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Session 14 – From panta rhei to societies against history: conceptualising time in archaeology.


Format: Standard

Organiser: Alicia Núñez-García, Guillermo Díaz de Liaño


Life cannot hope to exist outside time, and yet time remains an elusive concept. What is it? How does our situatedness influence our conception of time? And how much of our own understanding of time do we project onto what we call the past?

Time and history have been understood in different ways. The time of the Other was said to be cyclical if they were ‘primitive’; now nobody is (or ever was) primitive, and the time of modernity and history, unilinear and based on change and connection, is the right of every human society. Postmodern time, alongside everything else, is fluid, fragmentary and ambiguous. Symmetrical theory has talked of kairos, tenku and a percolating time, while others claim that time is nothing but a psychological strategy to observe a reality with only present; a present of past events and memories, a present of contemporary events and perceptions, and a present of future events and expectations (Young 1988). Regardless of how we conceptualise time, we should remember, following Harvey (1990: 432), that the emphasis on a certain conception of time and history is a political decision. How do we rethink a past that does not reify our own concept of time?

We call for papers reflecting on the conceptualisation of time through all methods, perspectives and approaches. We welcome papers exploring alternatives to linear time and drawing on a range of presentational methods, including story-telling, creative writing, performance or art. We encourage submissions from early career researchers, women and minorities.


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