Time is a critical feature of all social relations. To be alive is to be social and to exist for a time. Apparatuses for keeping time are powerful tools—from water clocks of the Song Dynasty and elephant clocks of Al Jazari in the twelfth century to Einstein's clocks in the twentieth century and our present day atomic clocks. Tracking the rhythms and cycles of collective life is one of the most important aims in studies of environmental and sociopolitical change. Yet such endeavors are mostly undertaken with the unquestioned assumption that human systems of time reckoning and historical periodization can be applied as universal frames of reference for all kinds of phenomena. Temporal measures of years, months, weeks, days, minutes, seconds are applied, rendering insensible ways of life that do not follow or synchronize with the forward marching beat of Western modernity. How might we make time social? How might we make clocks otherwise in order to revolutionize time?
The seminar invites students to explore different kinds of time and design new kinds of clocks that might enable alternate subjectivities and collectivities to emerge. The course is organized around four ways of considering time: I. Social Time: concepts of relational and historical time; II. Modernity and the Great Acceleration: kinds of time and temporal discipline that emerge from and enable modern capitalism and global industry; III. Relentless Evolution and Species Times: durations, rhythms, and cycles through which species evolve, reproduce, and coordinate; IV. Decolonizing Time: radical perspectives on indigenous and queer temporalities.