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Jan Baars

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.

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Can Time Be Tricked?

A Theoretical Introduction

Felix Ringel

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.

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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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Jan Ifversen

Within the history of concepts, the conceptualization of time is central. Historical actors rely on their experiences for orientation in the present, and they produce expectations about the future. To imagine their horizons of expectation they need concepts about the future. When the future becomes difficult to conceive of for a variety of reasons, they take refuge in concepts describing unruly and uncertain times such as crisis or chaos. Times when the future is completely out of reach because the present seems unbearable might be termed catastrophic. Also, historians in general make use of temporal concepts to narrate their histories. They are like time bandits that manipulate time. Following last year’s conference organized by the History of Concepts Group on key concepts in times of crisis, this article takes issue with the discussion of concepts describing bad times within conceptual history.

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Tracey Reimann-Dawe

Between 1848 and 1914 a wave of German academic explorers traveled to Africa, enticed by the promise of geographical, anthropological and botanical discoveries. These Afrikareisende (African explorers) composed narrative accounts of their journeys, which at the time were the main channel for disseminating their experiences to the public. This article focuses on three works from the first three decades of German exploration of Africa prior to German unification in 1871. The common aim of scientific discovery unified Afrikareisende and their passage through foreign space. An inextricable feature of this scientific ideology is the connection to rational, linear time. This article demonstrates how the perception and relevance of time is employed to transfer knowledge of the Self and Other to a German readership. This knowledge reflects not only the explorers’ experience of their personal identity but also the tentative beginnings of a collective German identity as it is defined in colonial space.

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Semantics of Time and Historical Experience

Remarks on Koselleck's Historik

Luca Scuccimarra

Moving from Koselleck's most recent essays on Historik, the author explores the role played by historiography in the constitution of historicity as a peculiar experiential dimension of human existence. The essay focuses on the complex link between difference and repetition which, according to Koselleck's theory of experience, constitutes a “specific historical temporality” and its inner articulation. Actually, it is by exploring the “formal temporal structures” which constitute the horizon of historical intelligibility that Koselleck brings to light the decisive role that the point of view of historiography has for the constitution of man as the subject of historical knowledge and action. It is difficult to ignore the importance of this theory of historical temporalization in an age in which the End of History rhetoric tends to transform itself in a sort of media gospel.

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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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Tricking Time, Overthrowing a Regime

Reining in the Future in the Yemeni Youth Revolution

Ross Porter

Based on research at the heart of the 2011 revolution in Yemen, this article explores how a capacity to inhabit the future culminated in a collective act of temporal deception on the part of the revolutionaries. Contrary to the prevalent assumption that the future is something that is worked towards, aspired to, emerging or lying in wait at the end of a distant telos, revolutionary life in Yemen asserts that the future can itself be a way of being, but in the present. Upholding the future involved dramatic acts of selflessness whose value lay not just in where they would lead, but in the acts themselves. This fusion of means and ends, presents and futures, ultimately bred a capacity for endurance that defied the temporal expectations of the regime.

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Time-Tricking

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.

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Placing Time

The Diasporic Journey to Beulah

Brian Klug

This article sets out to retrieve a concept of diaspora – deeply rooted in Jewish tradition but somewhat eclipsed in the Jewish imagination today – in which dispersion is understood as exile and return is deferred to ‘the end of days’. The argument is developed via a conversation between David Grossman and Amos Oz in 2003, in which Grossman reflects on the question ‘Are we a people of place or of time?’ Pursuing this question leads to a passage in Isaiah in which the prophetic author refers to Zion as Beulah. Beulah is Zion under the aspect of hope, Zion as the prospect of redemption, the end of exile in the here and now.