Time. On the temporality of culture
43rd Congress of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Volkskunde (dgv)
Regensburg | September 20–23, 2021
Call for Papers
Culture and time are inseparably connected. Culture changes over time
and simultaneously struc-tures ideas of temporality. The storage and
transmission of knowledge over long periods of time organizes cultural
actions, identities and their transformations. It is these very
practices that make it possible for individuals to position themselves
in relation to the world, the past and the future, in relation to
cultural processes and social conventions. The temporality of culture is
a fundamental premise of empirical-ethnographic and historically
oriented cultural studies research.
From the point of view of empirical cultural studies, time is a
fundamental achievement in terms of cultural ordering and – unlike in
other disciplines – not a pre-existing physical quantity that pre-cedes
Temporality underpins the view of culture as a fundamentally historical
phenomenon. Temporal action and knowledge are always specific to space
and social conditions. The perception and mean-ing of time in everyday
culture is thus subject to constant change and socio-cultural,
political, spa-tial, economic or biographical differentiations.
Continuities but also conflicts between divergent time practices form
individual and collective identities in complex interactions with
spatial and social categories. Cultures of time give societies their
rhythm: policies of remembering and practic-es of the future, ideas of
age and life course events, the different tempi of current worlds of
work, the economy, consumption and leisure. Last but not least, temporal
cycles also have an economic dimension of value creation, both in
working hours and in leisure time.
Currently, various developments illustrate the great importance of
retrotopias and revisions of the past on the one hand and utopias,
visions of sustainability and future-oriented action on the other.
Climate change, reactionary political systems or the “heritage boom”:
Numerous global conflicts of the Anthropocene are unfolding along
opposing cultural evaluations of continuity and change, of tradition and
modernity, of euphoria about progress and fears of the future, of
cyclical and linear models of time, of transience and loss. The major
thrusts towards individualization of the 20th and 21st centuries and the
neoliberal transformation of social systems and working environments
have led to a pluralization of temporal orders, historical memory
cultures, practices of the future and established regimes of time.
The interest in temporality, the development and becoming of
contemporary everyday worlds is a central starting point for European
ethnological research. Thus, at the beginning of the 19th centu-ry, not
only did the first ethnographic epistemology emerge in the discussion of
the temporality of cultural phenomena – and here primarily continuities
and traditions – but also a broad public awareness of the growing
importance of regimes of time in the emerging industrial world. Not
least because of its subject-specific interest in traditions and
transformations, Empirical Cultural Studies / Cultural Anthropology /
European Ethnology, as a historically based discipline with a
contempo-rary orientation, has special theoretical and methodological
competence in the study of systems of temporal order which can, for
example, empirically reflect the theses of the fall of the time regime
of modernity (Assmann 2013).
Concepts and perceptions of time are simultaneously of long duration as
well as highly dynamic, partly universal and yet always localized. The
perspective “time” opens up views of phenomena of compression,
acceleration and deceleration as well as resonances and dissociations in
macro- and microsocial contexts. The penetration of individual and
collective life worlds through rhythmization and the attribution of
value forms a focus here. Time as a cultural achievement of order does
not merely remain an immaterial quantity, but it is also manifested in a
variety of ways in the materiality of culture. The development of
calendars and clocks, for example, also refers to knowledge of the
natural environment (climate periods, vegetation cycles, moon phases).
Through the establish-ment of techniques of measuring and comparing,
time regimes in their cultural significance are in-creasingly developing
power as the pace-setters of global worlds. Measuring and controlling
time are important cultural techniques in everyday life. Recent digital
regimes are currently de-chronologizing many of these traditional
patterns and are establishing new (a-)synchronicities, for example of
work and leisure, the local and the global.
Fashions and trends offer everyday rhythms and biographical orientation
by structuring cultures of entertainment and pleasure, of physicality,
but also of clothing and nutrition. The “spirit of the times” assigns
value and significance to cultural phenomena from historical-social
contexts and is itself constantly at the center of the question of a
“good” and “contemporary” life – for example when it comes to questions
of acceleration and the perceived temporal condensation of our every-day
lives, of leisure and idleness or the notion of “wasting time”. Thus,
there is a wide gap between the self-determined and the heteronomous
character of temporal regimes, which fundamentally forms historical and
contemporary identities, especially in areas such as work and leisure
cultures with their forms and formats of self-organization and
self-optimization, but also in everyday life such as in mealtime systems
Temporal action takes place in the present, but it is often directed –
for example in festivals and rituals – towards the past or the future
and thus implies planning and hoping as well as remember-ing and
forgetting. The political and religious recourse to history establishes
past events which reach into the present and fundamentally shape it and
assign value to it – not least through the materiality of culture, for
instance in retro, vintage or collection practices. The boom of Cultural
Heritage falls under these active contemporary practices just as much as
the protests of the “Fridays for Future” movement that are directed
towards a future worth living or practices of sustainability, for
example in the areas of food and agriculture. It is precisely the
awareness of the time that is in-herent to resources and the narratives
of transience and finiteness that form a basso ostinato of social
debates on the Anthropocene, which fundamentally questions global
cultures of production and consumption in the face of a fragile future.
As powerful categories of cultural order, time is thus at the center of
competing orders of knowledge and values and is thus itself an object of
cultural studies knowledge production. Espe-cially the seemingly
infinite possibilities of the digital storage of knowledge have led to a
paradigm shift in the visibility of the past in recent decades. Against
the background of these increasing syn-chronicities of historical
representations, utopias and dystopias, cultural-historical museums in
particular are facing enormous challenges in the midst of a growing
political and national-cultural appropriation of history. Temporality as
a structuring condition becomes apparent in the museums through
practices of collecting and curating, telling and remembering, but also
in the context of public history and citizen science, but beyond this,
it calls for an ongoing debate at the level of methodological
discussions as well as in terms of the research process.
Due to recent events
In times of crisis, unknown and unpredictable developments break up
established and familiar structures; everyday routines, security systems
and material conditions of existence lose their basis; political,
economic and sociocultural systems re-form. Temporal orders are also
undergoing massive shifts, as is evident in the current Covid-19 crisis:
Depending on the life context, time is limited or delimited, personal
and societal plans lose their binding force or take on special urgency,
relations between time and space need to be redefined, new
(in)simultaneities arise and existing ones are intensified. Social
relationships are partially detached from local points of reference and
are in-creasingly bound to knowledge about and the availability of
technical equipment. The consequences of restrictions on the one hand
and free spaces on the other are both a loss of trust and reliability as
well as increased hopes for a future with solidary processes of
communalization. Dystopian and uto-pian ideas overlap and illustrate the
contradictions and openness of the current challenges.
A cultural-scientific, theoretically informed examination of time and
the temporality of culture seems more urgent than ever, especially in
view of the global pandemic with its political, social and economic
Contributions and formats
Under the title “Time. On the temporality of culture”, the 43rd Congress
of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Volkskunde (dgv) would like to
stimulate a deeper examination of time as a fundamental cate-gory in the
formation and study of contemporary and historical cultures. We welcome
theoretical as well as empirical and practice-oriented contributions
that discuss the significance of time as a cul-tural category of order
and the epistemological framework of current and historical processes of
transformation in a manner that is focused on the present, the past or
in a comparative manner. The 2021 dgv congress offers interested parties
three different formats for participation:
Plenary contributions: Individual contributions of about 30 minutes in a
plenary session with subsequent discussion. The selection will be made
by the congress organizers from the submis-sions. In addition, direct
inquiries will be sent to individual experts.
Sections: Parallel two-hour sessions, usually consisting of three
thematically related individual presentations (each lasting about 20
minutes, followed by a discussion). The grouping of the talks will be
determined by the congress organizers.
Panels: Parallel two-hour sessions with an overarching theme. Panels
with a maximum of five the-matically related individual talks (including
introduction, comments, resumes, etc.) are proposed by a panel leader.
The joint abstract includes the title and brief abstract of all
individual panel con-tributions as well as the names and short CVs of
the panel participants.
Innovative and experimental formats: In addition to these classic forms
of presentation, there will also be space for individual formats which,
for example, facilitate new or unusual didactic meth-ods or interactive
Furthermore, the Regensburg Congress intends to continue the tradition
of workshops related to research practice and disciplinary policy that
was established at previous congresses. Topics may include questions of
research ethics, methodology, digitization practices, etc.
The student panel, which will offer various possibilities to discuss
current student research and projects, will also play an important role.
When submitting your abstract, please adhere to the following guidelines:
• In addition to a short summary, the abstracts must contain information
about the research question and the empirical basis respectively provide
information about the context in which the work originated, including
details of existing publications, the state of research already
conducted or initial results where applicable.
• Naturally, research presentations must be new and previously unpublished.
• We assume willingness to publish the contribution after the congress!
• Contributions can be presented and published in German or English.
• Please provide current contact details; for panel proposals, both of
the responsible organ-izers as well as all contributors!
• Abstracts must not exceed 2,500 characters (including spaces) for
individual presentations and 5,000 for panels.
• Submissions can only be made using the form provided on the dgv website:
• Please address any queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
• The closing date for entries is August 31, 2020.
In order to facilitate the selection process and make it transparent,
all applicants are strongly en-couraged to follow these guidelines. The
executive and the main committee will select the entries and determine
the program at their joint meeting with representatives of the local
host in autumn 2020. Notification of acceptance or rejection will be
given in December 2020.
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Volkskunde e.V. (dgv)
Claus-Marco Dieterich | Geschäftsführer
c/o Institut für Europäische Ethnologie / Kulturwissenschaft
Deutschhausstr. 3 | D-35037 Marburg
email@example.com | www.d-g-v.de
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