Reform Of Time: Magic and Modernity / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Not Available on


In this fascinating study, Maureen Perkins looks at the concept of time - and how we measure it - to see what it reveals about struggles for control and autonomy throughout history. Linking the decline of superstition in the nineteenth century to the discovery of mechanisms to measure time, Perkins argues that this marginalization of superstition is part of a social history of time management.

The decline of magic is usually discussed in terms of the rise of scientific knowledge and the spread of education. Here, Perkins gives unique insight into the way in which the ruling classes used the technology to invent new concepts of time to increase their control over the lives of their subjects. Approaching enduring questions of colonialisation and class from an unusual angle, she relates differing concepts of time to colonial discourse, particularly in relation to gypsies and to Australian Aborigines and finally to the development of national identity in calendar illustrations. The book also explores astrology and prophetic dreaming.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Perkins (communication and cultural studies, Curtin U. of Technology) challenges the idea that the decline of magic is the result of the rise of scientific knowledge and the spread of education. She argues that 19th-century marginalization of superstition is part of a social history of time management. In th course of her discussion she relates differing concepts of time to colonial discourse, surveys technological developments in the calculation of time, and assesses the role of popular beliefs in astrology, books of fate, and prophetic dreaming. Distributed by Stylus. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780745317281
  • Publisher: Pluto Press
  • Publication date: 3/20/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 168
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Nugent is the head of the Anthropology Department at Goldsmiths College, University of London, a song writer (with Ian Dury) and the author (with Humphrey Ocean) of Big Mouth: The Amazon Speaks (Fourth Estate, 1990). Cris Shore is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Auckland (New Zealand). His most recent publications are: Up Close and Personal: On Peripheral Perspectives and the Production of Anthropological Knowledge', Oxford/New York: Berghahn (co-edited with Susanna Trnka, 2013) and 'The Sage Handbook of Social Anthropology'.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of Figures
Introduction: Superstition and Progress 1
1 Clocks, Calendars and Centralisation 19
The Clock 22
The Calendar 25
The Future 33
2 Fortune-Telling 40
3 The Intrepretation of Dreams 59
The Status of Dreams 59
Books of Fate and Dream Books 65
Women and Superstition 70
Condemnation of Dream Books 74
Dreams and Rationality 80
Conclusion 83
4 Timeless Cultures 84
The Wandering Tribes 87
Timeless Cultures 92
The Future 100
5 Calendar Girls 103
Conclusion 126
Notes 131
Select Bibliography 148
Index 157
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)