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Cultural and Biological Approaches to Uncover African Diversity
This book explores important chapters of past and recent African history from a multidisciplinary perspective. It covers an extensive time range from the evolution of early humans to the complex cultural and genetic diversity of modern-day populations in Africa. Through a comprehensive list of chapters, the book focuses on different time-periods, geographic regions and cultural and biological aspects of human diversity across the continent. Each chapter summarises current knowledge with perspectives from a varied set of international researchers from diverse areas of expertise. The book provides a valuable resource for scholars interested in evolutionary history and human diversity in Africa.

Contributors are Shaun Aron, Ananyo Choudhury, Bernard Clist, Cesar Fortes-Lima, Rosa Fregel, Jackson S. Kimambo, Faye Lander , Marlize Lombard, Fidelis T. Masao, Ezekia Mtetwa, Gilbert Pwiti, Michèle Ramsay, Thembi Russell, Carina Schlebusch, Dhriti Sengupta, Plan Shenjere-Nyabezi, Mário Vicente.
This interdisciplinary volume of essays explores how the notion of time varies across disciplines by examining variance as a defining feature of temporalities in cultural, creative, and scholarly contexts. Featuring a President’s Address by philosopher David Wood, it begins with critical reassessments of J.T. Fraser’s hierarchical theory of time through the lens of Anthropocene studies, philosophy, ecological theory, and ecological literature; proceeds to variant narratives in fiction, video games, film, and graphic novels; and concludes by measuring time’s variance with tools as different as incense clocks and computers, and by marking variance in music, film, and performance art.
Author: David Wood

Abstract

J. T. Fraser articulates five different organizational levels of time: proto-temporality (disconnected fragments of time); eotemporality (physics, the fourth dimension); biotemporality (self-organization, life, direction); and nootemporality (human mind, including language). He later added a sixth – sociotemporality. What impact would impending catastrophic climate change have on this schematization? We argue first that, while change is central to time, change in the very shape of change marks a new threshold in Fraser’s sense. We work through what it means to be a passive spectator to radical transformation, how our human experience of time is intrinsically tied up with language, representation, and money (can we afford to prevent the end of the world?), and the impact of a shrinking future horizon on our identity, on the Enlightenment project, and on any hope of progress. Finally, inhabiting time historically is subject to many strange loops, including the breakdown of the inductive assurances that the past traditionally supplied. Extending Fraser’s scheme and (following Keller’s adumbration of a kairological time), we endorse the possibility and indeed necessity of a new threshold, a new temporal dispensation.

In: Time in Variance

Abstract

Climate change and the environmental crisis more generally confront us with the need to think survival beyond the single organism. This project proposes that storytelling, emplotment, and the connective impulse of the human mind, have the potential to awaken our awareness of our dual existence as individuated beings and, simultaneously, as assemblages embedded in the ecologies of which we are a part. I turn to the novel La última playa (The Last Beach), by Atilio Caballero, to explore this potentiality and argue that, while the life of the single living organism is guided by the linearity of J. T. Fraser’s biotemporal, the individual being aware of its embeddedness is open to the “ecotemporal.” Ecotemporality is not limited to the singular body; it is the experience of the shared inhabitation of a moment in time by living organisms and non-living matter who are, for better or worse, bound by the same material fate.

In: Time in Variance
Author: Sonia Front

Abstract

In the twenty-first century, the postmodern multiplicity of temporal scales is accompanied by a new mode of temporality, established by the turn of the millennium and 9/11 terrorist attacks. The new time, in which the paradigms of linearity, causality, and succession are revised, is marked by the prevalent sense of threat and a sense of an ending, be it by terrorist means or as a result of climate change. In one strand of film and television narratives, the collapsed bridge between the centuries is symbolized by the temporal rifts brought about by the release of huge masses of energy, which produces the disruption of a single ontological reality and opens up impossible worlds, such as parallel universes, special zones or wormholes. On the basis of the series FlashForward and the film Annihilation, I analyze impossible spatio-temporalities and their influence on human time in an effort to advance the thesis that unlocking the scale of physics’ temporality to human experience is physically and psychologically intolerable.

In: Time in Variance
In: Time in Variance
Author: Steve Ostovich

Abstract

The title is lifted from an essay by J. T. Fraser in his book Time and Time Again (2007). It conveys Fraser’s conviction, a conviction shared here, that understanding time and reality requires us to redirect our thinking process. Plato describes a path out of the dark cave of confusion into the realm of truth and light, that is, from time towards the timeless. But we should “reverse course” along this path and move from the timeless into the complexity of time. Time is not one thing foundational to reality; reality rather is a series of temporal levels developed through evolution and related in a nested hierarchy driven by conflict and towards increasing complexity. This theory makes possible critical and fruitful reflection on issues like entropy, indeterminacy, and mind/body dualism. It entails embracing our position as knowers in time and the complexity of truth as temporal rather than timeless.

In: Time in Variance

Abstract

This article first explores how the multiple narrative timelines in the television science fiction series Westworld highlight the invariant narrative loops to which the android/gynoids “hosts” are subject. It then examines how host consciousness emerges once the hosts can remember their previous passages through their loops and thus begin to grasp their pasts and conceive of their futures. It concludes by considering how the fictional simulated beings of Westworld, as they escape from the unvarying timeloops to which they have been subject, demonstrate the role of time, memory, and narrative in the development of human consciousness.

In: Time in Variance
In: Time in Variance
Author: Sue Scheibler

Abstract

This essay uses existing scholarship on time in video games to analyze the ways that the video game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim uses time to offer a richly rewarding game experience for players. It approaches the game as a blend of progressive and emergent play and argues that these two approaches map onto Jesper Juul’s categories of playtime and fictional time and Jenkin’s argument about embedded narrative to explain the reason why the game, originally released in 2011, continues to be popular, praised for its gameplay and story. In addition, I read the use of time in the game through my own experience as an autistic player with ADD to comment on the specific pleasures offered to players who have a heightened sensitivity to temporal variations.

In: Time in Variance