Nynke Anna van der Mark | Time Reforms and the Temporal Other – An Analysis of Standard Time and Progressive Time in the Dutch East Indies, 1867-1940


This paper asks how time standardisation and the colonial notion of progressive time acted and interacted in the Dutch East Indies. The colonisation of time was a process that had started long before the nineteenth century, by missionaries who subjected non-Western people to the mission bell and Christian rhythms. It continued with the spread of the Gregorian calendar, which penetrated the daily life more and more as colonial rule became tighter. During the nineteenth century, the perception of time in Europe changed to incorporate time-efficiency, fit for the industrial-capitalist society. Technological advancements such as the railway and the telegraph pushed towards synchronised and standardised time, a process that was soon adopted in the empires as well. At the same time, evolutionist and developmental theories gained popularity in scientific discourse. It allowed anthropologists and others to imagine a temporal grid on which different groups of people could be placed. It created various dichotomies, such as civilised versus uncivilised, rational versus irrational and backward versus modern. These categories were part of a temporal framework, in which the Other was denied coevalness, or placed outside of ‘shared time’.

Official time reforms in the Dutch East Indies followed international tendencies to abandon different local times and replace them with one regional time and align railway time to it. This paper shows how standard time and progressive time were interpreted by the coloniser and incorporated into a colonial temporal discourse.

Lees hier het korte, Nederlandstalige essay dat Nynke Anna op basis van dit paper schreef!

Nynke Anna van der Mark (1994) is bezig met haar scriptie over de Lawaspoorlijn in twintigste-eeuws Suriname voor de Researchmaster Colonial and Global History en schrijft ook haar scriptie voor de Master International Relations, Global Order in a Historical Perspective, beide aan de universiteit Leiden. Haar interesse ligt op het gebied van Global/Social History met veel uitstapjes naar postkolonialisme en Subaltern Studies. Daarnaast werkt ze als redacteur en schrijft ze graag.

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