Helge Jordheim / Forum: Multiple Temporalities
History and Theory 53.4 (Dec 2014).
This special issue of History & Theory focusing on the theme of multiple temporalities serves as the introduction to the synchronizing theoretical model. Introduced by Helge Jordheim, the special issue features articles by Jordheim, Shahzad Bashir, Stefan Helgesson, Geoffrey C. Bowker, and Lucian Hölscher. Jordheim's essay, which introduces the forum on Multiple Temporalities, discusses how the existence of a plurality or a multiplicity of times has been conceptualized in the historiographical tradition, partly by entering into a dialogue with recent writers, historians, philosophers, sociologists, anthropologists, and literary scholars, partly by returning to the eighteenth century, to the origin of “the modern regime of historicity” (Hartog). In these theoretical and historical investigations Jordheim explores and discusses different ways of conceptualizing multiple times, in terms of nonsynchronicities, layers of time, or natural and historical times on the one hand; and on the other hand, traces how these multiple times have been compared, unified, and adapted by means of elaborate conceptual and material practices that he calls “practices of synchronization.” Jordheim argues that from the eighteenth century onward, these synchronizing practices, inspired by, but by no means reducible to, chronology have given rise to homogeneous, linear, and teleological time, often identified as modern time per se, or simply referred to as “progress.” In focusing on the practices of synchronization, however, Jordheim shows how this regime of temporality during its entire existence, but especially at the moment of its emergence in the eighteenth century and at the present moment of its possible collapse, has been challenged by other times, other temporalities, slower, faster, with other rhythms, other successions of events, other narratives, and so on. More