CfP: Social Life of Time

The social life of time: power, discrimination and transformation 
The 1st Temporal Belongings International Conference
Supported by the Wellcome Trust
5th - 7th June 2018, Edinburgh, Scotland

Since 2011 the Temporal Belongings network has brought together scholars from across the arts, humanities and social sciences to investigate the role that time plays in communities. Our first meeting in Manchester set our initial agenda and since then we have explored a range of issues including community futures, the role of power and agency, time in community development and methods for studying social time. We’ve expanded understandings of community to explore time in more-than-human worlds and have also rethought the material infrastructures communities use to keep time in our Temporal Design events. Throughout we have argued for deeper understandings of the ‘social life’ of time (Appadurai 1988, Law 2009, Law & Ruppert 2013) and asked questions not only about the rhythm, pace and directionality of time, but also how particular constructions of time challenge or enact particular forms of relationality. Who belongs in particular accounts of time, and who is excluded? What are the effects and affects of various social understandings of temporality?  What are the politics of time? How are power and legitimacy operationalised through temporal frameworks? What might it mean to transform dominant conceptions of time?

Research on the role of time in social life has rejected the notion of time as an inert container in favour of a more complex and contested field of interactive relations (e.g. Sharma 2017, Birth 2014, Huebener 2016). Here time arises from relationships between actors, both human and non-human. Indeed some theorists such as Bruno Latour go as far as to claim that “time is not in itself a primary phenomenon. Time passes or not depending on the alignment of other entities” (2005, 178). The Temporal Belongings network has sought to build on this framework by paying attention to how time is made through relations, but also, and most importantly, to the ways that relations themselves happen through the organisation, conceptualisation and experience of time.

We are now keen to gather up the work we have done so far and launch a larger, international platform for exploring these issues. Thus, in collaboration with the Waiting Times project, led by Lisa Baraitser and Laura Salisbury and funded by the Wellcome Trust, which is investigating the relationship between time and healthcare, we are pleased to announce this call for papers for our first international conference.
The aim of this conference is to share current research on the social nature of time and to collaboratively reflect on key issues, problems and methodological approaches. In keeping with previous Temporal Belongings events, we will include a mixture of presentation styles, and plenty of time for discussion. We are particularly interested in playing with the traditional time of the academic conference and will include collaborative, participant-driven sessions where themes emerging from the presentations can be synthesised and explored in greater depth. Proposals are sought for lightning talks (5 mins), traditional papers (15 mins), collective sessions such as roundtables and world cafe approaches (1.5 hours), or alternative presentation/participatory formats (1.5 hours). Proposals for single panels or streams of multiple panels focusing on a relevant theme or approach are also welcome.
Confirmed keynote speakers for the conference include:

Contributions might address topics such as:

  • Time, power and resistance
  • Time and care
  • Embodied social times
  • Representing time, including temporal narratives, stories, visualisations
  • Temporal affects
  • Methods for studying the social nature of time
  • Environments and materials of time
  • Organising time
  • Critical temporalities, counter-stories and alternatives
  • Time and agency
  • Cultural concepts and experiences of time

Abstracts should be submitted online here by the 17th of November 2017.

Details on abstract and bio length for individual papers, panels etc can be found by following the submission link.

We will aim to notify of decisions by February 2018. Please send any queries to
Michelle Bastian
Lisa Baraitser
Andrew Hom
Laura Salisbury
Conference Committee

Posted: 08-11-2017 | Updated: 14-10-2022