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Research

Sucheta Ghoshal

Winter 2022

TIME IS A TECHNOLOGY (TIAT)

Advised by Sucheta Ghoshal
Facilitated by Nat Mengist

Winter 2022 — time TBD
One credit seminar

This DRG is at capacity for winter quarter and no longer accepting applications.

“The Challenges of the ‘Semester Slam’ are: Unstructured time; Varied and time-consuming commitments; The tendency to unconsciously prioritize seemingly urgent, unimportant tasks and other needs while neglecting our own health, well-being, relationships, and long-term success; Lack of clarity about how much time research and writing tasks actually take; Institutional cultures where everyone works all the time.” [1]

“Within the Yoruba culture, the world is first and foremost understood as a field of dynamic flows of experiences, a space of visible and invisible, destructive and creative encounters. Its divinities and ancestors are governed by the same laws as humans and are placed into the fourth dimension: the transitional space between the past, present, and future. Immersion into the cosmos allows one to overcome the anxiety and anguish these shifting flows of forces generate, and helps one to better understand the cosmos.” [2]

[1]  Anthony Ocampo, “SKILL #1: Every Semester Needs a Plan” (Webinar, National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, Detroit, MI, January 14, 2021), https://www.facultydiversity.org/webinars/semesterplan21.

[2] Felwine Sarr, Afrotopia (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2019), 84, https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/afrotopia.

As the epigraphs above suggest, this directed research group hopes to create a collaborative space to discuss and critically engage with the institutional reality of time. Time has been positioned as an essential currency by the commodity cultures of global capitalism and white supremacist domination. Grounded in this historical, socioeconomic, and cultural understanding, we aim to question some of the common assumptions underlying the institutionalized realities of time that get inscribed in the design (processes and outcomes) of popular technologies.

Questions that interest us include, but are not limited to: what does it mean to “spend time” or “save time”?; do we have “all the time in the world,” or is time “short”?; how did the phrases "time is money" and "colored people's time" come into vernacular discourse?; and finally, how might we enable these (and many other) temporal interventions to create time that works for liberation, rather than against liberation?

Toward these ends, we strive to generate the following learning outcomes in this space:

  • Exploring the historical range of temporal technocultures: The content of TIAT is structured in order to raise collective consciousness about the plurality of temporal philosophies across history and culture: specifically Black, indigeneous, and other liberatory engagements with time that predate the social reality of time manufactured by racial capitalism.
  • Evaluating the moral and material worth of temporally-situated claims: Furthering our critical examination of temporal technocultures of the present day in white, Western contexts, we will study how popular expressions like “time is money” leads to investing moral and material value into something as intangible and superfluous as time.
  • Experimenting with technological mediations of time and tempo: Finally, we will learn to leverage insights from Black, indigeneous technocultures of time (“colored people’s time”) through thoughtful experimentation with the mediating functionality of rhythm, gesture, and animation in order to practice instantiating temporal formations committed to compassion over profit.

TIAT borrows from Kirsty M. Robertson’s “clutter curating” style of collaborative teaching and learning. The first half of the quarter focuses on guided research through shared readings and facilitator-led discussion (curated). This will prepare us for self-determined research through independent readings and participant-led discussion in the second half of the quarter (cluttered).

Weekly commitment includes (1) participating in an hour-long synchronous session with (2) two hours of asynchronous thinking/producing between sessions, which will be held remotely via Zoom. This DRG is at capacity for winter quarter and no longer accepting applications.


 

Dr. Ghoshal's Research Group archive