Type / Thesis

Time and the Other: Notes on Postcolonial-Global “Contemporaneity”

Chun-yen Chen

Page / 119-158


A major strand in the theories of globalization has been advancing the spatialization of theory, arguing that spatial thinking offers a more effective way (than temporal thinking) to undermine Eurocentrism. This paper contests such a proposition by bringing into view the relevance of time and temporality in the context of postcolonial globalization. Drawing on theories of Homi K. Bhabha, Harry Harootunian, Henri Lefebvre, and Dipesh Chakrabarty, I argue that “temporality” can help us attend to the question of ethics on various fronts. First of all, “temporality” can provide a valid perspective on issues of “radical difference” such as spiritual or religious experience. In comparison, the now practically sanctified global-local dyad in theories of globalization, a predominantly spatialized model (“of a globe” vs. “of a locale”), oftentimes falls short of addressing non-secular experiences. Secondly, in response to the popular view that the “outside” has disappeared in the age of globalization, I suggest that “temporality” can in effect serve as an outside intervening in the seemingly totalizing logic of globalization. Thirdly, a consideration of temporality can also help further postcolonial theory by broadening its discussions beyond the parameters of “history,” as the concept of temporality encompasses more than just history or historicity.

Keywords : postcolonial globalization, temporality, contemporaneity, ethics, Fredric Jameson, Homi K. Bhabha, Harry Harootunian, Henri Lefebvre, Dipesh Chakrabar
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