The theme for the 2008 Social Science History Association conference was “It’s about Time.” By surveying the program and panels on offer in Miami, the presidential address instead asked, “Is it about time?” Location and space figured more centrally than time in the titles of the conference’s many papers. Still, two conceptions of time were prominent features of the program. For some scholars, the past is like a foreign country; it can be compared to the present. For even more of the 2008 presenters, however, interest in time meant a concern with process. The analysis of time reflected on the program seemed to have developed along disciplinary lines. Historians and life-course sociologists analyzed time through narratives, time lines, or periodization. Sociologists dominated the theorization of time as sequential. Time geographers were most explicit in relating time and space, mainly in micro-level analyses. How to visualize and represent time in two dimensions remained an unsettled matter; some disciplines imagined timed processes as narrow or broad (represented along an x-axis), while others analyzed them as shallow or deep (represented along a y-axis). Scholars working with timed media, such as video, may have insights into how to overcome this representational roadblock.


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