Call for papers

Synchronizing the World: Historic Times, Globalized Times, Anthropogenic Times

University of Oslo, Norway

12-14 June 2017

For its three day international conference, the SAMKUL (RCN) project Synchronizing the World invites papers that investigate the problem of multiple temporalities and their synchronization in the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment world. We define synchronization as the process by which the Enlightenment notion of progress, a temporal concept, was made global through the processes of colonialism and globalization.

During the Enlightenment, new genre technologies for synchronizing natural, geological, cultural and historical times emerge in this period, including the iconic encyclopedias, novels, universal histories. These genres also spread outwards to the colonies especially in Asia and Africa in the second colonial wave, giving rise to the new discursive vocabularies of “Oriental Renaissances”, reformations or reconstructions across colonial contact zones. 

However, the process of synchronization was also continually questioned, challenged, and fragmented in this new globalization. For instance, moral progress regulated by missionary activity was as much a part of the exploitative nature of colonialism as in conflict with it and other religious belief systems, which seemed to operate with their own temporalities. In the late 20th century, the rhetoric of breakdown in the process of synchronization seems to be undergirded by geopolitical conflicts in a neo-colonial world. Conflicts that unravel the violence inherent in the process of universalizing progress often have their origins in what Paul Virilio has termed “globalitarianism,” a form of exploitative colonial techno-totalitarianism built on the export of capitalism through globalization.

A special focus area for the current discussions of synchronization and its effects is in the area of geological temporalities, where synchronized crises as the result of anthropogenic climate change and other human activity continually produce an apocalyptic vision of the future. This new kind of synchronization channels the dystopian mirror of Enlightenment notions of progress, and may even be described as a means to counter nonsynchronicity by recasting it as the “synchronized crises of unsynchronized effects”: where effects that are planetary in scope are felt only locally in terms of impact. 

Abstracts for 20 minute papers are invited on these topics

1. Comparative studies of the Enlightenment notion of progress and progress in the colonial contact zones 

2. Studies of the 19 th century progress phenomenons such as the Arab Nahda, the Ottoman Tanzimat, the Meiji Ishin, and the Bengal Renaissance 

3. Investigations into the genres of synchronization: universal histories, encyclopedias and the novel and others, and how these categories developed the notion of progress

4. Studies of entangled temporalities such as geological times, clock times, and cultural times

5. The instrumentalization of temporalities

6. The failure of synchronization as a process and the role of residual or dominant discourses in nonsynchronicities

7. The effect of nonsynchronicities on the technologies of progress and globalization

8. The effect of nonsynchronicity in investigating the development of genre

9. The role of synchronization processes in the definition of crises

10. Investigating the problem of multiple temporalities in terms of distributed environmental and geopolitical effects of anthropogenic activity


500 WORD Abstracts may be sent by 25 FEBRUARY 2017:


Published Jan. 26, 2017 4:26 PM - Last modified Oct. 27, 2017 1:15 PM