This general introduction presents the term that is the theme of this Special Section: ‘time-tricking’. Whilst initially mapping a few problems and perspectives that arise from it, we focus particularly on the question of temporal agency. We claim that the concept of time-tricking allows a reconsideration of temporal agency, and then set out how the articles that make up this Special Section contribute to this reconsideration. We will see that two versions of temporal agency are particularly salient in this endeavour: first, as a response to crisis; second, as a form of maintenance work.
A General Introduction
Roxana Moroşanu and Felix Ringel
A Theoretical Introduction
This theoretical introduction develops a conceptual argument stemming from the concept of ‘time-tricking’. Whilst most theories of time in anthropology develop a coherent definition of the nature of time – for instance, as ‘cyclical’ or ‘linear’ – I draw attention to a seemingly common metaphysical distinction in our temporal ontologies, that between the past and the future. This distinction allows me to do two things: first, I present two different versions of time-tricking, one focusing on references to time and particularly to the past, the other conceptualizing effects on the future; and then, second, I present the future as the main object of temporal agency. By developing the notion of ‘future-tricking’, I point to a specific kind of temporal agency which is based on metaphysical commitments heavily embedded in the present in politics, interests and possibilities.
The Special Section that follows focuses on temporal agency and does so in a new way through the idea of ‘time-tricking’. This collection of articles, guest edited by Felix Ringel and Roxanne Moroşanu, draws ethnographic attention to ways in which people attempt to modify, manage, bend, speed up, slow down or otherwise structure or restructure the times they are living in. Examples are taken from the UK, Greece and Yemen. The ‘deadlines’ that journal production imposes readily become part of the ethnography, too. More generally, Laura Bear’s Afterword to this section suggests that a focus on time-tricking can help us to understand the technologies of imagination, the ethics and the inequalities of what is generally seen as secular and ‘capitalist’ modern time.
Temporal Modalities and Relational Practices of ‘Getting By’ in the Greek Economic Crisis
This article investigates the temporalities of ‘getting by’ amidst the ripple effects of economic deterioration in Volos, Greece. Through the case of Kalypso and her family, I argue for a relational framework in the study of temporal practices, and then discuss the significant material relations of the family. Faced with less than half of their previous income, Kalypso runs a general budget pool via e-banking that allows her to coordinate the temporal constraints of periodic and everyday bills. The effect is a drifting apart of temporal experiences in the family as well as tensions about the future. Temporal agency is shown to reside in the modalities of social relations and in corresponding practices.