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CONSTRUCTING TEMPORAL OTHERNESS: WESTERN TRAVELERSAND TIMEKEEPING IN THE BALKANS (16th-19th C.)

Andreas Lyberatos, Panteion University & Institute for Mediterranean Studies/FORTH

Abstract: The Western and Central European travelers visiting the Balkan Peninsula from the 16th until the 19th century provide very important sources for the history of time in the region. Their time-sensitive and “outsider” position enables them to offer valuable information pertaining to time-keeping practices in the region, the “spread” of clock towers and the diffusion of watches, or the pace and geography of the use of the European timekeeping system. However, alongside their informative function, the writings of the European travelers contribute crucially to the construction of the region’s temporal “otherness” vis-à-vis “civilized” Europe. They create and convey to their ever expanding reader public a multitude of visual and acoustic representations which underpin and re-enact “the non-simultaneity” of the region and its culture. The purpose of the paper is to highlight, through the use of several examples drawn out from a large body of data, the main time related topics present in Western travelogues about the Balkans and inquire into the discursive processes and mechanisms employed in the construction of the region’s temporal “otherness”.

Keywords: Time, Timekeeping, Balkans, Ottoman Empire, Travelers