Janet Hoskins provides both an ethnographic study of the organization of time in an Eastern Indonesian society and a theoretical argument about alternate temporalities in the modern world. Based on more than three years of field work with the Kodi people of the island of Sumba, her book focuses on Kodi calendrical rituals, exchange transactions, and confrontations with the historical forces of the colonial and postcolonial world. Hoskins explores the contingent, contested, and often contradictory precedent of the past to show how local systems of knowledge are in dialogue with wider historical forces.
Arguing that traditional temporality is more complex than many theorists have realized, Hoskins highlights the flexibility and relativity of local time concepts, whose sophistication belies the cliche of simple societies living in a world outside of time.
Janet Hoskins is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Southern California.
1996 Harry J. Benda Prize, Association for Asian Studies