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An intellectual history of post-concepts

What does it mean to live in an era of ‘posts’? At a time when ‘post-truth’ is on everyone’s lips, this volume seeks to uncover the logic of post-constructions – postmodernism, post-secularism, postfeminism, post-colonialism, post-capitalism, post-structuralism, post-humanism, post-tradition, post-Christian, post-Keynesian and post-ideology – across a wide array of contexts. It shows that ‘post’ does not simply mean ‘after.’ Although post-prefixes sometimes denote a particular periodization, especially in the case of mid-twentieth-century post-concepts, they more often convey critical dissociation from their root concept. In some cases, they even indicate a continuation of the root concept in an altered form. By surveying the range of meanings that post-prefixes convey, as well as how these meanings have changed over time and across multiple and shifting contexts, this volume sheds new light on how post-constructions work and on what purposes they serve. Moreover, by tracing them across the humanities and social sciences, the volume uncovers sometimes unexpected parallels and transfers between fields usually studied in isolation from each other.

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Lessons for future posts
Adriaan van Veldhuizen

Introduction This volume is not merely a collection of essays on post-concepts. It is an attempt to understand – from a comparative, historical point of view – what post-concepts are, where they came from and what they do. This attempt stems from the observation that during the last century post-concepts have become common throughout the social sciences and the humanities. As the last two chapters, especially, demonstrate, there are no signs of this tendency abating. Many more post-concepts certainly lie

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Post-concepts in historical perspective
Herman Paul

Post-concepts When the Oxford English Dictionary named ‘post-truth’ its Word of the Year 2016, this was broadly interpreted as evidence of a disturbing change in political mores. The sudden popularity of post-truth – within a single year, use of the term had increased by around 2,000 per cent – was understood as indicative of a new type of political discourse, embraced most unscrupulously by Donald Trump, in which ‘objective facts are less influential than appeals to emotion’. 1 At the same time

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Howard Brick

Like most other post-prefix terms, the idea of ‘post-capitalist society’ originally appeared in a range of different guises, from the social-democratic vision of Anthony Crosland (1951, 1956) to the decidedly non-socialist expectations of Peter Drucker (1994). Yet Crosland’s attempt to outline a programmatic theory for the UK’s post-war Labour Party set the keynote of this ideological trend, within which George Lichtheim’s ‘post-bourgeois’ and Daniel Bell’s ‘post-industrial’ ideas also more or less fit. That trend lost steam with the global economic turbulence of the 1970s and the ‘neoliberal’ ascendancy that followed, which asserted that ‘there is no alternative’ to capitalism. From about 2005, however, and especially after the 2007–08 crisis, a new ‘post-capitalist’ discourse has re-emerged. This version appears more radically left wing than that of post-World War II social democrats such as Crosland. If the first version suggested that mid-twentieth-century society was no longer distinctly capitalist because it was already morphing into something else (some kind of statist ‘social market’ regime), the latest version clearly identifies and assails contemporary capitalism, seeking to surpass it in a new and different socialized order yet to come. The two different meanings highlight the ambiguity of post-concepts, which can suggest either a successor phenomenon built on (or growing out of) something given and familiar, or a strikingly new phenomenon that breaks decisively from a prior order of things.

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Post-ideology and the politics of periodization
Adriaan van Veldhuizen

1965 referred to a phase, period, stage, age or era. Despite the variety in meanings of the concept, authors considered this post-concept something that should be easily understood by their audiences. This is not without reason because post-ideology was contextually understood, and its context is best explained by another phrase: ‘the end of ideology’. Although there was no undisputed definition of this phrase either, most contemporaries would describe it as the thesis that fanatic political doctrines, Marxism

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Historicist-inspired diagnoses of modernity, 1935
Herman Paul

schemes on which they relied in this defining and positioning were more similar to each other than one might expect in the light of their different political, religious and philosophical backgrounds. This finding is important for two reasons. First, it allows us to situate ‘post-Christian’ among other twentieth-century post-concepts. As I will return to in the conclusion, ‘post-Christian’ resembled ‘post-capitalist’ and ‘post-industrial’ more than ‘postliberal’ or ‘post-secular’. Whereas the latter group

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Postfeminist genealogies in millennial culture
Stéphanie Genz

distancing and proximity, embeddedness and disembeddedness in relation to its feminist roots as well as its interconnectedness and overlaps with other post- concepts. In so doing, I also seek to unlock postfeminism’s potential for transversing across (disciplinary, geographical, historical) boundaries and situate it within a broader conceptual network in order to deepen its meanings and investigate the range of ideas and themes that sustain it. Postfeminism is not a ‘new feminism’ in the sense that it represents something

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Yolande Jansen, Jasmijn Leeuwenkamp, and Leire Urricelqui

position ‘enacting a thorough critique of humanism and anthropocentrism’. 37 Transhumanism and posthumanism Like with most other post-concepts, it is difficult to delineate an unequivocal historical development of posthumanism, even though the term has a relatively precise origin, as we already noted. Thinking ‘beyond’ or ‘after’ humanism can be attributed to many authors, who do not necessarily identify themselves as posthumanist thinkers. Even within the philosophical context, the term ‘posthumanism

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