The Time of Anthropology

This essay concerns experience of time in anthropology. It triangulates between theoretical
discussions of time, embodiments of temporal experience in a handful of classic and
contemporary anthropological works, and the temporal texture of ethnographic fieldwork,
reading, and writing. Thinking with philosophers such as Nietzsche, Bergson,
and Deleuze, as well as with my disciplinary and field interlocutors and the circumstances
of our encounter, I argue that time may be taken as inventive for anthropology
insofar as it is untimely, contemporary, present, and virtual in its quality. These four
dimensions of time are described as generative insofar as they suffuse anthropological
experience with the feeling of being out of joint with the here and now. I argue that
the pursuit of newness in contemporary anthropology depends less on the objects of our
investigation and more on the temporal and affective relations we nurture with them.
Through the use of experimental form, and an alternation between argumentative and
expressive language, I seek both to outline and to evoke the importance of time in our
encounters with the experiential texture of other worlds. [contemporary, experience,
temporality, subjectivity, fieldwork, experimental writing, cinema]

Author Name: 
Pandian, Anand
Journal: 
Cultural Anthropology
Citation: 
Anand Pandian, The Time of Anthropology, Cultural Anthropology, 27: 4 (2012), pp. 547-471.