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date: 15 February 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This contribution reviews historical modes of governance from ancient, medieval, and early modern times to discuss the mutual benefit of the governance concept for political and historical sciences. Focused on the transitional periods of the European Middle Ages and colonial history, the inclusion of culturally heterogeneous populations into one and the same political entity by the spread of basic values is singled out as common topic between the disciplines. Indiscriminate classifications of modern governance phenomena as ‘new medievalism’ are thus criticized by pointing to the fact that self-governance, the spread of common binding rules or rituals of self-commitment, has been the rule throughout human social evolution. Historical examples are given to show that areas of limited statehood are not ungoverned, but rather spaces of contested governance provided by a variety of actors ranging from official state agents and churchmen to local communities.

Keywords: self-governance, medieval history, colonial history, Latin America, church, state

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