How do objects - their placements, textures, routes and traces - come to encapsulate the bonding of time and space? And, to what ends? What claims do they make and what novel directions do they indicate? What is the breadth of such objects' sensorial potency?
Time, even in its most abstract conceptualisations, is a spatialised phenomenon. Its telling requires a bodily turn - a relation - towards another thing/body/… Space is, likewise, temporalised, imbued with cycles, durations and stoppages, coloured by epochs and speed, punctuated by intervals and rhythms. Some such relations congeal into timespaces. 'Time', as Bakhtin has famously told us, 'thickens, takes on flesh' and 'space becomes charged and responsive to the movements of time, plot and history' (1981: 84). For Bakhtin, narratives are constructed within specific settings that intersect with temporalities, rendering certain spaces powerful materialisations of the past. Anthropologists have indicated the affective disclosure of chronotopes, for example through dreaming and historical consciousness in Greece (Stewart 2012) or the affective ruination in post-partition Cyprus (Navaro 2012). Buchczyk (2016) has shown how a Romanian village is situated between contrasting chronotopes of folkloric past and utopian future, whilst HadžiMuhamedović (2018) has described the rift between two dominant timespaces - a schizochronotopia - in the Bosnian Field of Gacko, where the past ('religiously plural and shared') and the present ('nationalist and ethnically cleansed') landscape have rendered each other unbidden. This panel explores the affective resonances, directionalities and political deployments of chronotopes in material contexts and asks: How do objects make bodily impressions in the form of chronotopic claims? Or, what kinds of historicity and transformation in social life can objects signal? How are experiences of time and space mediated through material culture? What chronotopes might be revealed in traces or artefactual collections, archives and museums?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Translocal chronotopes - material culture and the configuring of time and space in the Niger Delta
This paper looks at the ways in which people and things configure time and space within shifting political and economic contexts. It takes the heritage practices of people in the Niger Delta, Nigeria, and their long history of transatlantic relations as a case study.
How do people and things configure time and space within continuously shifting political and economic contexts? This paper seeks to answer this question by looking at a case study from the Niger Delta, Nigeria, where people have been engaging in transatlantic trade relations for centuries, first in the trade in enslaved people, later, in the nineteenth century, in palm oil and today in crude oil. Before and during colonisation, material culture played a key role in shaping these relations and forging the lifestyles of the coastal trading elites. Particularly gifts by European trading partners, such as personalised hats and staffs, testified to the international reach and long-term commercial ties of the African merchants. Such gifts, thus, materialised a particular translocal chronotope of Atlantic Africa's globalising commerce. Today, these gifts are considered highly valued heirlooms and are used in performative and ritual contexts to relate to the past, stake claims in the present and imagine possible futures. This paper looks at three different modes of connecting and reconfiguring time-spaces: the wearing and displaying of heirlooms and, thus, family history and wealth, during public festivities; the use of heirlooms in the context of traditional marriages, in which they foster a co-presence between the living and the dead; and the transformation of heirlooms into theatre props during historical re-enactments on stage. Even though the resulting chronotopes differ considerably from each other, they all speak back and shape the politicisation of heritage in the current political economy of oil.
From earth to paper: property claims and the materiality of loss in post-war Kosovo
In the context of post-war Kosovo, this paper looks at Kosovo Serbian claimants' narratives of loss, and at how loss shifts chronotopic material encapsulations from earth to paper through the judicialisation of property claims.
In the last months of the Kosovo war in 1999, between 70,000 and 200,000 Kosovo Serbs had to flee Kosovo, leaving most possessions behind. Seven years after the end of the war, in 2006, the United Nations put in place the Kosovo Property Agency (KPA) to adjudicate war-related property claims. More than 90 per cent of such claims were lodged by displaced Kosovo Serbs. Based on 14 months of ethnographic research in and around the KPA, this paper explores the concept of property as deployed in Kosovo Serbian claimants' narratives of loss. The paper identifies claimants' language of property as one of mourning that materialises loss in chronotopic objects. Property, through such 'melancholic' objects, stood in for the all-encompassing loss they suffered in 1999. Because the KPA process focused exclusively on (immoveable) property rights, however, articulating the lost home as property also became a way of sanctioning grief by voicing the recognised injury of war-related loss of property. This paper argues that claiming property through the KPA impinged on claimants' subjectivities as much as it transformed their relationship to their reputed property by way of documents. The substance of loss-as-property shifted from earth to paper: the agency's decisions came to embody and materialise property, itself generating new forms of social action and highlighting the importance of paper in articulating political and legal subjectivities through time and space.
Recreating the last garefowl: the chronotopic materialities of species extinction and recreation
This paper discusses the extinction and recreation of the garefowl as a case of chronotopic materialities. In juxtaposing stories of the last garefowl and the prospect of the recreation of the species, the paper asks how materialities bind actors across space and time.
The last garefowl, or great auk, died on the Icelandic island Eldey, in 1844. Three locals, employed by a private collector keen to secure an example of a bird on the path to extinction, ended the lives of the last two birds and destroyed their remaining egg by accident. A hundred and thirty years later, a public campaign in Iceland, raised enough money for the 'nation' to be able to buy a specimen of the garefowl, stuffed, at an auction in London, outbidding wealthy collectors in the process. Despite this public arousal, the specimen has, for much of its time in Iceland, been in storage. Recently a model of the stuffed garefowl has been the star attraction at natural history exhibition in Iceland. Meanwhile, entrepreneurial scientists, and their moneyed backers, plan the recreation of species from salvaged DNA. This paper describes the multiplicity of responses to the death, its material loss, the stuffing, the exhibition and possible recreation of the great auk. Through a period of almost two hundred years, the great auk existed as an absence, or present absence, enacting artistic, economic, political, cultural and scientific values. In the process the great auk has bound together a number of actors, in complex ways, across time and space, exhibiting the chronotopic possibilities of materials even in their absence, the loss.
Socio-natural chronotopes: rhythmicality, sensoriality and emotionality of allotment gardens
The paper dissects the temporality of allotment gardens and explores how their materiality becomes imbued with time through a continuous practice of gardening. To account for the complexity of the garden chronotope, the paper combines rhythm analysis with a Deleuzian concept of territorialisation.
Gardens in allotments represent socio-natural assemblages of objects and plants that emerged over time while being constantly in becoming. In this paper, based on a long term research in allotments in Prague, the Czech Republic, I want to dissect the temporality of the allotment garden and explore how its materiality becomes imbued with time and what it means for experiential / emotional properties of the garden. I show that gardening is a continuous bodily engagement of the gardeners with the materiality of the garden that is subordinated to natural rhythms and conforms to (as well as opposes) the gardeners' will. Drawing on observations, interviews and visual (ethnographic) data, I conceptualise gardening as a repetitive as well as creative material practice locked in and productive of various interconnected rhythms. I argue that through these practices the space of the garden becomes imbued with (a sense of) time. The garden is an outcome of a continuous rhythmical care, which moulds the material (and sensory) properties through engaging with and at the same time producing textures, odours, colours and their assemblages (both aesthetical and fertile).It is through such moulding that gardeners become deeply attached to their gardens. In them, they see (but also smell and taste) reflections of their long term engagement in creating a particular socio-natural assemblage. I want to suggest that to account for the complexity of the socio-natural chronotope of the garden it is productive to employ a Lefebvrian rhythm analysis combined with a Deleuzian concept of territorialisation.
Class, social mobility, and biography: materiality and temporality in a Kenyan city
This paper explores how certain objects, spaces and materialities can suddenly and unpredictably fold time, exposing ruptures in personal biographies and horizons of expectation, and the loss of social mobility. The ethnographic material is drawn from urban Kenya
This paper explores how certain objects, spaces and materialities can suddenly and unpredictably fold time, exposing ruptures in personal biographies and horizons of expectation, and the loss of social mobility. The ethnographic material is drawn from urban Kenya, where my informants´ encounters with a formerly colonial club, which after independence opened its doors to African middle class, evoked memories of growing up at a time when such spaces of leisure and pleasure indexed entry into modern, urban life along with a sense of expanding horizons. Today, the club´s entrance fee excludes all but the city´s elite, materializing the displacement of earlier generations of the socially mobile, through structural adjustment and economic crisis, from privileged spaces of recreation and leisure. Sitting in the garden, drinking tea and watching the sunset evoked memories of different times, and one´s place within them. I draw on these and other encounters in and movements across the city to reflect on how the texture, materiality and looping of time and space may reveal deeply affective experiences of social mobility, class and modernity.
The multiple temporalities of pilgrimage: space and time interaction in the movement of pilgrims
The paper explores the ways in which space and time interact in the movement of Greek Cypriot pilgrims to a shrine that constitutes 'matter out of time' (Hamman 2008) as well as place, looking at the different temporalities experienced by pilgrims and traced by sites.
This paper focuses on the returns 'home' of Greek Cypriots as they revisit a monastery located in territory lost to them after the still ongoing division of the island. I draw on data derived from in-depth interviews with pilgrims and participant observation of pilgrimage journeys in order to explore two main areas. First, the different temporalities experienced by pilgrims as they traverse different spaces and landscapes on their way to a shrine that constitutes 'matter out of time' (Hamman 2008) as well as place. Second, the various temporalities traced by sites in their various states of ruination or restoration- states which may invoke different temporal schemes, as well as afford heterogeneous experiences of time, history and affect. The paper therefore examines the ways in which space and time interact in the physical and mental movement of pilgrims to, from and at the site, looking at how different forms of historical consciousness and interpretations of the past, present and possible future are prompted by spatial, material and temporal dimensions of the landscape that is traversed and the shrine that is visited.
Holy Sepulchre: affect-inducing objects in the making of sacred borders
The study traces the use of Christian devotional objects in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre and focuses particularly on their capacity to authoritatively mark space and time in and around the tomb of Jesus (known as Edicule).
The study discusses Christian devotional objects and their varied employment in Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre (also known as Church of Anastasis), the place hosting the sites of Jesus crucifixion and burial. Within the Church, fragile legal agreements between different Churches, and the intersection of ethnicity and theology, create a complex reality of overlapping borders, strict time-schedules and a fragile coexistence among the resident communities. A variety of objects, such as candles, comprise a special category of devotional objects used in everyday worship in the Church, yet they are also employed to mark the use of space, indicating access to particular shrines at particular times for the custodians in the Anastasis. The study traces the use of these objects and focuses particularly on their capacity to authoritatively mark space and time in and around the tomb of Jesus (known as Edicule). Their authority emerges from their semiotic form (Keane 2007) as objects indexing both ritualistic affect for the custodian monks as well as being agentive signs which would stop other custodians from accessing the shrine at a particular time. By drawing on long term ethnographic work in the Church, the study argues that material aspects of coexistence in the Church of Anastasis, such as affect-inducing devotional objects and their use by the custodian groups, shed light on the making of sacred space and time as well as the shaping of territorial borders between the communities cohabiting the Church.
Chronotopic debris: saints, archives and the invention of absence
This paper is an anthropological postscript to the work of the ICTY. Drawing on long-term fieldwork in Bosnia, I trace in the Tribunal's archives the strange afterlives of two syncretic Bosnian saints, George and Elijah, their feasts and the religiously plural landscapes they encapsulated.
After a violent impact, debris may scatter into multiple directions. Scrambled shards of landscapes, relations, bodies, buildings and forms of time-reckoning travel towards recipients unaware of their prior meaning. What kinds of time and space does debris draw into itself? The religiously plural and syncretic feasts of George and Elijah, which traditionally framed the warm season and its agricultural labours, appeared after the 1990s war in Bosnia as part of a wider chronotopic theme. The alliance of landscapes with their past worked to ward off the unwanted present. This paper scavenges through the debris of the George-Elijah chronotope in the labyrinthine archives of the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Displaced and disarticulated, the two saints offer here a possibility of reading both along and against the grain of archival expectations. They unsettle the legal chronotopes (the bureaucratic velocity of the courtroom and the landscapes made legible through war). I analyse the chartings of ethno-religious distinctions and the discourse of 'historical enmities' between Bosnian communities, with particular attention to the iterations of these arguments in the reports of ICTY's expert witnesses. The sustained invention of the absence of shared tradition, although productive of debris, is, I argue, continually countered by the emplacement of remnants into rekindled wholes.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.