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The temporality of illegality

Experiences of undocumented Latin American migrants in London

Ana Gutiérrez Garza

Through an ethnography of undocumented migrants from Latin America to London, I explore the temporality of illegality as a piecemeal process in which migrants find themselves embodying new ways of being in the world. I investigate the power of illegality beyond its legal connotations and through the analysis of the everyday experiences of migrants in London, I show how it affects the external structure of migrants’ worlds, as well as their subjectivities. I show how the illegal status is imagined, embodied, and sustained over an indefinite and uncertain length of time. Undocumented migrants in London are required to slowly adapt, to wait through anxious engagements with other people, and to deal with a legal system that controls their fractured presents and their uncertain futures.

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Boredom, Rhythm, and the Temporality of Ritual

Recurring Fieldwork in the Brazilian Candomblé

Inger Sjørslev

Setting out from fieldwork experiences in the ritual of the Brazilian Candomblé, this article aims to understand temporality in different ways. The significance of 'unfocused presence' in the field is discussed by way of the concept of 'deep hanging out'. The boredom experienced by the fieldworker is analyzed in relation to sentiments expressed by the people involved in ritual and the fieldworker's changing emotions over time, as previous experiences influence how time spent waiting is perceived. In ritual as well as in the interaction between fieldworker and the people in the field, temporality is deeply related to sociality and the aesthetics of social rhythm. It is concluded that the fieldworker is drawn into the time-geography of the field in a joint chore ography of social interaction.

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Temporality of Movements in the North

Pragmatic Use of Infrastructure and Reflexive Mobility of Evenki and Dolgan Hunters, Reindeer Herders, and Fishers

Vladimir N. Davydov

This article addresses the problem of temporality and its potential use in mobility studies by providing examples from the author’s recent fieldwork among Evenkis and Dolgans. It examines the temporal dimension of hunters’, reindeer herders’, and fishers’ movements, and discusses the pragmatic use by local people, in the context of their mobility, of a variety of infrastructures and objects that were introduced to the landscape during the last century. It introduces the concept of points of constant return for ways of relating to places of intensive use beyond the binary opposition of settlements and the surrounding landscape. This article suggests analyzing movements in a broader context that includes not just their starting and final destinations but the relations of different locations in a set of movements of multiple actors and analyzes them as results of both reflexive and creative processes that lead to transformations of material objects and the landscape.

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Daniel M. Knight

The consequences of prolonged fiscal austerity have left people in Trikala, central Greece, with feelings of intense temporal vertigo: confusion and anxiety about where and when they belong in overarching timelines of pasts and futures. Some people report feeling ‘thrown back in time’ to past eras of poverty and suffering, while others discuss their experiences of the current crisis situation as reliving multiple moments of the past assembled in the present. This article analyses how locals understand their complex experiences of time and temporality, and promotes the accommodation of messy narratives of time that can otherwise leave the researcher feeling sea-sick.

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Ksenia Gavrilova

In this article I will explore the correlation between the discourse of youths’ out-migration and their attitudes toward the infrastructure of Tilichiki, a small town in Kamchatka. I attempt to contest the perspective that out-migration (resulting in town depopulation) is caused by the perception of social infrastructure as insufficient. The analysis of local discourse shows that negative or positive descriptions of infrastructure, social services and life conditions in the town in general depend on whether the person has plans of leaving the town. This correlation is supported by temporal dimension of one’s life project: the duration of speakers’ residence in the town or the amount of time that they are planning to spend there.

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Steffen Dalsgaard

In sociological literature, the most commonly accepted meaning of 'the state' is based on a spatial definition that describes it as an entity exercising sovereignty within a bounded territory. However, the state is also made present in time, and state forms have a profound impact on the temporalities of social events and interaction, for instance, through rhythms and schedules. Consequently, this article discusses how the state in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, can be understood with reference to temporality as much as to spatiality and materiality. Here, the state is seen as being personified in its politicians, who are in control of its resources. In this understanding, the state is both facilitated and limited by the presence, attention, and duration of the politicians, who are obliged to recognize personal relationships through which kin or acquaintances can challenge bureaucratic control of space and of time.

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Freak Temporality

Female Adolescence in the Novels of Carson McCullers

Alison Sperling

In this article I will explore the repeated depiction of freak show performers and their relation to adolescent, tomboyish female protagonists in the novels of Carson McCullers. In a surprisingly recurrent trope across McCullers’s work, young girls believe that they will grow uncontrollably, as tall as the “nine foot tall” woman at the fair on the outskirts of town. Serving as a link between their rapidly developing bodies and their emergent sense of their own queerness, freakishness threatens to divert them from the normative futures of womanhood. I investigate this intersection of freak studies, a sub-discipline of disability studies, and queer theories of temporality, arguing for an extension of queer time through crip time, one which is necessitated by a consideration of freakishness in relation to youth and development. The figure of the freak across McCullers’s work calls for a reassessment of girlhood’s complex relationship to embodiment, place, sexuality, and temporality.

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Troublesome Temporalities

Europe between Nostalgia and Promise

Cris Shore

The three articles published in this Forum section were all finalists for the Graduate Student Prize of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe (SAE), which met at the American Anthropological Association’s 2013 meeting in Chicago. While they deal with different parts of Europe (Bulgaria and Romania and Spain, respectively), what unites them is a shared interest in issues of loss, social memory, identity, agency and death, and, in particular, the way people experience temporality and change (see Connerton 1989; Forty and Küchler 1991). The authors brilliantly capture the mood of uncertainty and anxiety facing Europeans in a period of unprecedented uncertainty, insecurity and austerity. What they also show is how Europe’s poor and marginalised are both shaped by and, in turn, try to shape or subvert the national and European policy regimes to which they are subjected.

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Differences in temporal reasoning

Temporal complexity and generational clashes in an East German city

Felix Ringel

Hoyerswerda, Germany's fastest-shrinking city, faces problems with the future that seem initially unrelated to the past and yet excite manifold conflicting accounts of it. The multiple and conflicting temporal references employed by Hoyerswerdians indicate that the temporal regime of postsocialism is accompanied, if not overcome, by the temporal framework of shrinkage. By reintroducing the analytical domain of the future, I show that local temporal knowledge practices are not historically predetermined by a homogenous postsocialist culture or by particular generational experiences. Rather, they exhibit what I call temporal complexity and temporal flexibility-creative uses of a variety of coexisting temporal references. My ethnographic material illustrates how such expressions of different forms of temporal reasoning structure social relations within and between different generations. Corresponding social groups are not simply divided by age, but are united through shared and heavily disputed negotiations of the post-Cold War era's contemporary crisis.

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Trans-temporal Hinges

Reflections on an Ethnographic Study of Chinese Infrastructural Projects in Mozambique and Mongolia

Morten Axel Pedersen and Morten Nielsen

Based on two case studies of Chinese infrastructural interventions in Mozambique and in Mongolia, this article introduces the notion of 'trans-temporal hinge' as a heuristic methodological concept that brings together phenomena and events otherwise distributed across time. The authors explore envelopes used when paying Mozambican workers at a construction site in Maputo and roads dividing Chinese oil workers and local nomads in southern and eastern Mongolia as concrete manifestations of trans-temporal hinges. In exploring the temporal properties of these phenomena, we define the trans-temporal hinge as a gathering point in which different temporalities are momentarily assembled. As an analytical scale derived from a specific ethnographic context, we argue that the trans-temporal hinge provides a novel and, quite literally, timely conceptual invention compared with other recent methods of anthropological knowledge production, such as multi-sited fieldwork.