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Timescapes Workshop 2015 Call for papers (Closed)

"Timing Day and Night: Timescapes in Premodern Japan" Workshop 2015 Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Cambridge Rooms 8&9, April 15-17 2015 Call for Papers


Thank you to all who submitted papers - the workshop timetable and paper abstracts may be viewed here:


What were the ‘timescapes’ through which people lived their lives in premodern Japan? The ‘Timing Day and Night’ workshop at the University of Cambridge aims to explore the understanding and use of time in Japan, and how these timescapes encompassed all aspects of social life. We welcome presentations relating to how day- and night-time was perceived and ordered in Japan between the Heian period and the beginning of the Meiji period.

New values of time were introduced into Meiji Japan (1868-1912), following the adoption of the Gregorian calendar and Western 24-hour system. This workshop seeks to go beyond – or rather before – and consider how time was used and what it meant over the broader span of pre-Meiji history. Research into how daily life is timed can shed light on values including work ethics, lifestyles, and belief systems, providing clear insight for an understanding of the daily lives, identities and power relations of different social groups.

Issues that may be of interest include:  Which time indicators did people use? Did these differ across time, social classes or genders? What did it mean to be on time, why (and for whom) did people wait, or let someone wait? How did they make appointments and how did they integrate diverse, and perhaps contradictory, time indicators into organising their social activities? Did people manipulate time and if so, how? Was time ‘valuable’? Do we find different notions of time across different genres and types of sources? How did different social groups or institutions, from merchants to farmers, from schools to the pleasure quarters, structure their days and nights? How did the court and Buddhist temples influence timescapes, both within and without the palace and temple walls? How did their understanding of time prepare the Japanese for fast industrialisation, centralisation, and modernisation in the nineteenth century?


This workshop aims to launch a research project on the anthropological history of time measurement and awareness in premodern Japan at the University of Cambridge and to set up an international network of researchers in the field.

Using an ethnographic approach based on premodern Japanese sources, we focus on Time as a set of practices, analysing what sense people made of zodiacs, temple bells, animal behaviour or plant cycles to co-ordinate social activities. The aim is to identify the parameters of time measurement in premodern Japan, to challenge current European-based social theories of Time, and to understand better Japan’s own transition to modernity as the rapidly industrialising Japanese nation successfully adopted Western time structures after 1873.

RESEARCH TEAM MEMBERS at the University of Cambridge include Dr Brigitte Steger (PI), Dr Rebekah Clements, Dr Philip Garrett and Dr Angelika Koch.

The workshop will be open to the public, with registration and access to the whole conference available for £50. Funding has been generously provided by the GB Sasakawa Foundation to provide limited assistance to speakers, particularly early-career scholars, to cover travel and accommodation costs.