A Moment's Notice: Time Politics Across Cultures / Edition 1

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Overview

Focusing on the problem of time - the paradox of time's apparent universality and cultural relativity - Carol J. Greenhouse develops an original ethnographic account of our present moment, the much-heralded postmodern condition, which is at the same time a reflexive analysis of ethnography itself. She argues that time is about agency and accountability, and that representations of time are used by institutions of law, politics, and scholarship to selectively refashion popular ideas of agency into paradigms of institutional legitimacy. A Moment's Notice suggest that the problem of time in theory is the corollary of problems of power in practice. Greenhouse develops her theory in examinations of three moments of cultural and political crisis: the resistance of the Aztecs against Cortes, the consolidation of China's First Empire, and the recent partisan political contests over Supreme Court nominees in the United States. In each of these cases, temporal innovation is integral to political improvisation, as traditions of sovereignty confront new cultural challenges. These cases return the discussion to current issues of inequality, postmodernity, cultural pluralism, and ethnography.
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Editorial Reviews

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"Greenhouse moves from the idea that perceptions of time and what time plans are culturally specific to the idea that cultural notions of time are linked to cultural notions about how the world works, or 'agency.' She includes discussions of the anthropological theories of time and their relationship to beliefs about death, a critique of the notion of social structure, and case studies that show the relationship of official assumptions of time-as-history to the responses of state elites toward challenges brought against them from below. These challenges to state legitimacy arise from the increasing diversity of populations within the state. The illustrative cases cover a wide range: the late-20th-century US, China 2,300 years ago, and early-16th-century Mexico. They show that official views of time and history are important in establishing and maintaining political legitimacy."—Choice, Vol. 34, No. 7, March 1997
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801482281
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.02 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
1 Time, Life, and Society 19
2 Relative Time and the Limits of Law 49
3 Agency and Authority 77
4 Time and Territory in Ancient China 113
5 Time and Sovereignty in Aztec Mexico 144
6 Time, Life, and Law in the United States 175
Conclusion: Postmodernity This Time 211
Notes 237
References 279
Index 307
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