Journal Journal for the History of Knowledge, vol. 4 (2023)

Journal for the History of Knowledge, 4 (2023)

Special Issue: Entangled Temporalities, edited by Hansun Hsiung, Laetitia Lenel, Anna-Maria Meister

Hansun Hsiung, Laetitia Lenel, Anna-Maria Meister (eds)

  • Pages: 288 p.
  • Size:178 x 254 mm
  • Illustrations:27 col.
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2023

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-60459-6
  • Paperback
  • Available


Shifts in timing and temporal perspective have world-making potential. They bring new kinds of objects before the beholder and new kinds of beholders before the object. They may recast solids as rhythms, transmuting the static eternity of the pyramids into an anarchy of vibrating atoms. They may do away with “matter” altogether — “a purely temporal explosion.” In the end, our epistemic objects, and we as inquiring subjects, are but a temporary synchronization of “superimposed times.”

Our special issue, “Knowledge: A Matter of Time,” argues that such rhythmic cacophony and superimposed layers of time, to borrow Bachelard’s vocabulary, can indeed be found at the heart of all attempts to know the world across periods and geographies. Instances of investigation, creation, and sense-making, we suggest, present polyphonic—and at times cacophonic—assemblages of interwoven and competing tempos, rhythms and time-scales. Our method is thus to keen our eyes to temporal unevenness and plurality not in the abstract, but as deposited in the materials, methods, and institutions of a variety of practitioners at work, allowing us to discern the connections and parallels between seemingly disparate disciplines and fields of knowledge. In our articles, nineteenth-century classical philology and twentieth-century animal behavior research find themselves sharing similar strategies for the management of long-term research, coordinating between quotidian schedules, bureaucratic funding deadlines, obsolescing evidence, and generational passings. Meanwhile, architects, physicists, physicians, and librarians all grappled with the temporality of storage and containment, erecting structures that might outlast the lifetime of lethal radioactivity, accommodate for the ever-expanding accumulation of print, or adequately preserve pathological specimens for posterity. Across disciplines, and behind apparently “stable” patterns of action and investigation, our contributions reveal a set of negotiations between uneven temporalities. These negotiations implicate not only the identity of the observer and observed, but also environment, instrumentation, and everything in between. Our goal, in short, is to demonstrate that knowledge—its subjects, objects and methods—comes into being only through the fraught and ever fragilely provisional coordination of plural times.


Special Issue: Entangled Temporalities

Hansun Hsiung, Laetitia Lenel, Anna-Maria Meister, Introduction: Entangled Temporalities

Rebecca Woods, Telling Time with Mammoths. Frozen Flesh and Temporal Arrangement in the Circumpolar North Since 1800

Dror Weil, Time and Temporalities in Early Modern Chinese Islam

Christian Flow, Encountering Huberia. Positioning an Eighteenth-Century Professor in Time

Erika Milam, Periodical Cicadas and the Abundance of Time

Hansun Hsiung, Complete, Accessible, Now. What Is Living and What Is Dead in the Research Library

Eric Gurevitch, When Is Medicine? Contesting the Temporality of Healing in Pre-colonial South Asia

Anna-Maria Meister, Chernobyl's Palimpsestic Shelters: A Concrete Tale of Forms of Delay

Laetitia Lenel, Survivor Testimonies and the Problem of Time

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Patents of Persuasion. Tempo-metrics and the Shaping of Knowledge About Knowledge

Projit Bihari Mukharji, No Time for Empathy. Entangled Temporalities of Pediatric Medical Experimentation in Early Postcolonial India

Shane Butler, Afterword: Know Time?

Research Articles

Jefferson Pooley, The Plasticity of Social Knowledge: Paul F. Lazarsfeld and U.S. Communication Research, 1937–1952