October 29: Designing Temporality II: Productivity + Speed

We’ll start off with your groups’ fieldwork presentations. We’ll then think about the “designing of time,” in various cultural contexts, through product design, industrial design, service design, architecture, urbanism, fashion, etc.; the ideologies and cultural values embodied in those temporal objects and systems; how temporality plays out in design’s supply chains and fabrication and consumption and user experience; and how ethnographic methods might enhance designers’ temporal sensibilities.

We won’t have time to discuss all the readings this week, but they should inform our discussion of your presentations!

  • John Postill, “Clock and Calendar Time: A Missing Anthropological Problem,” Time & Society 11:2-3 (2002): 251-70.
  • Choose one of the following — whichever best matches your interests!:
    • Michael Fisch, “Introduction: Toward a Theory of the Machine” and “Inhabiting the Interval” in An Anthropology of the Machine: Tokyo’s Commuter Train Network (University of Chicago Press, 2018): 1-28, 48-77.
    • Melissa Gregg, “Introduction: The Productivity Imperative” and “The Aesthetics of Activity: Productivity and the Order of Things” in Counterproductive: Time Management in the Knowledge Economy (Duke University Press, 2018): 3-21, 78-99.
    • Natasha Dow Schull, “Introduction,” “Interior Design for Interior States,” and “Engineering Experience” in Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas (Princeton University Press, 2012): 1-75.
  • Christina Moon, “The Secret World of Fast Fashion,Pacific Standard (March 17, 2014) [sadly, most images are missing– a consequence of the rapid rot of online publications; you can find some of Lauren Lancaster’s photos here].
  • Consider: what else can be designed for speed? Cars, food, typography, user interfaces,… ?
  • Post a slide to our response deck?


  • Architecture in Time: The Temporal Conditions of Architecture,” Birkbeck, University of London, 2010.
  • Kevin Birth, “Clocks, Politics, and Changing Times,” The Frick Collection (October 16, 2013) <video>.
  • Kevin K. Birth, Objects of Time: How Things Shape Temporality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012).
  • Georgina Born, “Making Time: Temporality, History, and the Cultural Object,” New Literary History 46:3 (2015): 361-86.
  • Anne Line Dalsgård, Martin Fredericksen, Susanne Højlund, and Lotte Meinert, eds., Ethnographies of Youth and Temporality: Time Objectified (Temple University Press, 2014).
  • Design and Temporality” Correspondences, Fieldsights (Society for Cultural Anthropology: June 2, 2016).
  • Vincent Duclos, Tomás Sánchez Criado, and Vinh-Kim Nguyen, eds., “Speed” Special Issue, Cultural Anthropology 32:1 (2017).
  • Elizabeth Ellsworth and Jamie Kruse, eds., Making the Geologic Now: Responses to Material Conditions of Contemporary Life (Punctum Books, 2012).
  • Jason Farman, “Spinning in Place” and “Tactics for Waiting” in Delayed Response: The Art of Waiting from the Ancient to the Instant World (Yale University Press, 2018): 65-82, 183-96.
  • Alfred Gell, The Anthropology of Time: Cultural Constructions of Temporal Maps and Images (Berg, 1992).
  • Tim Ingold, “The Temporality of the Landscape,” World Archaeology 25:2 (1993): 152-74.
  • Alexander R. Jones, Time and Cosmos in Greco-Roman Antiquity (Princeton University Press, 2016).
  • Andreas Muxel’s work.
  • Christina Moon, “The LA Rag Trade,” Vestoj (2017).
  • Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy (Melville House, 2019).
  • Repertoires of Timekeeping in Anthropology,” Special Issue of Current Anthropology 43: S4 (2002).
  • Maria Rogal and Cassie McDaniel, “Designing Time,” AIGA (April 25, 2006).
  • Rebekah Rousi, “The Experience of No Experience: Elevator UX and the Role of Unconscious Experience,” Proceedings of the International Conference on Making Sense of Converging Media, Tempere, Finland, October 2013.
  • Sarah Sharma, In the Meantime: Temporality and Cultural Politics (Duke University Press, 2014).
  • Filipa Matos Wunderlick, “Place-Temporality and Urban Place-Rhythms in Urban Analysis and Design: An Aesthetic Akin to Music,” Journal of Urban Design 18:3 (2013).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *