Discard Studies going dark, being reborn in mid-2018

Dear Discard Studies Readers, I have been posting on this blog every week for the past seven years. It has been a pleasure. I began as a PhD student under Robin Nagle, who founded this blog in 2010, and am now in my third year as an assistant professor. The blog began with a model […]
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Article Alert! New texts in discard studies (Nov & Dec 2017)

Since critical discard studies doesn’t (yet!) have its own journal, conference, or department, Discard Studies publishes a regular table of contents alerts for articles, reports, and books in the field. If you are interested in becoming an editor for non-English article alerts on Discard Studies, or know of a recent article for the next article […]
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Opportunities in Discard Studies (Dec 2017)

  Call for papers: JEP 2019-1 Waste and globalised inequalities Special Issue Editor: Nicolas Schlitz, Stefan Laser Global capitalism and its transnational production networks have grown and changed drastically during the last three decades. This was coupled with an exponential growth, also of waste. The resultant ‘waste problem’ involved various types of waste, found different […]
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Consider the Vulture: An Ethical Approach to Roadkill

After riding along with Bill that day, I started wondering about the morality of turning dead deer into “zoological garbage.”[3] If how we treat the dead influences how we treat the living, then the most obvious question is whether this is a respectful way to treat the dead.

A Bibliography on Demolition Waste and Deconstruction

By Susan Ross Construction, renovation, and demolition (CR&D) waste can represent from 30 to 50% of municipal solid waste (Yeheyis et al, 2013). Yet this area of discard studies seems chronically understudied. Susan Ross, Assistant Professor at Carleton University, Canada, provides an extended bibliography on the topic, with a focus on one aspect of demolition […]
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Keyword: Deconstruction Waste (Building)

By Susan Ross Building deconstruction refers to the careful taking apart of a building to salvage its reusable materials and components. These are either stored on site for short-term integration in a new design, or removed to a salvage yard for use at a later date. Whereas prevailing mechanical demolition creates mounds of unsorted debris […]
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These chemicals are bad for babies and whales: Why haven’t they been banned in Canada?

Canadian regulators are all over the map with respect to flame retardants. On PBDEs, Canada infamously refused to take meaningful regulatory action. The government found most PBDEs to be toxic substances in 2006, but it declined to ban or restrict them in consumer products in 2008 or in 2016.

Resources for Observing and Understanding America Recycles Day

Wednesday is America Recycles Day. It’s a day that reveals the complex history of industry, consumer, and social attitudes towards the environment.

Moving the Circular Economy Beyond Alchemy

This review of a special issue of the Journal of Industrial Ecology titled, “Exploring the Circular Economy” is a virtual tour of circular economy definitions and current directions. The authors discuss and derive new definitions of “circularity.” They cover fundamental determinants of material lifespan, such as economic demand, thermodynamics, product design, and durability.

Urban noise pollution is worst in poor and minority neighborhoods and segregated cities

Neighborhoods with median annual incomes below US$25,000 were nearly 2 decibels louder than neighborhoods with incomes above $100,000 per year. And nationwide, communities with 75 percent black residents had median nighttime noise levels of 46.3 decibels – 4 decibels louder than communities with no black residents. A 10-decibel increase represents a doubling in loudness of a sound, so these are big differences.

Article Alert! New Texts in Discard Studies (October 2017)

Since critical discard studies doesn’t (yet!) have its own journal, conference, or department, Discard Studies publishes a regular table of contents alerts for articles, reports, and books in the field. If you are interested in becoming an editor for non-English article alerts on Discard Studies, or know of a recent article for the next article […]
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Examining Waste as an Economic Externality

In an economic sense, it is usually municipal and state governments that account for the cost of damage waste causes to local environments when deciding how to deal with waste, but this cost is not already part of the price of goods or services that produce waste. Economists define this problem as a negative externality.

In space, this is the age of reusability

It might seem that the obvious solution is to reuse rockets. The idea of Reusable Launch Vehicles (RLVs) isn’t new, but reusing rockets has proven tricky in the past.

Benzene, PCBs, and industrial chemistry: A narrative bibliography

How the Benzene Tree Polluted the World in The Atlantic by Rebecca Altman, is a narrative exploration of the rise of organic chemistry, and the industrialization of the branch of chemistry based on the benzene ring. The piece focuses on the geopolitical forces shaping the production and global distribution of PCBs, a class of industrial chemicals that, though […]
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CFP: Pervasive Powers: Corporate Authority in the Shaping of Public Policy (Paris)

This conference is based on the idea that, not only has this power varied among industries, countries and different periods, but also that the way in which it is wielded has evolved over time.

How subversive artists made thrift shopping cool

Over the past 100 years, visual artists probably deserve the most credit for thrift shopping’s place in the cultural milieu.

Doctoral researcher in “Plastics – Publics – Politics” (Munich)

The Professorship of Science & Technology Policy (Prof. Dr. Ruth Müller), based at the Munich Center for Technology in Society (MCTS) and affiliated with the School of Life Sciences, Technical University of Munich, announces an *open position for a doctoral researcher in Science & Technology Studies (STS) *(TV-L E13, 65%, 3 years, fixed term) as […]
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New Texts in Discard Studies (September 2017)

Since critical discard studies doesn’t (yet!) have its own journal, conference, or department, Discard Studies publishes a regular table of contents alerts for articles, reports, and books in the field. If you are interested in becoming an editor for non-English article alerts on Discard Studies, or know of a recent article for the next article […]
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For a true war on waste, the fashion industry must spend more on research

These are admirable initiatives, but they only reduce wastage or delay garments from ending up in landfill. They do not address the fact that the scale of fast fashion is so massive it can easily eclipse other sustainability initiatives.

CFP: Organizing and Managing Waste (Dec 1)

Special issue call for papers from Society and Business Review Organizing and Managing Waste Deadline December 1st, 2017 Waste is not only a global environmental issue. It is also an extended nexus of material, energy, and symbolic flows that characterize contemporary patterns of production, distribution, and consumption. Beyond disposal and recycling, waste management includes prevention activities […]
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Virtual Waste: Flowing from a data center near you

Thinking with virtual data demonstrates that reduction of material waste alone does not mean a reduction of an overall environmental footprint on this planet.

CFP: Nuclear Waste and Deep Time (Amsterdam)

Nuclear Waste and Deep Time Friday 3 November 2017, 16:00-17:00hrs                                                                                          Deadline for submissions:  November 1, 2017 This workshop comes as part of the Nuclear Waste Weeks at the Enviromental Humanities Center at the VU, Amsterdam and aims to bring together PhD students from various disciplines that share a common intereset in nuclear waste and/or […]
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Toxins or Toxicants? Why the difference matters

When we accidentally call toxicants “toxins,” we are also accidentally naturalizing industrially-produced chemicals and their politics.

CFP: Muddied Waters: Decomposing the Anthropocene

For its seventh issue, Pivot is calling for papers that not only critically address the Anthropocene as our current geological epoch but, in doing so, attend to pertinent questions concerning the social, political, theoretical, and ecological efficacy of ecocriticism as a framework counter-to the imperatives of both anthropocentrism and global capitalism.

Pollution is Colonialism

Colonialism in Canada is an ongoing structure whereby settler society and government assert sovereignty over lands already occupied by Indigenous peoples.

New articles in Discard Studies (July/August)

Since critical discard studies doesn’t (yet!) have its own journal, conference, or department, Discard Studies publishes a regular table of contents alerts for articles, reports, and books in the field. If you are interested in becoming an editor for non-English article alerts on Discard Studies, or know of a recent article for the next article […]
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CFP: Ethnographic Practices and the Temporality of Evidence (CAS 2018, Cuba)

Call for Papers Ethnographic Practices and the Temporality of Evidence CASCA-CUBA: Canadian Anthropology Society Annual Meeting 16-20 May, 2018 Universidad de Oriente – Santiago de Cuba, Cuba Panel Organizer: Maxime Polleri, York University  Following the ongoing concerns surrounding questions of scientific knowledge and the role of anthropology in accessing, rationalizing, and circulating data, (Kirksey 2009; Fortun […]
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Students for Zero Waste Conference, 2017 (Philadelphia)

Join The Post-Landfill Action Network at the Students for Zero Waste Conference on November 3rd-4th, 2017, in Philadelphia, PA!

How we discovered pollution-poisoned crustaceans in the Mariana Trench

A trench amphipod, Hirondellea gigas, from the deepest place on Earth: Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench (10,890m). Alan Jamieson, Newcastle University, Author provided Alan Jamieson, Newcastle University Even animals from the deepest places on Earth have accumulated pollutants made by humans. That’s the unfortunate finding of a new study by myself with colleagues from […]
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CfP: Hazardous Time-Scapes: How to Make Sense of Toxic Landscapes from Multiple Timed, Spaced, and Embodied Perspectives?

The workshop Hazardous Time-Scapes seeks to understand human-environment relationships through the lens of multiple overlapping time, space, and body regimes as they have (and continue to) play out in toxic landscapes.

Your city could be exporting deadly air pollution – here’s why

Goods and services produced in one region for use by another region are responsible for 22% (762,400) of air pollution-related deaths worldwide.

Cleaning up toxic sites shouldn’t clear out the neighbors

Notions of “sustainability” and “urban greening” ought to include values of justice and equity. Otherwise, important projects like the Blue Greenway will build sustainable waterfronts for the urban elite, rather than spreading the environmental benefits of toxic cleanup to the many.

CPF: Shifting Baselines, Altered Horizons: Politics, Practice, and Knowledge in Environmental Science and Policy

Workshop – Call for Papers  Shifting Baselines, Altered Horizons: Politics, Practice, and Knowledge in Environmental Science and Policy  Max Planck Institute for the History of Science  (MPIWG) Berlin, Germany – 21-22 June 2018 Convenors: Wilko Graf von Hardenberg (MPIWG, Germany), Thomas Lekan, (University of South Carolina, USA), Sebastián Ureta, (Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile)   Description […]
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We can’t recycle our way to ‘zero waste’

Why is recycling low on the waste hierarchy?

Pristine paradise to rubbish dump: the same Pacific island, 23 years apart

Remember, this is not waste that was dumped directly by human hands. It was washed here on ocean currents, meaning that this is not just about one beach – it shows how much the pollution problem has grown in the entire ocean system in little more than two decades.

Bibliography on critical approaches to toxics and toxicity

Toxicity, toxins, and toxicants are areas of critical concern because controversies over what they mean, how they act, how they come into being and where, and what counts as evidence have high stake ramifications. These texts offer critical insights into these processes:

Article Alert! New texts in discard studies (May & June 2017)

Since critical discard studies doesn’t (yet!) have its own journal, conference, or department, Discard Studies publishes a regular table of contents alerts for articles, reports, and books in the field. If you are interested in becoming an editor for non-English article alerts on Discard Studies, or know of a recent article for the next article alert, please […]
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Not afraid of the ruins: Call for submissions for science fiction and utopian imaginaries

The goal of this new section will be to regularly showcase new, original, creative and critical reflections to foster intimate and productive conversations across the intellectual and creative arts.

Community Responses to Toxic Hazards: A Reading List

A reading list of the David and Goliath story of communities versus industries, governments, and polluting infrastructures.

Four salaried PhD positions in Oslo on toxicology and global waste

AnthroTox focuses initially on electronic waste and associated persistent organic pollutants in Tanzania, East Africa. Applications are invited for four Research Fellowship as PhD Candidate in Social Anthropology to be based at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo.

On (not) seeing artificial light at night: Light pollution or lighting poverty?

By Dr. Sara B. Pritchard Department of Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University So it began. This was the image that sparked my interest in light pollution and light-pollution science (Figure 1). The National Aeronautics and Space Administration released new images of Earth at night, including this one, on December 5, 2012, at the annual meeting […]
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Recycling Reconsidered: A must-read text for discard studies

If I could only recommend one text in discard studies, it would be Recycling Reconsidered by Samantha MacBride (2011, MIT Press).

“Viewed as a concept by some, a framework by others, the CE is an alternative to a traditional take-make-dispose linear economy. A CE aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. The value is maintained or extracted though extension of product lifetimes by reuse, refurbishment, and remanufacturing as well as closing of resource cycles—through recycling and related strategies.”

Powerful supermarkets push the cost of food waste onto suppliers, charities

Our research into the issue of corporate social responsibility and wastage of fresh fruit and vegetables has identified a number of tensions and contradictions, despite leading Australian supermarkets’ zero food waste targets.

Special Issue Alert! Geosocial Formations and the Anthropocene in Theory, Culture & Society

This special issue attempts to open up the categories of social thought to a deeper understanding of earth processes.

CFP: Suspensions: Atmospherics of the Anthropocene (deadline May 26)

This panel aims at expanding the theoretical scope on the Anthropocene by
attuning to air, breathe, volatility, atmospheres and suspension as modes of
attending to the more-than-solid ecologies of the Anthropocene. We ask: what
temporalities, phenomenologies, embodiments, and politics does the
Anthropocene invoke when thought in aerial, eolic, respiratory or
atmospheric terms?

Community repair: a pop-up alternative to the throwaway society

Consumers, fed up with having to throw away broken phones, toasters and other appliances, are instead meeting to learn how to repair them and to extend the lifetime of their products. These repair “pop-up parties”, where like-minded people can improve or learn new skills in a supportive environment, can prevent still-useful products from ending up in the bin, while saving money.

Putting Dirt in its Place: The Contemporary Politics of Waste (Conference in Cambridge, UK. June 2017)

This conference explores the socio-material interfaces where waste meets politics in the present. 2 June 2017 – 3 June 2017, Cambridge, UK.

Call for participation: Enacting Environmental Data Justice

Held on Tuesday, August 29, this event will explore possibilities for data justice through a framework of environmental justice.

Repair and Software: Updates, Obsolescence, and Mobile Culture’s Operating Systems

What is the role of software in planned obsolescence and waste? It may play a greater role than hardware…

Announcements and Calls for Participation in Discard Studies (Nov 2017)

A collection of Discard Studies news items, calls for papers, positions,  grants and awards. CFP: Special Issue on the Contested realities of the Circular Economy Deadline: November 15th 2018 This special issue of Culture and Organization invites contributions that question the Circular Economy in innovative ways. This special issue aims at bringing together critical, interpretive and theory-driven papers […]
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