Introduction to Section 2

This section of the book sets off with contestations on world history, beginning with Michael Geyer’s analysis of the unknown and precautious work of Marshall G.S. Hodgson who, since the 1940s had attempted to “recast, quite literally, the sense or ‘experience’ of space and time” and thus to create create a “post-Western,” and thus, truly “global timescale.”[1] This section illustrates how different actors at different times developed and contested their specific ways of conceiving space-time, the chronotope, or, put differently, how they formed and formulated their individual chronologics. It thus advocates, with Heather Ferguson and Özen N. Dolcerocca, an awareness of the internal logics of periodisations, following Sanjay Subrahmanyam in reflecting on periodisation as a problem of investigation not just about but in the past.[2]

These essays argue that conflicting logics of revelation and history, sacral and human, the anecdote and the global, born out of shifting sociospatial identities, in turn shape different types of chronotopes (i.e. specific narratives of time-space). Investigating these, including variant projects of meaning-making that construct or reinforce particular power formations through the manipulation of time, we can avoid both oppositional and exclusionary discourses of Other times and histories. Instead of simply assuming that Jack Goody’s “Theft of History” is a given, then, this section makes visible the often heated negotiations accompanying attempts to define time in relation.

The authors in this section consider emblematic moments and their historicized narration: zooming in and out on specific chronoscales—from planetary world to nation to minority (religious) group; and considering different chronoscapes (bringing to the fore multitemporalities and their technologies of power)—in Europe, the middle East and India; considering how they recount, each and individually, specific emblematic moments and their epochal force while sometimes grappling with given chronotypes and/or (Euro)chronologies. The individual chapters bring in a variety of sources, from school textbooks to literature, to journalistic, historical and religious writings, encyclopedias and universal histories.

[1] See the chapter by Michael Geyer in this volume.

[2] See his conclusion to this book.

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