Tradition. Proceedings of an International Research Workshop at IFK, June 1994

With the rapid disappearance of what have been called traditional societies, with the problems and paradoxes of modernization,  and indeed with the cultural strains and crises within our own modern life, the issue of traditions and traditionality is still, or once more, very much in the foreground of theoretical interest.

Thus it was a welcome occasion when the International Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften, Vienna, indicated willingness to finance and organize an international and interdisciplinary workshop on »Traditions«. The workshop took place on June 10-12, 1994, at the IFK. Asked to take charge of the scientific organization, Professor Gotthard Wunberg (Tübingen) and myself had a free hand to design the outlines of the workshop and to invite participants of our choice, participants we were keen on collaborating with. As to the ideas underlying the meeting, it had been obvious that among those participating there was a general consensus to the effect that the preserving of social continuity requires specific cultural mechanisms. If these mechanisms are referred to as, broadly speaking, traditions, then we may say, and this is in fact what a number of the papers suggested, that no society, not even a modern one, could lack traditions. A different approach however might wish to draw systematic distinctions among those various relevant cultural mechanisms. Perhaps not all of them should be designated as traditions. Or perhaps one should speak of various levels and kinds of traditions, work out a typology, a fine-grained terminology, and applying that terminology, only subsequently formulate general theses. With the possibility of this latter approach in mind, we thought of examining the issue of traditions along three different, albeit related dimensions: First, the transformation of oral traditions into written texts, and the ensuing modification in the ways collective memory works; a theme, we thought, relatively tangible. Secondly, the role of customs in law - a role paramount in pre-literal cultures, and presumably changing, but not disappearing, with the rise of modern societies; an aspect, we thought, remarkably perseverant. And thirdly, the contemporary cultural status, the various modern forms and functions, the modern and indeed postmodern consciousness of traditions; a domain, we thought, disquietingly fuzzy. 

ISBN: 3-801505-01-6
Verlag: IFK