190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel, Room 123
190068 Saint Petersburg
123 Griboedov channel
On November 10, 2016, the guest of the regular international scientific seminar "The boundaries of history" was Sebastian Conrad with a presentation "Global time of transformation in the nineteenth century" based on the monograph "What is Global History?", published in Princeton University Press. S. Conrad is a professor at the Freie Universität in Berlin, the head of the master's program "Global history" (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany).The seminar was organized by the Center for Historical Research in partnership with Deutsches Historisches Institute Moscau.
The focus of the presentation was the analysis of transformation of the idea of time in the XIX century in a global perspective. Global transformation of time had influenced on the formation of a new temporary regime, which consists of four main concepts: "standardization", "global synchronization", "progressive time" and "the deep historical time." In this connection, the revolution could be understood as a multifaceted response to the global transformation of the XIX century.
S. Conrad began with features of measuring time in Japan in the XVII century, when the European high-tech devices – watches – were firstly brought to Japan. The question was how, in the context of the new time measurement regime, had transformed the local representation of the world of time? Modern measuring devices were changed in favor of the local features of timekeeping in Japan, thus a global time were connected to the local cosmology. During the second European time counting came the situation in Japan had changed dramatically: all places were full of the clock tower (a symbolic act of translation of European civilized consciousness), people everywhere wore clock – there had a transformation in the measurement and understanding of the time, along with the European idea of History was brought to Japan.
On the one hand, the modern perception of time liberated people from old time’s linguistic and cognitive superstitions and prejudices. On the other, it imposed specific (cultural imperialism) global view on the past and the future. One thing is undeniable – the place of dissemination of such temporary perception is Europe. However, the focus of research of S. Conrad was directed to the other side of the question: to consider the different sides of the modern "feeling" of time from different geographical perspectives. In this connection, the main aim of the presentation was to analyze the global transformation of the time outside the paradigm of cultural transfer, which is one of the arguments, is a belief that the context and social transformation of cultural transfers made these changes possible. In other words, according to Conrad, not the formation of, for example, a new calendar led to its spread and global use, but on the contrary, social context determined the emergence of a calendar in a certain period.
Then Sebastian Conrad addressed the intellectual frame of changes and understanding of time, which consists of four categorical terms: "standardization", "global time and synchronicity", "progress", and "deep time". These concepts do not directly relate to the time of transformation, since it can refer to completely different spheres, for example, the study of nation building, colonialism, geology and geography, but in this case, they form the understanding and perception of time changes in the global world. In this regard, the three most effective tools that had united the world and the perception of time: the telegraph, the Gregorian calendar, and the adoption of prime meridian in 1884.
Important in understanding the global transformation is the interconnections between clocks and progress. The widespread production of clock radically transformed social interaction and imagination of physical space. Presence of the time influenced the change in the sense of time discipline and punctuality. Standardization of calendars and time zones was a direct consequence of the synchronization of the world, and then began to change in the style and methods of measurement of time. The discovery of the History in the broadest sense, as well as the emergence of the concept of progress has led, on the one hand, to accelerate the synchronization, the other – the emergence of temporal differences related to local and global perception of time.
Thus, the author concluded that the majority of the population in the XIX century, continued to live in a variety of time regimes, due to the local application of high-tech devices. In addition, the revolution was not only a consequence of cultural transfer, but also a product of the transformation of the global political, social and cultural conditions. However, the revolution of time as a system was not only a new concept of time, but it also formed a new perception of history, language and cognitive categories, as well as synchronize different civilizations in the context of global challenges.
Speech by Sebastian Conrad was ended by a vivid discussion during which were discussed in more detail certain time models and its development, as well as the concepts of different authors such as Reinhart Koselleck, who proposed some definition of the idea of time.