Cfp: Inquiring Temporal Otherness

Inquiring Temporal Otherness: Timekeeping and Attitudes towards Time in the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire (16th-20th c.)

International Workshop: Rethymno – Institute for Mediterranean Studies-FORTH

( October 23-24, 2015)


The diffusion and imposition of Western European timekeeping devices, systems and practices throughout the globe was accompanied by attitudes and norms towards time characterized by calculative rationality. These long historical processes of cultural transfer and socio-cultural transformation were deployed in uneven and, at times, conflictual manner throughout the modern era. Being to a large extent by-product of these processes, the construction of temporal otherness of non-Western societies by European episteme has suffered sweeping and just critiques, mostly in anthropological literature. Nonetheless, as our world gets more and more globalized and attuned to the universal Clock and Calendar Time, cultural difference in the attitudes towards time, real or imagined, continues to inform public discourse and the perceptions and constructions of the Other and the Self. This observation supports the thesis that temporal “modernization” has been an uneven, inherently contradictory and probably perennially incomplete process which cannot be meaningfully understood unless the historical experience of non-Western societies be taken seriously into consideration.

The history of timekeeping systems and practices, as well as of the attitudes towards time in the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire has long been neglected or overshadowed by the dominant Eurocentric and Orientalist modernization paradigm. Nevertheless, the last years we are witnessing a novel, theoretically informed, interest in relevant questions, mostly by Ottomanist and to a lesser extent by Balkanist social historians and historians of architecture, a research activity which gradually sets the ground for a successful inscription of the regional historical record and experience to the broader global picture.   

The aim of our workshop is to enhance regional cooperation by bringing together scholars working on the history of time in the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire and explore the possibilities for further joint research ventures.

We therefore invite papers falling under the following broad topics:

          Attitudes towards time, work and leisure in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans and their transformation.

          Representations and construction of temporal otherness in the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire

          Timekeeping systems and practices in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans.

          Diffusion, users and uses of mechanical clocks and watches in the Balkans and the Ottoman Empire.

          Clock-towers and public timekeeping in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans.

          Processes of temporal “modernization”, “secularization” and “westernization”. 

The workshop will take place at the premises of IMS-FORTH in the old town of Rethymnon. As organizers we will provide accommodation and meals, and do our best to cover some airfares. But as the current economic crisis impedes our effort to obtain sponsorship for the workshop, it would be a great help if those participants who can pay for their airfares from other funds, do so.

Deadline for the submission of paper proposals is June 15th 2015. Please send by then the title and abstract of your paper and a short CV to the following email addresses:


Andreas Lyberatos, Assistant Professor, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences/ IMS-FORTH

Marinos Sariyannis, Principal Researcher, IMS-FORTH

Dimitrios Charitatos, Post-doctoral Fellow, IMS-FORTH


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