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COMPARING TIME AND TEMPORALITY IN CULTURES

By Rik Pinxten

Abstract

In this article I investigate how time perception and conceptualization in another culture (Navajo Indian culture) can be understood. The now ’classi-cal ’ distinction between cyclical time (in non-western cultures) and linear time (in the western tradition) is challenged. Instead, a particular complex of temporality notions in the Navajo culture yields a series of interesting avenues for the study of time as a cultural, rather than a mere natural, phenomenon. The Scope of This Study Comparative research is a necessary, but extremely hazardous subdisci-pline of anthropology. This is even more so when the subject of com-parison is such an important but difficult notion as the temporality of cultures. My proposal is to work with root principles (or cultural intuitions) in comparison and in ethnographic descriptions. The obvious intuition I start from is that all cultures deal with a similar minimal set of problems. Without giving myself over to the task of deli-neating this set, I merely suggest that some of the problems I have been investigating belong to it: spatial orientation and movement; the structure and dynamics of the universe and of the man-universe relationship(s); time, age, change, generation and related phenomena such as birth and death. The list is far from exhaustive. Since I conjecture that every culture (and to some extent every individual human being) deals with these topics/ problems and represents a certain way of ordering them, I am driven to question cultural phenomena to determine what the culture-particular This article was refereed for publication by C. Farrer and O. Werner

Year: 2016
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.927.6290
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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