This article concentrates on the concepts of time that are implied in the study of ageing. As such, it does not directly address the complex issue of autonomy and ageing, but is an attempt to prepare the ground for a more fundamental approach to ageing than is usually the case. Instead of assuming that we know what age is, I intend to think a little more about the concepts of time that are presupposed in speaking about age and ageing. Usually these concepts are approached from a chronological time perspective, which is only one, albeit important, approach to time. Another perspective which is crucial for understanding human ageing is subjective, personally experienced time. These perspectives are not by definition in harmony with each other. Subjective perspectives on time and ageing can conflict with objectifying, chronological perspectives. Human ageing means living in dimensions of time where impersonal forces and regularities clash with personal meanings.
Joint Report Team
This paper combines two documents on employment flexibility and security prepared in the context of the research project ‘Social Quality and the Policy Domain of Employment,’ undertaken by the European Foundation on Social Quality. The first document relates to work time in Europe, its social distribution and its evolution – the crucial importance of work time for the approach of flexibility is not to be demonstrated, as it is one of the main factors, alongside other characteristics, such as skills and working conditions, that have been promoted under the general umbrella of ‘employment flexibility ’as a panacea for bringing the ‘Old Europe ’back in line with the successfully job-creating U.S. economy. At the same time, people at work themselves increasingly recognise work-time flexibility as a fundamental instrument of quality of life. To achieve such flexibility will require significant social investment, such as support from the Welfare State and a full regulation framework.
A General Introduction
Roxana Moroşanu and Felix Ringel
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 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.
Time and the Field
Steffen Dalsgaard and Morten Nielsen
Prompted by the postmodern turn in anthropology, ethnographic fieldwork has been subjected to considerable analytical scrutiny. Yet despite numerous conceptual facelifts, definitions and demarcations of 'the field' have remained fundamentally anchored in tropes of spatiality with the association between field and fieldworker characterized as being maintained by distances in space. By exploring and unfolding the temporal properties of the field, anthropology can favorably complement and extend the (spatially anchored) notion of multi-sited fieldwork with one of multi-temporal ethnography. This approach implies not only a particular attention to the methodology of studying local (social and ontological) imaginaries of time; it furthermore unpacks the (multi-)temporality of the relationship between fieldworker and the field. This special issue may thus be taken as a fresh invitation to a temporally oriented ethnography.
For a New Materialist Analytics of Time
How might we construct a reinvigorated materialist analytics of human time that pushes beyond Marxist approaches? Here, I suggest that anthropology contains rich resources with which to achieve this aim. In particular, it can help us understand the qualities of secular and capitalist ‘modern’ time. An emphasis on time-tricking is especially useful in revealing the technologies of imagination, the ethics and the inequalities of such a temporal orientation. This concept brings into view the materialist ethic, ludic and aesthetic practices, and misrecognitions characteristic of current forms of ‘modern’ time. In addition, ethnographies of time-tricking provide the foundations for a reworking of Marx’s model of free and disposable time by focusing on informalized, social reproductive, excessive and domestic labour. A re-centring of our theories on these significant activities within capitalism is long overdue.
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.
Landscapes of Infinite Horizons
The aim of this article is to explore the Danish seaside as a culturally framed arena of experience. In the first part of the article, I present the appearance of Denmark's seaside as a recreational location for the Danish middle class. Using Danish films that portray the middle class on holiday, the article illustrates the perceptual consequences of a specific appropriation of the landscape. The analysis of the relationship between landscape and people then introduces anthropological perspectives on time, consumption, and perception. Drawing on ethnographic interviews and comparative observations, I show how accessing and consuming the landscape as a recreational location come to constitute it as a finite arena of infinite time and space, as well as a distinct location that allows for equal social relations.
Boat Time and the Temporal Experience of London’s Liveaboard Boaters
Itinerant boat-dwellers (‘boaters’) on the waterways of London speak about their lives as occurring in a time zone that is separate from the sedentary world around them. ‘Boat time’, as boaters call it, is simultaneously slow and unpredictable. The slow aspect of boat time is said to provide a much-needed contrast to the fast and highly choreographed movements of the city surrounding the towpaths. It becomes part of the boaters’ rhetoric of difference from, and resistance to, the state and other sedentary elements surrounding them. This article suggests that temporal experiences are a constitutive part of identity, a strategic component of resistance to the sedentary order, and a thread that links the disparate aspects of boaters’ own lives aboard.
Glimpses of Alternatives—The Uma Lulik of East Timor
A ritual artifact found throughout East Timor in the Southeast Asian Archipelago is a sacred house, ritual house, or cult house, known locally as the uma lulik. This artifact illuminates certain of the different perspectives on the term 'belief' offered by a number of contributors to this issue. By identifying four categories of Timorese 'believer' and 'nonbeliever', the present article attempts to support recent findings in the field of material culture that suggest artifacts may not be passive recipients of values invested in them by their creators. Instead, they might be more usefully regarded as objects engaged in continuous, dialectic interconnections with the human beings whom they serve.