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Synchronizing the World. Globalization and Multiple Times (completed)

What time are we living in? And with whom do we share this time? What other times are running parallell to ours? How can we synchronize these times?                        

Johan Christoph Gatterer's synchronistic table from 1764.

About the Project

Synchronizing the World: the Making of Modern Progress. In this project we target one of the most enduring myths of the Western world: the myth of progress.

Traditionally, this concept of time is said to emerge in Western Europe in the 18th century. Genres like universal history and the modern encyclopedia display a multitude of times, but they also attempt to bring all these times to move according to the same rhythm – they synchronize them.

In the 19th and 20th centuries this Western synchronized idea of progress is taken up in the ideology of imperialism and colonization and is exported to colonies and contact zones, where the West is confronted with other cultures, with other inherent times. What happens when the same genres are employed, mostly by local elites, to bring Bengali, Ottoman, and Arab knowledge traditions and concepts in synch with the Western ones – when progress is made global, not just on paper, but in practice?  


Arabic in the Provincial Age   

Synchronising the Ottomans

Technologies of Progress: Scientific Encyclopedias and Periodicals in 19th Century Bengal                

Published June 3, 2014 9:43 AM - Last modified Jan. 8, 2019 1:33 PM