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|Title:||THE CONSTRUCTION OF MODERN TIMEKEEPING IN THE ANGLO-AMERICAN WORLD, 1876-1913|
|Keywords:||History of Science;Timekeeping;Standard Time;Time Zones;Transnational History;Canada;Britain;United States;Astronomy;International Relations;Diplomacy;Nineteenth Century|
|Abstract:||This dissertation asks why the system of time measurement set up towards the end of the nineteenth century took the form that it did. The answer is partially dependant on the advent of new technologies such as railways, steamships, and telegraphs. However, instead of focusing on a teleological story of technological progress, this dissertation derives its answer by examining the social, political, and cultural context of the individuals involved. The dissertation uses the 1884 International Meridian Conference as a case study to suggest that time reform was driven by professional context more than by technological imperatives or national interest. Astronomers and engineers came to the conference with very different visions for modern timekeeping. Using a constructivist lens, this dissertation examines the decision-laden process by which temporal knowledge was constructed. Questions about the very nature of accurate time was at the heart of the debate: was time a public good, a commodity, or a specialized tool? The answers to these questions depended heavily on one’s profession, and as a result the conference, directed by astronomers who preferred time as a specialized tool, rejected standard time as a broad reformation of civil timekeeping for the public. The process of construction continued after the conference as well, as the universality of standard time became wrapped up with the heightened accuracy required by specialized astronomical time. Entrepreneurs latched on to this, selling accurate time as a desirable symbol of modernity, while at the same time large numbers of people continued to use older timekeeping methods that were more convenient. New timekeeping methods did not sweep aside the old, leaving timekeeping a more complex, rather than a simplified, process. The standard time system which emerged from this complexity was far from inevitable, and in fact remained largely incomplete.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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