Questions of Tradition

Front Cover
Mark Phillips, Gordon J. Schochet
University of Toronto Press, 2004 - History - 325 pages

Tradition is a central concern for a wide range of academic disciplines interested in problems of transmitting culture across generations. Yet, the concept itself has received remarkably little analysis. A substantial literature has grown up around the notion of 'invented tradition, ' but no clear concept of tradition is to be found in these writings; since the very notion of 'invented tradition' presupposes a prior concept of tradition and is empty without one, this debunking usage has done as much to obscure the idea as to clarify it. In the absence of a shared concept, the various disciplines have created their own vocabularies to address the subject. Useful as they are, these specialized vocabularies (of which the best known include hybridity, canonicity, diaspora, paradigm, and contact zones) separate the disciplines and therefore necessarily create only a collection of parochial and disjointed approaches.

Until now, there has been no concerted attempt to put the various disciplines in conversation with one another around the problem of tradition. Combining discussions of the idea of tradition by major scholars from a variety of disciplines with synoptic, synthesizing essays, Questions of Tradition will initiate a renewal of interest in this vital subject.

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About the author (2004)

Mark Salber Phillips is a professor in the Department of History at Carleton University. Gordon Schochet is a professor in the Department of Political Science at Rutgers University.

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