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 tion of 'invented tradition,' but clear concept of tradition is to be found in these writings; since the very tion 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 kwn include hybridity, canicity, diaspora, paradigm, and contact zones) separate the disciplines and therefore necessarily create only a collection of parochial and disjointed approaches. Until w, there has been concerted attempt to put the various disciplines in conversation with one ather around the problem of tradition. Combining discussions of the idea of tradition by major scholars from a variety of disciplines with syptic, synthesizing essays, Questions of Tradition will initiate a renewal of interest in this vital subject.
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.