The future, what’s that?

Cultural Insights — By on May 11, 2006 at 1:54 pm

Very interesting story in this morning’s news about a Stone Age-like tribe of hunter-gatherers that left the jungle behind and wandered into a Colombian city.  The article is interesting for its descriptions of the indigenous Nukak tribe’s collision with the modern world, but my favorite quote was the one that pointed out a very different conception of time.

When asked if the Nukak were concerned about the future, Belisario, the only one in the group who had been to the outside world before and spoke Spanish, seemed perplexed, less by the word than by the concept. “The future,” he said, “what’s that?” 

Indeed, there are a number of ways that different cultures see and experience time.  If you’re interested in more in-depth accounts of this, two interesting books are Edward Hall’s The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time and Robert Levine’s A Geography of Time.

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