CFP: Socialities of Waste: Producing Vibrant Life, Matter, and Value in “Free” Spaces

American Anthropological Association
December 3-7, 2014
Marriott Wardman Park & Omni Shoreham
Washington, DC
CFP: Socialities of Waste: Producing Vibrant Life, Matter, and Value in “Free” Spaces

“Life occupies all the available space.”

—Georges Bataille, The Accursed Shared, Volume I

While specific social, political, and economic orders value space and life differentially, lionizing some lives and spaces and dismissing others, Bataille’s work  suggests that life itself could not but multiply and expand into the abandoned space, taking on novel forms in the process. This panel poses the following questions: What new sorts of life, value, and politics are enabled in these exceptional spaces? As the excesses, effluents, and excreta of larger social spheres are discounted, discarded, and denigrated, what happens at those margins where they recirculate? This panel explores how the materialities of waste, rubbish, debris, refuse, castoffs, and pollution enable new forms of sociality in these “free” spaces, marked by radical politics of belonging, adaptation, and survival.

Further, the panel explores the relationships—both symbiotic and antagonistic— between prevailing circulatory structures and the “free” spaces constituted in their absence. We might understand the “free” here in the sense of valueless, or in another instance as the sense of liberatory, and yet another instance in the sense of nothing left to lose. What fissures in these prevailing structures might we uncover that reveal both suffering and redemption, hurt and transcendence? How do people appropriate the myriad of social and material utility that persists in these fissures? What unexpected intersections and transformations might we find amidst reclamation and deterritorialization? How might we theorize an immanent freedom (in terms of valuelessness, autonomy, or simply “nothing left to lose”) distinct from politically or economically bounded sovereignties?

We welcome papers investigating the implications of these questions for a range of topics—spanning, for example, political economy, cultural identity, globalization, urbanization, racial and gender formations, class privilege, environmental justice, postcolonial studies, migration, social movements, subcultures, and counterpublics.

Please send a paper abstract of no more than 250 words along with paper title and keywords to both panel co-organizers by April 4, 2014:

David Boarder Giles
University of Canterbury

Trang X. Ta
Australian National University