Situating time: New technologies at work, a perspective from Alfred Gell’s oeuvre

Jens Kjaerulff


A scholarship on “time” has emerged that pays attention to the ways contemporary economic life and information technology affect temporal perception and practice. A critique of this scholarship, along with a joint reading and reinterpretation of Alfred Gell’s two books The anthropology of time and Art and agency, provides this article’s point of departure for “situating time” in the theoretical sense of setting out an explicit temporal ontology—a kind of reflection that I argue is often missing in scholarship on time. This temporal ontology is in turn substantiated and developed through an ethnographic exploration of time’s performative dimensions, brought to bear through practices of situating time, here in an ethnographic sense. The empirical material is from fieldwork among people working via the internet from their homes in rural Denmark.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/707928