Perhaps an Other Time

An Interdisciplinary (Re)Consideration of Historical Anthropology in View of the Cognitive Science of Time, Cultural Models Theory, and the Stems and Branches Chinese Calendrical System


  • Julia McClenon US Naval Postgraduate School



Cognitive anthropology, behavioral anthropology, religion and cognition, calendars, time, temporality, cognitive alterability


In this article it is argued that conceptions of time have important cognitive and behavioural effects on historical agents, and that in ancient China at least one such conception tied fundamentally with the traditional Chinese calendar, the Stems and Branches system, is significantly different than the worldwide dominant modern conception of time in ways that deserve wider acknowledgement and exploration. The article relies on cognitive science literature, Takayama’s method of uncovering ancient cognition, and Bradd Shore’s Cultural Models Theory, to make its case. By examining the underlying qualitative and calculative structures of the calendar(s) in use by the humans we study, we can begin to see just how potentially different these views of time were and are in ways so fundamental to being in the world as to warrant new (re)considerations of historical actors cognizing about in and about their respective conceptual frameworks of time and the behaviours they engage in as a consequence.

Author Biography

Julia McClenon, US Naval Postgraduate School

Julia McClenon is a Faculty Associate in the Defense Analysis Department at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. An interdisciplinary anthropologist, Julia primarily uses ethnographic and sociolinguistic methods to research the interaction between cognition, culture, language, and human behaviour. She pays particular attention to cognitive cultural models that fundamentally orient humans to their worlds, individually and socially. Julia has a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from the University of California Santa Barbara, where she was awarded Regents and Rowny fellowships. She was previously commissioned as a Foreign Service Officer with the diplomatic service of the U.S. Department of State.

Julia McClenon’s statements and opinions expressed or implied are her own and do not in any way represent the opinions or positions of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School or the Department of Defense.


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How to Cite

McClenon, J. (2022). Perhaps an Other Time: An Interdisciplinary (Re)Consideration of Historical Anthropology in View of the Cognitive Science of Time, Cultural Models Theory, and the Stems and Branches Chinese Calendrical System. Journal of Cognitive Historiography, 7(1-2), 42–65.