Naturally Late


Is time a natural reality that social symbols such as clocks and calendars merely contingently represent? Lateness protocols seemingly exhibit such contingency, for not all cultures regulate synchronization identically. Just as social/cultural time structures are interpreted to diverge from time’s natural rhythm, body modifications are often presented as social productions that divert human bodies from their naturally originated, corporeal temporality. A similar separation informs climate change discourses, supposing a natural rhythm that industrialized culture has invaded, the effects of which humans might be too late to arrest.

Interrogating this conceptual separation matters, given that if certain times are considered to be more natural than others, a situated politics emerges regarding the associated cultural structures. Furthermore, our personal investments in experiences of lateness, which are embedded within socialized time, seemingly contradict the constructionist impression that socialized time is merely a contingent misrepresentation of what time actually is. This book re-evaluates the timing of natural and socialized times from a philosophical perspective. Theory engaged includes Émile Durkheim, Pierre Bourdieu, George Herbert Mead, Jacques Derrida, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Henri Bergson, sociological and anthropological studies in the Caribbean, the Philippines, and northern Africa, as well as voices from object-oriented ontology, new materialism, and new criticism.

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Naturally Late is a fascinating and important book. Johncock interweaves the themes of temporality and embodiment in a highly original way that affords a very fresh and illuminating perspective upon both. The book is well-written, engaging and makes a very welcome contribution to contemporary debates.
— Nick Crossley, Professor, Sociology and Mitchell Centre for Social Network Analysis, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester

Out of time, up against it, pressed for it or ahead of it – the punctuations of social and cross-cultural timings can be as different as they are compelling. But can these differences be reconciled with the impassive rhythms of natural time, materiality and the body? Johncock deftly explores this question with a philosophical sophistication that never discounts lived experience.
— Vicki Kirby, Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, University of New South Wales