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There is an important analytical corollary to this line of thought: In examining this topic, there are four pitfalls that have plagued earlier attempts that must be avoided. First, many accounts of the social nature of time and space, and thus of time-space compression, are implicitly elitist Stein , focusing only on the experiences of the powerful, or of intellectuals, and ignoring how the great masses of people who were neither felt their sense of time and space transformed. This observation indicates that there is never simply one time and one space being produced in any society, but always a diversity contingent on class, gender, ethnicity, and other lines of social life.

To cross distances, to produce places, to experience time is inevitably to draw upon and be shaped by the biophysical environment: For example, colonial and industrial maritime networks of trade, migration, and investment—all of which generated relational geographies in their own ways, and thus folded time and space—enfolded forests and deserts, grasslands and jungles, seas and oceans within changing manifolds of temporal and spatial distance.

Theorizing time-space compression 39 Third, time-space compression does not necessarily occur in short, sudden, dramatic, and sweeping changes. Although some historical moments have been truly revolutionary in terms of their impacts on time and space, often the restructuring of these two dimensions occurred more gradually.

Stein , for example, drawing upon guides to steamship services in nineteenthcentury Cornwall, Ontario, notes that steamboats reduced the time necessary for the trip from Montreal to Kingston from 26 to 24 hours between and , a savings of only a few minutes per year. Time-space compression is frequently gradual and cumulative, evolutionary, not necessarily revolutionary, or, in the words of May and Thrift Poststructural theory, in emphasizing the centrality of language and representation as means by which the world is made present, extends the understanding of time-space compression into the domains of the discursive and imaginative.

Changes in relational distances are therefore intimately bound up with changes in individual and social identities Pile and Thrift In this sense, the analysis of time-space compression can learn much from, and contribute to, the literatures and understandings of Orientalism and postcolonialism Said ; Gregory There is no single theorization that can explain time-space compression in all of its diverse historical and spatial contexts: Rather than attempt to form one overarching theory of timespace, May and Thrift propose that we accept the multiplicity of timespaces characteristic of every society: The earliest forms of modernity, those associated most closely with colonialism, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment, indicate the constellation of attributes that characterize global capitalism prior to the Industrial Revolution.

The European domination of the world widened the Western ecumene from Europe to the entire globe on a scale unprecedented in world history. They were homebodies compared with Queen Victoria. There are innumerable attempts at explaining the origins and sources of the European success, all of which are tied to the tendency of capitalism to expand over time.

Such an argument, however, does not address the means by which Europeans came to dominate their colonies, i. In the view of world-systems theory, colonialism witnessed numerous hegemons dominate the global economy at successive historical moments, including Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, and Britain, and later, the U. Needless to say, colonialism entailed dramatic consequences for colonized peoples everywhere, although the impacts varied widely by time and space.

The construction of the Eurocentric world order was, among other things, a violent program of enslavement, mass extermination and genocide, broken treaties, and displacement. Whole societies were turned upside down; some were extinguished altogether. Colonialism transformed the oceans from barriers into a means of accessing lands beyond, even if those were unknown or only dimly perceived. Often this process was borne of dire necessity: Oceanic discoveries and conquests also propelled a gradual restructuring of European spatiality, with a decline in the Italian city-states and the Hanseatic League and a rise of the Atlantic sea powers, shifting the primary locus of trade and balance of power from the Mediterranean and Baltic to the Atlantic, in which not one but several empires operated simultaneously.

The emerging colonial world system was heavily conditioned by the preexisting European discursive and imaginative geographies. Colonial voyages simultaneously put to rest ancient conceptions of the earth, particularly those of Ptolemy, and opened the way for newer, more pragmatic accounts of how the earth worked.

Indeed, prior to numerous European scholars believed that the shortest route to India lay across the Atlantic. The voyages of navigation, exploration, and conquest initially revealed to Europeans how large the world truly was and how small Europe was in comparison. European scholars were acutely aware that the maritime voyages were radically expanding their known world. In this sense, colonialism, at least in its opening phases, was as much a process of time-space expansion as compression.

Under Henry the Navigator, Lisbon became the new global center of navigational and cartographic expertise. Portuguese expansion replaced the older land-and-sea trade networks with an all-ocean one, greatly lowering the costs of bringing goods from Asia to Europe and inducing cost-space convergence Cipolla ; Hugill Yet it would wrong, or at least Eurocentric, to conceive of this process as simply one of reaching out across the surface of the earth; to invoke Massey The European discovery of the Americas, likewise, initiated a momentous material and discursive transformation.

Ensuing colonial discursive geographies projected the European experience of time and space upon a global stage. Moreover, these observations underscore how the discourses used to make sense of time-space compression are inevitably palimpsests that intertwine the contemporary and the past, folding them into each other in complex, contingent, and often unpredictable ways. Old habits die hard, however, and it took centuries for the tenacious earlier mythology to let go: Given how far such places were from Europe—a round-trip voyage to Asia could take three years—direct control over colonial entrepots was often loose at best.

Nonetheless, colonialism bound Europe and Asia into increasingly intertwined entities.

Time-Space Compression: Historical Geographies

For instance, the Portuguese knew well the importance of Southeast Asia to Europe: In the New World, Portuguese and especially Spanish colonialism quickly integrated vast domains into the European sphere of control, annihilating Native American civilizations in a process that Blaut and Frank credit with jump-starting the capitalist economy. Spanish silver also found its way directly to the Ottomans and thence to the Indian Ocean.

Silver also drew the economies of disparate places together like no phenomenon had before, intertwining their economic fate in a series of boom and bust cycles. In short, the earliest waves of time-space compression Figure 3. Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian empire-building was soon matched by that of the Dutch and British. In imposing new spatialities both tangible and imagined over the innumerable societies that fell before the Western juggernaut, it also produced new subjectivities, new ideologies, Early modern time-space compression 49 and new geographies.

Was human nature everywhere the same?

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Geographical encounters with human diversity threw up these and other questions that centered not just on human origins and social progress over time but also on distributions over space. This conception was central to the self-identity of European modernity: European technological superiority was everywhere heralded as both a means and a legitimation of domination over non-Western peoples Headrick Orientalism framed the Western encounter with other cultures by discursively marginalizing non-European cultures, depriving them of the capacity for dynamism, a notion implicit in many conservative views of the world-system even today.

Similarly, Pratt maintains that the European conquerors, narrators, travel writers, and other producers of discourse selectively incorporated the vast variety of non-Western landscapes, many discursively naturalized as feminine, into the masculinist, Western grid of knowledge. Folding time and space in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment The expansion of capitalism on a worldwide basis inevitably entailed farreaching changes in European constructions of time and space.

Accounting was more than simply the rationalization of economic transactions, it was also a form of disciplinary power: Central to the emergence of early modern culture were the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, the later, relatively secular counterpart and extension of the former. Thus, rather than seeing the latter as an abstract set of ideas suspended above space and time, Withers encourages us to think about the Enlightenment as a set of situated social practices, i. Despite these caveats, it is possible to note several facets of how these two intertwined intellectual transformations played central roles in the rise of early modern thought about space and time: Not coincidentally, the voyages by which Europeans came to discover the remainder of the planet were accompanied by a wide-ranging transformation in their discourses about the role of the earth in the heavens.

Astronomy, therefore, was as much a pragmatic science as one with theological implications. The telescope, invented by Hans Lipperhey in the Netherlands in and famously employed by Galileo to study the moons of Jupiter, revealed that the universe is much larger than that available to human senses; indeed, as the gargantuan sizes of astronomical distances became increasingly apparent, astronomy became the most humbling of disciplines.

Copernicus revealed that just as Europe was no longer the center of the world, the earth was no longer center of the universe. The Copernican revolution not only suggested that the natural world operated on a clock-like basis, in contrast to magical, 52 Early modern time-space compression animistic feudal views, but equally important, so did the social world, i. Like space, so too did the European notion of historical time undergo a profound transformation.

This process developed highly unevenly across the face of Europe, and was most pronounced in the leading centers of capital accumulation in Italy, where the new mercantile order drew deeply upon a mythologized past to legitimate itself. What Portugal was for adventurers in geography, Italy was for history. Somewhat later, during the Enlightenment, this linearization of time assumed the form of progress, which went from being one of many Western views of history to being the dominant one Nisbet , imparting to time the characteristics of continuous improvement.

Linear time, however, began with Christian eschatology in the medieval era, but now became steadily secularized as capitalism unleashed round upon round of social and technological innovation. Cartesian rationalism was predicated on the distinction between the inner reality of the mind and the outer reality of Early modern time-space compression 53 objects; the latter could only be brought into the former, rationally at least, through a neutral, disembodied gaze situated above space and time. Medieval, multiple vantage points in art or literature were displaced by a single disembodied, omniscient, and panopticonic eye.

To visualize, to gain insight, to keep an eye on something, is to invoke a host of cultural and linguistic tools to make sense of reality. Illumination was conceived to be a process of rationalization, of bringing the environment into consciousness through the modality of vision, which is but one of several competing forms of gaining understanding.

Perspectivalist vision made a single sovereign eye the center of the visible world. In the new picture of the world, size meant not human or divine importance, but distance. Co-catalytic with the Cartesian model of the human subject was the geometric view of space that it suggested; the ascendance of vision as a criterion for truth merged Euclidean geometry with the notion of a detached observer Hillis This worldview had powerful social and material consequences. Harley stressed that these same values were replicated within cartography, with its all-seeing, invisible creator assuming the mantle of objectivity.

That this view arose precisely during the birth of modern science was hardly coincidental: In both cases space was robbed of substantive meaningfulness to become an ordered, uniform system of abstract linear coordinates. The ascendancy of ocularcentrism also initiated the long-standing Western practice of emphasizing the temporal over the spatial.


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Drawing upon Descartes and Newton, Immanuel Kant — attempted to navigate between French rationalism and British empiricism. Kant framed time and space in a priori terms, arguing that they formed necessary conditions for the perception of reality but could not, by themselves, measure anything else Petersson Kant held that time and space could be rendered void of their contents, yet still retain their identity, upholding a Cartesian view amenable to the time-space compression of early modernity.

He thus enshrined Euclidean geometry as the architecture of the mind, a structure, like time, that made experience possible. However, he disavowed the Newtonian notion of absolute time and space because it did not allow room for how they are experienced by people, thus recasting the Leibnizian perspective by introducing the issue of perception. This argument shifted the focus from the world as it is in itself to the world as known by human beings, and problematized the question of sensory experience and its relations to reality.

Experience is the continual synthesis of Early modern time-space compression 55 perception, and time and space are thus products of the mind, tools it uses to render reality meaningful. This argument not only helped to secularize time and space, but lodged their genesis within the individual mind, thus constituting a critical moment in the ascendancy of bourgeois individualism. Similarly, philosophers such as Locke, in arguing that all knowledge originates with sensation, rejected long-standing notions of a priori human nature and repositioned the human subject as a product of historical circumstances.

The Renaissance rationalization of space was also manifested in the explosion of cartography, which, among other things, led to a renewed interest in Ptolemy, who, for all his errors, remained the chief classical authority to whom geographers turned in making sense of the newly unfolding world.

The Ptolemaic revival thus reveals how one geographical imagination selectively incorporates elements of another. With colonialism, the need to represent distant places—to make them present for those who were not there—rose exponentially. Indeed, Renaissance cartography was part of a much broader, thoroughgoing transformation in the spatial consciousness of the West. However, far from constituting a detached, objective viewpoint from nowhere, a view that reduces map-making to a technical process, cartography was a social process deeply wrapped up in the complex political dynamics of colonialism.

The grid formed by latitude and longitude was one of several such systems deployed worldwide to facilitate the exchange networks of incipient capitalism, making space smooth, fungible, and comprehensible by imposing order on an otherwise chaotic environment. The projection of Western power across the globe necessitated a Cartesian conceptualization of space as one that could be easily crossed, a function well performed by the cartographic graticule. Colonial mapping was thus not simply a tool for administration, but equally importantly, a validation of Enlightenment science and central part of the colonial spatial order: Thus, whereas previous geographical imaginations included boundaries between the known and unknown, Renaissance Europe managed to construct a perspective in which the entire planet fell under the Western purview.

By , pocket globes had accompanied pocket watches, and an essential knowledge of history and geography was deemed necessary for the educated elites of Europe. This secular notion of space began to undermine long-held religious ones: Latitude, at least in the northern hemisphere, could be easily reckoned using the altitude of the North Star above the horizon.

In other contexts, the declination of the sun could be used; tables for this purpose were available by the thirteenth century, and were widely published upon the invention of the printing press Landes Longitude at sea, however, where establishing identical times at two separate points was essentially impossible, was another issue altogether, and had vexed sailors for centuries.

On land, features could be used in the process of triangulation, a process impossible on the open ocean. Sailors long knew that the sun moved through one degree of longitude every four minutes, but establishing identical times at two separate points was intractable. Attempts to calculate longitude accurately therefore form one of the most famous examples in history of a deliberate conquest of space.

In solving the issue of how to measure longitude, he greatly facilitated the utilization of a universal coordinate system of global maps. However, if the graticule became the accepted conceptual norm underpinning global Cartesian space during the wave of European expansionism, its implementation was nonetheless open for debate. Similarly, Enlightenment geography rendered the world comprehensible by subjecting its diverse peoples and places to the conceptual lens of Western modernist rationality. Several other events paralleled and reinforced the Renaissance and Enlightenment rationalization of space.

The magnetic compass, for example, enabled sailors to calculate direction and distances without relying exclusively on astronomical observations. On land, surveying arose as a means of imposing the modernist vision of regularized, absolute space over emerging national territories.

What is TIME-SPACE COMPRESSION? What does TIME-SPACE COMPRESSION mean?

In each case, time and space—the measurement of which could not be separated—became abstracted from the natural environment, reframed under the totalizing discourses of Western colonialism as absolute, regularized, standardized, and predictable. A third European intellectual response to the early modern wave of timespace compression occurred within the visual arts, which underwent a profound transformation as bourgeois values became increasingly hegemonic Cosgrove Some aspects of perspective painting, like so much else in the Renaissance, may have been acquired from the Arabs, in this case Alhazen, a philosopher in Basra who wrote about the subject in Macey In , Leon Battista Alberti and fellow Florentine Toscanelli formulated the geometric rules of perspective that remained in place for the next years.

Notably, this process was not automatic, but conditional upon the people and places that Early modern time-space compression 59 created the early modern world. Perspective came to be a metaphor for the entire world of the Renaissance just as Florence came under the panopticonic gaze of the Medici aristocracy Edgerton Loy likens the adoption of perspectival painting as a means of locating space to the adoption of the Anno Domini convention in marking time: Renaissance painting also extended into early attempts to represent movement and change.

Similarly, Giovanni Battista della Porta invented the camera obscura, which was originally viewed as a mechanism to comprehend the external world provided by god; in the Enlightenment, the camera obscura would be reinterpreted as a model of objective visual truth. Later, the notion was elevated into a metaphor for vision by the Frankfurt School. Even at the most intimate level of the individual, the Renaissance reconstruction of space entered into the self-understanding of the individual as a sovereign subject.

Take, for example, the mirror: Indeed, for many in the rising bourgeoisie, the image in the mirror attained a greater sense of reality than did the interior self. The mirror moreover made possible self-portraits. Its ability to sustain and amplify Cartesian ocularcentrism is self-evident.

Thus, from the global scale to that of the individual, the notion of disembodied, abstract space known to an objective observer multiplied endlessly, reshaping every facet of the early modern world. Few innovations have allowed people to transcend space, to experience it in such a novel way, as printing. Of course, Europeans were acquainted with printed textiles, money, and playing cards long before they encountered printed books, and there was an important history of printing before Gutenberg.

Paper was imported into Europe by Arab merchants in Spain during the tenth century, who in turn acquired it from China in the eighth. From Spain, paper spread to Sicily and Italy in the eleventh, and to France in the twelfth Manchester This innovation was important to the generation of secular sites of knowledge production such as early universities, which arose by the thirteenth century, many of them linked to the emerging urban, literate, relatively secular bourgeoisie. Within a generation, printing houses were established in cities from London to Budapest.

The new communications environment of printing accelerated the decline of the feudal order, leading a new sense of time and space to displace the older, medieval one. Literacy and printing destabilized traditional society by bringing adults—especially males, for female literacy lagged far behind—within reach of texts. Printing helped to break the monopoly of learning held by monasteries and universities and fomented the growth of a lay intelligentsia. The spread of Humanism, for example, Early modern time-space compression 61 would have been impossible without printing.

In the age of the manuscript the power of a single classic author was deathless. The early Church actually encouraged printing as a means of disseminating the Bible before coming to oppose it due to the unintended consequences it unleashed: Understandably, therefore, printing was denounced by some of the clergy and politicians as a means to spread subversion and heresy.


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  • The power of printing to reproduce copies quickly and cheaply led many theologians to wonder whether the ancient hermeneutic debate over the one true meaning of the Bible could be settled at last. Instead, printing accentuated the rift within the Church. The Protestant Reformation called into question received religious authority and accelerated the historical shift from ecclesiastical to civil authority.

    Hence, places dominated by Protestantism, which encouraged a Bible in every house and direct, individual communication with god, saw literacy rates climb faster than did Catholic regions. Protestantism, with its greater emphasis on literacy, also initiated a break with the Catholic veneration of images. In Protestant lands, printing enhanced the textual authority of the Bible over the theological doctrines of the Pope. While the Catholic hierarchy held the Bible to be an allegorical document, Protestants such as Luther and Calvin argued it should be taken literally.

    This shift in consciousness was also important to the incipient nationalism then in the making: Printing in vernacular languages began to undermine the hegemony of Latin, establishing local tongues as the basis of emergent national identities and imagined communities and dooming the dream of a Christendom united under a single Latin tongue. Literacy soon spread from an idiosyncrasy of monks of an agrarian culture to a necessity in an urban, mercantile one, amplifying the economic and 62 Early modern time-space compression political transformations of the early modern era.

    Economically, for example, printing encouraged Europeans to adopt paper money, an innovation imported from China, which allowed this standardized abstraction of value to circulate rapidly on a wide scale. Politically, printing helped to erode the personal loyalties that were central to the decentralized feudal order, opening the possibility of increasingly centralized rule. For the disciplinary state, printed, standardized documents were essential: Widespread reading rather than writing was another powerful impact of the printing press.

    Anderson famously linked together the disparate social cultural, economic, ideological, and political processes associated with printing to argue that nationalism co-evolved with print capitalism and the growth of print-based culture once vernacular languages became the norm of printed communications.

    In his view, the advent of the printing press served to connect disparate populations over wide geographical areas. As the market for books in Latin became gradually saturated, vernacular languages became increasingly common and popular. Newly printed languages were thus fundamental to the emergence of nationalist imagined communities and, in forging together dialects into national languages, printing thus constituted a prime dimension in the time-space compression that created modern nation-states.

    Printing did more than simply accelerate the dissemination of knowledge, ideas, and information, it also reinforced the emerging ocularcentrism of early modernity. As Jay and Jenks noted, the rise of printing, the reliance on the written word for communication, and the use of the telescope and microscope to bring the distant and the invisibly small into view all contributed to the tendency to equate seeing with knowing. The printing of maps began to accustom Europeans to visual, grid-based representations of territorial order, helping to establish abstract space as the dominant model of the early modern period.

    Before writing was deeply interiorized by print, people did not feel themselves situated every moment of their lives in abstract computed time of any sort. It appears unlikely that most persons in medieval or even Renaissance western Europe would ordinarily have been aware of the number of the current calendar year—from the birth of Christ or any other point in the past. Why should they be? What would be the point for most people in knowing the current calendar year? By 64 Early modern time-space compression , an inexpensive daily press and popular readership had appeared throughout Europe and North America.

    Not surprisingly, advertising agencies formed around this expanding medium as early as the s. By the s, popular magazines as well as newspapers were circulating among the literate middle class. Max Weber noted long ago that the growth of capitalism was as much predicated on the legal systems and property rights enshrined in the state as it was in the role of private property and markets. To put it bluntly, as Smith In the process, the spatial scale of interaction, mobility, communications and class relations expanded decisively over broader territories using the stabilizing mechanism of the state.

    Tilly points out powerful governments in emerging nation-states destroyed or absorbed most of their feudal alternatives.

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    The international system legitimated by the Treaty of Westphalia in underscored the centrality of the nationstate to the early modern world system, a world of absolute spaces and explicit, non-overlapping boundaries. Such a geopolitical structure was unprecedented: Early modern time-space compression 65 The incipient modern state penetrated far more deeply into everyday life than did the feudal one.

    Foucault stressed that under the disciplinary logic of modernity, vision became supervision: What was discovered at that time was the idea of society. For example, the Italian city-states contributed enormously to the institutions that facilitated the rise of capitalism, including contracts, partnerships, insurance loans, and bills of exchange Mann Italian city-states also pioneered the use of impersonal salaried bureaucrats who served for limited terms.

    Many Italian citystates initiated the practice of land surveying and the rationalization of space that it entailed. Given that cities were loci of innovation, it is worth stressing that from its inception, capitalism was primarily urban in nature. Society in the sixteenth century stood at a watershed. Space and time were urbanized—in other words, the time and space of commodities and merchants gained the ascendancy, with their measures, accounts, contracts and contractors.

    Time—the time appropriate to the production of exchangeable goods, to their transport, delivery and sale, to payment and to the placing of capital—now served to measure space. But it was space which regulated time, because the movement of merchandise, of money and nascent capital, presupposed places of production, boats, and carts for transport, ports, storehouses, banks and money-brokers.

    It was now that the town recognized itself and found its image. Urbanization was also central to the discursive transformations of this period: Renaissance cities, for example, were remade under the totalizing discourses of modernity. Renaissance politicians and scholars held the classical era in high esteem: In this context, the Renaissance city was often envisioned as the reconstituted Greek polis. Renaissance portraits of towns, therefore, strove to overcome the limited view of the solitary observer in order to represent space from the disembodied perspective of a Cartesian cogito suspended above the world.

    National governments increasingly standardized measures of distance and weight: England did not possess a uniform coinage until , and France not until Mann Financial markets spiraled outward from individual states to become transnational at a remarkably early date: The emergence of regularized banking networks in the eighteenth century was Early modern time-space compression 67 vital to the formation of long-distance use of credit between buyers and sellers.

    Mass literacy, newspapers, and the ideology of nationalism contributed to the homogenization of culture that turned feudal societies into nation-states. To this list Giddens also adds the emergence of bodies of knowledge concerned with human organization and change: Also central to the rise of the nation-state was the growth in military power McNeill , including the draft and permanent, standing armies of paid infantry, which socialized young men from disparate villages into a shared national culture. Ideologically, the nation-state entailed discourses of nationalism and sovereignty, which displaced feudal notions of the divine right of kings Anderson Typically, this maneuver was accomplished through the mobilization of ethnicity, which can itself be seen a production of early modernity; indeed, nationalism and ethnicity are reciprocal constructs, and both are highly geographical.

    The rise of ethnicity to a position of prominence within Europe was also closely linked to the growth of Orientalist discourses that legitimated Western expansion abroad. The formation of nation-states was therefore far more than simply an expression of the shifting geographies of power, but of deeper notions of spatiality. This homogenization was perfectly in keeping with the Cartesian view of space: As Horsman and Marshall While nationalism inevitably exhibits a spatial imperative, in the form of a territory for a nation to inhabit, the imagined community of nationhood also has a temporal dimension.

    The time-space compression of early modern nationalism involved the naturalization of some interpretations of history at the expense of others. Nationalists typically selectively drew upon the most useful stories among large sets of competing narratives concerning the past, often mythologizing it in the form of resurrecting periods of past glory. In the process, national traditions were invented rather than discovered, fabricated rather than found.

    If the past is a foreign country, as Lowenthal famously suggested, then our views of the past are necessarily embedded in and designed to serve our understandings of the present. Standardizing space and time in the early modern nation-state The formation of early modern capitalist economies as well as the political project of the nation-state necessarily entailed a far-reaching transformation in its internal constitution. Spatially, this project attempted diligently to Early modern time-space compression 69 make the messy feudal geographies resemble the idealized Cartesian spaces of modernity by revolutionizing circulation space and the means of transportation.

    As it had for eons, water transport was still largely preferably to land: Regions in which roads were nonexistent or poorly developed, such as Russia, relied extensively on river navigation, and places without access to rivers were marginalized in the extreme. Even access to the roads, such as they were, did little to ensure regular deliveries of goods: Such conditions inhibited the circulation of goods, capital, and information, and presented intolerable conditions to the newly ascendant bourgeoisie.

    Mercantilist state policies, which protected producers from foreign competition, simultaneously sought the freest possible internal circulation. The growth of canal systems attempted to recreate the marine transport environment on land. Canals lowered the transport costs of bulky goods, initiating a cost-space compression that was central to the early development of many nation-states. The British canals, built by private interests in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, similarly played a pivotal role in integrating local regions into a national space that made them indispensable to the Industrial Revolution Figure 3.

    In each case, canals helped to undermine local monopolies, facilitate regional specialization, reduce transport costs, and 70 Early modern time-space compression Figure 3. Canal-builders were in some respects trail-blazers for the railroads, perfecting the techniques for drilling tunnels and building embankments. Another expression of the rationalization of national space was a dramatic reworking of the road system. Horse-drawn carriages became increasingly Early modern time-space compression 71 popular in the sixteenth century, when merchants used them in large numbers, and persisted as the primary means of transportation for the elite until the nineteenth.

    However, land transportation prior to the Industrial Revolution rarely operated at more than 10 miles per hour, a pace essentially unchanged for two millennia. The needs of the early capitalist economy for a serviceable circulation space were certainly not met by the deplorable road system of seventeenth-century England.

    In , for example, Charles I took four days to ride miles. Under the numerous Turnpike Acts, British roads became increasingly well drained and surfaced, reducing the journey times among towns. In Britain, toll roads or turnpikes were covered by a thicket of private haulage or coach services, which served the rapidly growing urban system, competing as much in speed as in price. For example, along the Edinburgh— London route, transport speeds rose from 6 miles per hour during the s to 12 or more in the s.

    Thus, from London to Bristol took 48 hours in ; 30 years later, it took only 16 hours Landes As road networks expanded throughout eighteenth-century Europe, the associated accessibility surfaces became distinctly urban in nature Figure 3. Modern postal systems, with their ability to bind people in distant locations together, are a product of the letter-happy Renaissance and Enlightenment.

    The widespread use of paper transformed the postal service into an integral part of state-provided services, which were originally designed to preserve state security. In , Louis XI, inspired by the Roman post which was in turn modeled after that of Cyrus the Great in Persia in bc , established a network throughout France. England followed suit in Early modern time-space compression 73 Dohrn-Van Rossum Delivery times from Brussels to Paris were 3 days in the summer 4 in the winter ; to Granada, 15 summer days or 18 winter ones; and to Rome, 10 summer days or 12 winter ones.

    In England, prior to , mail was carried by mounted post riders, who were eventually displaced by mail coaches. Coach services began between Bath and London, and before long the country was serviced by numerous mail coaches running on strict timetables. Their speeds averaged about 10 miles 16 km per hour, and were safe and reliable: Jane Austen could write of young ladies traveling safely by coach unaccompanied.

    Immediately thereafter, the volume of mail in Britain leapt from 76 million to million pieces annually. By , the U. Various other national postal systems soon arose, along with postal laws and regulations, prescribed speeds for riders, and a mounting desire for punctuality. As national systems became standardized, the need to expedite international mail rose accordingly; thus, the universal Postal Union was created in in Bern under the Universal Postal Convention of The British network necessitated the adoption of a uniform time system across the country, which, naturally, would be that of London, over the objections of countryfolk.

    In towns and villages, the posthorn sounded the arrival of the mail coach and became a symbol of punctuality. Soon foreigners observed the English mania for saving time. In addition to the rationalization of space, early modernity also saw the homogenization of calendar time. For this reason, the Julian calendar gradually fell out of synch with the solar year. The Gregorian reform was immediately adopted by Catholic countries, but was strongly resisted by Protestant ones.

    In China, the Gregorian calendar was introduced in , following the nationalist revolution, although the older, traditional one is still used for religious observances. Not until did the Orthodox Church in Greece, Romania, and elsewhere adopt it. In Russia, the Julian calendar remained in place until the Bolshevik Revolution, and the Gregorian was not implemented until In Turkey, modernizer Kemal Ataturk abandoned the Muslim lunar calendar in the s and adopted the Gregorian solar one.

    In North America, there was little intercourse among the various British colonies prior to the Revolution of — Many of these were instrumental in opening the trans-Appalachian West to increased agricultural exports. By lowering transport costs, these canals generated a steady costspace convergence: Canals were supplemented by a system of turnpikes built primarily by private interests, culminating in the National Turnpike or National Road, which collectively reduced transport costs over land by as much as 50 percent. Prior to , Baroque culture, with its celebration of ornate form, constituted something of a counter-Reformation response to the Protestant emphasis on literacy.

    This political restructuring was complemented by a widespread rationalization of transportation space. Indeed, even prior to the Revolution of , France emerged as a model of centralized transportation planning. The new infrastructure made Paris, already the core of French national space, even more accessible to the rest of the country, enhancing its centrality and primacy.

    By , the system had 47, kilometers, and transport speeds rose from 10 kilometers per hour in to 15 in Vance The new transportation system was complemented by a nationwide system of optical telescopes and towers, or semaphores, arranged by line-of-sight operation Standage ; Hugill Although Napoleon suspended its use, it was reinstated in Pride of the French Revolution, the system spread rapidly throughout Europe, particularly following the Convention of the Meter signed by 17 countries, including the U. It was received with enthusiasm by communities of scientists and 76 Early modern time-space compression engineers, and to a lesser extent, commercial businesses, despite occasional resistance that pointed to its suspicious French origins.

    In time as well as space, revolutionary France proposed dramatic changes. Weeks had ten days rather than seven, which entailed nine consecutive days of labor which was one of the reasons for its downfall. The revolutionary calendar, however, was short-lived: Early modern time-space compression in perspective The early modern period centered on the rise to hegemony of capitalism on a global basis and, accordingly, the formation of a worldwide market dominated by Europeans for Europeans. Colonial empires, stitched together by maritime routes, formed a very visible political hand that assisted and sustained the invisible hand of the market and commodity production.

    Early modern global expansion was overwhelmingly maritime in nature, and was manifested in the coastal littorals that played key roles in the formation of overseas colonies. In the wake of the collapse of these feudal horizons, new forms of identity sprang up. The time-space compression of colonial modernity therefore was accompanied by a widespread discursive repositioning of Europe as the motor of history and non-Europe as its passive objects, a view that continues perniciously today Blaut Central to this project was the rise of ocularcentrism, the privileging of the visual and its implicit equation with objectivity, as manifested in the rise of the Cartesian cogito and the corresponding reduction of space to surfaces.

    Cartography and the graticule of latitude, and later, longitude, were vital parts of the emerging modernist imaginary, the formation of a comprehensive grid into which various locales could be placed and thus rendered sensible. So too was the rise of perspectival art, which bolstered the ocularcentrism of the age. And just as space was subjected to the disciplinary gaze of rationality, so also did time become steadily linearized, an undertaking initiated by Christianity but now rendered in secular terms.

    Several forces contributed to the rise of bourgeois secularism and its manifestation as individualist ideology. As various languages fell before the homogenizing power of the printing press, language and nationalism became steadily fused. The spaces of nationality were further integrated by various canals, roads, stagecoaches, and postal systems. Far from the market, therefore, it was the state that played the lead role in this scalar transformation. Finally, this process saw the gradual universalization of the Gregorian calendar as the triumph of modernity imposed its time-keeping system upon the plethora of cultures that lay vanquished at its feet.

    Local cultures of time persisted, as evidenced by the multiple regional practices in colonial America. However, Enlightenment rationality of space and time, made most explicit by the metric system, eventually came to envelop most other representations of these dimensions, just as Europe had itself come to envelop most of the world in the tentacles of colonial empire. For example, one hallmark of late modernity was the rise of regular, predictable, and mechanized forms of mass movement Cresswell ; since the Industrial Revolution began, global per capita mobility levels in the economically advanced countries and many developing ones have increased roughly 3.

    Such changes in how people moved were inevitably accompanied by changes in how they thought and experienced the world. Spatially, mass industrialization and urbanization from the late eighteenth century onwards sank enormous amounts of capital into the built environment in the forms of roads, canals, railroads, water systems, electrical networks, and communications lines, much of which was concentrated in dense urban pools of capital and labor rather than dispersed agrarian locations.

    The factory system itself represented a centralized and standardized form of time-space compression, gathering together dozens, then hundreds of workers under one roof, forging a proletariat through the common experience of exploitation and locking together mines, agriculture, transport system, and cities into a symbiotic network. Such material and ontological changes were inevitably accompanied by ideological ones, including rising secularism, new forms of historical consciousness, and a generalized acceptance of the increased rapidity of social and cultural change.

    The subsequent rise of steamships and railroads played central roles in reducing the turnover time of industrial capital and giving birth to radically new geographies of economic life. From the factory system of the textile industry to the massive waves of urbanization that industrialization unleashed, the Industrial Revolution comprised one vast wave of compression that altered the nature of time and space at the global, local, and individual scales. Another important step in this process was the invention of iron puddling by Henry Cort, which converted pig iron to wrought iron using coal, a process that freed the industry from its dependence on the forest and ushered in a new Iron Age McClellan and Dorn Bridge-building, for example, was revolutionized by cast-iron arch bridges, wrought-iron suspension bridges, and tubular bridges.

    The need for new networks arose because the previous transportation system, designed to move large quantities of lowcost materials between many points, had become obsolete in the face of the industrial restructuring of production, which concentrated production within a handful of urban centers. And indeed they did. But the price of making constant change appear routine was to obliterate the very worlds that made countless millions feel happy, safe, and secure.

    In accelerating the pace of technological and social change exponentially, 80 Late modern time-space compression industrialization fostered the growth of late modern life and modern culture. Modernization entailed transformations ranging from class struggle, demographic upheaval, and technological innovation to new systems of urban growth, state bureaucracies, mass communication, and the world economy, all of which bound diverse peoples around the globe together in powerful, complex ways.

    In this world, stability equals entropy and decay: The very power of capitalism as an economic and social force stems from its ceaseless pursuit of the new and the concomitant destruction of the old. By the late eighteenth century, the enclosure movement steadily ensured that rural labor had few choices but to work in the cities, where they became subjected to the time discipline of mercantile capitalism.

    With the incorporation of workers into factories, a distinctively new work ethos emerged: In raising productivity, industrialization axiomatically increased the value of time, so that the opportunity costs of absenteeism greatly exceeded what they used to be. They had learned their lesson, that time is money, only too well. This transformation indicates that the imposition of a new time consciousness was not a simple matter of progress, but one of domination and resistance. With a public and transparent means of ordering time readily available, many workers began to demand overtime.

    Industrial time was therefore not simply given, but produced and struggled over, and formed an important part of the working-class struggles that erupted in periodic waves of disruption, most notably in the revolutions of Urbanization, factories, and the disciplinary power of the industrial workplace conspired to inculcate in many social groups an ever-deeper sensitivity to and appreciation of clock time and its role in regulating the rhythms of everyday life. For Max Weber, the Protestant process of rationalization included the ethical impulse to budget time, save time, and treat time as money.

    Widespread adoption of this device, however, did not occur until World War I, when soldiers adopted military-issued wristwatches, which had previously been considered unmanly. Self-winding watches appeared in the s, and by mid-century wristwatches were the smallest machines on the planet. The popularization of mass-produced watches and clocks accentuated the tendency for the habits of everyday life to be regulated chronometrically.

    Observers of the period note the ever-increasing tendency of subjects to monitor themselves, and one another, on the basis of clock time. Every self-respecting citizen in Europe and North America was expected to know the time, and punctuality came to be equated with achievement, success, and politeness. For many people, simply knowing the time served as an accelerant in daily life, and introduced a novel concept, time-saving, a cultural response to the pressures of increasingly rapid rhythms of work, consumption, and life. Henry David Thoreau Writing in , George Beard, in American Nervousness, blamed the new innovation for giving rise to a culture in which even small delays produced undue psychic strain, necessitating a host of timesaving devices, and introduced the diagnosis of neurasthenia into psychology: Step by step, modernity created a culture so future-oriented that many busy people, rushing to conform to the accelerated pace of life under industrial capitalism, simply forgot to live in the present.

    The British Empire was the largest and most formidable of all colonial formations. One element contributing to the British colonial project lay in their ability to lower the friction of distance through larger, quicker, iron-clad ships Harley In , for example, the average ship sailing between England and the Chesapeake Bay spent days at port, which by had fallen by a half.

    The reduction in piracy and introduction of warehouses generated a cost-space convergence in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that dramatically accelerated trade, lowered costs and prices, and raised standards of living even before the introduction of steam power. The Industrial Revolution itself was intimately tied to the colonial waves of expansion in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

    By the mid-eighteenth century, after succumbing to the tsunami of British textile imports and quotas against Indian exports , India was steadily deindustrialized to become the immiserated country that it is today. This economic transformation was accompanied by the British geographing of India on behalf of the East India Company, which serves as an excellent example of European attempts to rationalize space throughout various parts of the world Edney Starting in , the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India lasted for half a century.

    In addition to facilitating British administrative control, the survey provided a discursive framework for integrating the entire subcontinent: Colonialism in North America witnessed multiple, profound transformations in space and time. The initial topologies of access in the New World were complex and confusing. In colonial America, the considerably lower expenses involved in transporting goods by water versus land produced startling relational geographies of cost: Compounding this pattern was the confusing system of metes and bounds to measure property, inherited from England, which became increasingly out of date as the need to standardize and commodify the new environment became ever more pronounced.

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