East and West, North and South. The enlarging capitalist economy accelerated the dynamics between centres and peripheries. Through these viewpoints, the project aimed at mapping forces that produced territories.

The main results of the project were published in a book Travelling Notions of Culture in Early Nineteenth-Century Europe, published by Routledge in 2016.

Research site: Department of Cultural History, University of Turku. Project leader: Prof. Hannu Salmi. Researchers: Asko Nivala, Heli Rantala, Juhana Saarelainen, Janne Tunturi, Jukka Sarjala. Funded by the Academy of Finland, 2012–2016.

Project Members and Their Abstracts


Publications by the Project Members