CFP: Reuse in an Accelerated World: Mining the Past to Reshape the Future (edited volume)

Proposed Edited Book in a new Routledge series: Antinomies: Innovations in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Creative Arts (series edited by Anthony Elliott and Jennifer Rutherford)
Book Editors: Robert Crocker and Keri Chiveralls

Call for Contributions – extended now until November 30th, 2014

Reuse and repurposing have always been part of our engagement with objects and spaces, from the late classical ‘Christianising’ of pagan temples to the repurposing of buildings, household objects, vessels and coins, especially when traversing from one culture, place and time to another. People too can be, and have been, ‘repurposed’ or ‘reused’, as ancient captured peoples were when they were turned into slaves, and as many refugees, ‘illegal’ immigrants and bonded labourers are today. Global second-hand and antique markets, international trades in various commodities and waste products, from textiles and clothing to dumped goods and food, all retell a version of this story, within the broader, social, material and cultural narratives that are not fixed in place and time, or by preconceptions of value.

The social and cultural impact of reuse or repurposing upon consumption practices in everyday life is particularly important to reconsider in an age of social and technological acceleration, and an increasingly unsustainable expansion of global consumerism. Reuse and repurposing in design terms have more than a symbolic social or cultural value, as a form of material anti-consumption, or as ‘design activism’ against mainstream consumerism. For reuse may bring into focus the accelerated and environmentally destructive pace of everyday consumption, its technological mediation and distance from production. It may reveal a desynchronized attempt to link consumption practices more directly to production, and re-establish a custodial relationship between the owner and the object of use. Re-use may be a means of protesting against, and subverting the dominance of a ‘waste-ready’ accelerated newness in today’s consumerism. Reuse may also be a means of establishing more durable, stable and culturally specific relationships, and a historically aware, culturally deeper and more stable sense of identity at a time of continuous and rapid change.

Inviting innovative essays from many disciplines, including design, anthropology, sociology and cultural studies, this edited collection aims to investigate the social and cultural meanings of reuse and repurposing across cultures and disciplines. We will invite potential contributors to consider reuse and repurposing as a mode of response to accelerated global change, as an act of creation and hybrid production, a form of consumption, a response to social or economic conditions, a means of historically engaged place-making, and of personal and collective identity construction.

Every proposal will be considered on its own merits, but we are inviting potential contributors to especially consider the following typical themes:

1. Everyday Needs and Reuse: Food, water, shelter, work, education, technology and healthcare are all unequally distributed in the global economy, with some groups enjoying unprecedented access to everything they need and more, whilst others have restricted access to even the most basic necessities.

2. Repair, Obsolescence and Reuse: Technological systems and devices are increasingly short-lived and quickly upgraded, because of ‘built in’ obsolescence or marketing systems that encourage early upgrading. Designers, hacktivists and environmentalists have been imagining more durable, environmentally responsible relationships in our material culture for many years.

3. Innovating with Waste: Reuse and repurposing are now creative design practices responding to growing collections of things that are no longer valued. This ‘waste’ is a directconsequence of excesses in consumption, production and resource use, and the social inequalities of their distribution.

4. The Aesthetics and Meaning of Reuse: Reuse and repurposing are a hybrid form of creation, that rejects the future-oriented, accelerated ‘new’ and ‘complete’ object, space or image favoured by both neo-modernist design and contemporary consumerism, for a hybrid mode of creation, that is still poorly understood and under-theorised.

Abstract Submissions should be no more than 400 words (max), and should be submitted to the Editors by November 30th, 2014. Abstracts will be peer reviewed and all submissions will receive a written response from the editors by December 10th. Authors of accepted abstracts will then be invited t submit a full paper by February 25th, 2015. All essays submitted will be double-blind peer reviewed, and authors will be contacted by March 25th, 2015 with a response from the editors. Final, corrected essays will be submitted to the editrs for editing in early May. We hare hoping to submit the complete manuscript to the publisher by early July, 2015.

Please submit your abstract with a short author bio to: