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The Measure and Meaning of Time in the Americas

October 5–6, 2012 | Pre-Columbian Studies Symposium, Anthony Aveni, Symposiarch

Dumbarton Oaks is pleased to announce the annual Pre-Columbian symposium, to be held in the Music Room of Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, D.C., on Friday, October 5 and Saturday, October 6, 2012. Please note that the symposium will be two full days: sessions will begin at 9 a.m. on Friday, and conclude Saturday evening.

Regardless of what our senses might tell us, in the Western worldview time is regarded as a thing apart, the mere measure of duration, a metric quantity that is continuous, homogeneous, and unchangeable. But like so many concepts we engage in the study of other cultures, time can possess a variety of essences and meanings. This symposium brings together a group of scholars from diverse disciplines and interdisciplines to engage in a dialog regarding the multitude of expressions and understandings of temporal existence in the Mesoamerican and Andean worlds.  We deal with questions such as:  Are the differences we recognize between history and myth transferable to these cultures? How does one comprehend time in relation to the transcendent? How is time manifested in ritual as well as in the land/skyscape in which it is practiced?  How is time expressed in text and imagery? What is the relation between time and number? And what do we know about how indigenous ways of dealing with time changed, especially following the sudden contact with the Spanish invader? An added dimension to the symposium is concerned with comparing time’s meaning not only with that in Western tradition but also in other world cultures.

The symposium is organized with Anthony Aveni (Colgate University). Symposium speakers include Alfredo López Austin (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), William Barnes (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota), Harvey Bricker (Tulane University), Victoria Bricker (Tulane University), Linda Brown (George Washington University), Jahl Dulanto (DePauw University), Markus Eberl (Vanderbilt University), Richard Landes (Boston University), John Monaghan (University of Illinois at Chicago), Stella Nair (University of California, Riverside), Juan Ossio (Universidad Pontificia Católica del Peru), and Tristan Platt (University of St. Andrews).