The colonisation of time

Ritual, routine and resistance in the British Empire

By Giordano Nanni

The colonisation of time


  • Paperback

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-1840-0
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: October 2020
  • BIC Category: History, United Kingdom, Great Britain, European history, Colonialism & imperialism, HISTORY / Social History, HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Humanities / Colonialism & imperialism
  • Series: Studies in Imperialism


The Colonisation of Time is a highly original and long overdue examination of the ways that western-European and specifically British concepts and rituals of time were imposed on other cultures as a fundamental component of colonisation during the nineteenth century. Based on a wealth of primary sources, it explores the intimate relationship between the colonisation of time and space in two British settler-colonies (Victoria, Australia and the Cape Colony, South Africa) and its instrumental role in the exportation of Christianity, capitalism, and modernity, thus adding new depth to our understanding of imperial power and of the ways in which it was exercised and limited. All those intrigued by the concept of time will find this book of interest, for it illustrates how western-European time's rise to a position of global dominance-from the clock to the seven-day week-is one of the most pervasive, enduring and taken-for-granted legacies of colonisation in today's world.


This impressive book is the first sustained treatment of the effective British colonisation of indigenous time practices. Analysing both the Cape Colony and Australia, Nanni deftly draws our attention to the enormous significance of the temporal as well as the spatial, for the making of the colonial world'.

Alan Lester, Professor of Historical Geography at the University of Sussex

For those of us who live in capitalist societies, time keeping and time observance are pillars that structure our everyday lives. Nanni's thought-provoking book is a reminder of one very significant moment in history when those pillars were defined by reference to a particular kind of colonial encounter, which is something that will be of interest to students of empire, historians of time, and post-colonial scholars.


General Editor's introduction
1. Clocks, Sabbaths and seven-day weeks: The forging of temporal identities
2. Terra sine tempore: Colonial constructions of 'Aboriginal time'
3. Cultural curfews: The contestation of time in settler-colonial Victoria
4. 'The moons are always out of order': Constructions of 'African time'
5. Empire of the seventh day: Time and the Sabbath beyond the Cape frontiers
6. Lovedale, missionary schools and the reform of 'African time'
7. Conclusion: From colonisation to globalisation
Select Bibliography


Giordano Nanni is an Honorary Fellow of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

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