THE TIME OF ANTHROPOLOGY: Notes from a Field of Contemporary Experience



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.