Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Time in Anthropology
Michael W. Hesson
The nature of time is a topic of commanding interest to scholars in many different academic disciplines. Anthropology has been concerned with time in two major ways. The first is how human beings create and express time, including the generic, universal, homogenous time of science that many people take for granted. The second concern is the issue of representations of temporality, particularly in the anthropologist's ethnography, and how such representations “freeze” cultures in an effectively timeless or eternal state. The legacy of modernism in the anthropological study of time is the challenge to the singular nature of time. By the late 1800s, a centuries-old opinion had begun to settle in as received wisdom; namely, that time was a uniform and universal yardstick of human existence and experience. Newtonian time was assumed to hold everywhere; Kantian time, while individually experienced, was a unitary phenomenon. Time tended to be conceived as a ...