Time-rich: 1960s counterculture and time as affluence in a dropout community in Hawai‘i

Lucy Pickering


What does it mean to be rich? This paper explores prosperity from the perspective not of material affluence but of temporal affluence. Drawing on ethnographic material from an American counterculture dropout community in Hawai‘i, I examine ways in which material lack and temporal plenty can be bound together and understood not as privation but as affluence. Bringing Sahlins’s (1972) work on the “Zen solution to scarcity and want” and the seminal countercultural text Be here now (Ram Dass 1971) into dialogue with anthropological, economic, and philosophical analyses of the present moment, this paper offers a framework for examining “having” and “taking” time as forms of affluence beyond the framework set by the study of slow movements. It offers an ethnographic example of an “expanded present” as a conceptual space from which to envision and enact forms of modernity that escape the anxieties of acceleration that tend to dominate discussions of time and modernity.


Time, affluence, Hawai‘i, counterculture, cannabis

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/701025