Timely Histories

Early modern temporalities: Time and culture in theory and practice

Samuel Wright (Postdoctoral Researcher)

The early modern unit within Timely Histories: A Social History of Time in South Asia investigates temporal cultures and temporal practices in early modern South Asia between 1600 and 1800 CE.

The unit explores a number of themes. These include the manner in which time-measuring devices are embedded within temporal practices that express temporal regimes of the period; overlaps between courtly and temporal culture such as how time is regulated by the court; and the relationship between daily life and temporality embedded in practices such as marriage and work. These themes are explored and studied through sources in regional and colonial archives such as correspondences, contracts, philosophical writing, and literature.

In recovering a history of early modern temporalities, the unit also aims to generate new forms of historical interpretation that extend across and overcome boundaries of historical periodization. In coming to terms with different notions of time and temporality, then, this unit endeavors to contribute to a critical history of time that reveals new conceptual tools for critiquing the present.