Techniques & Culture International Workshop
Coordination : Jamie Furniss, Frédéric Joulian, Yann-Philippe Tastevin
Hosted by the MuCEM in partnership with the EHESS and the Centre Norbert Elias (CNRS-EHESS-UAPV-AMU)
20-21 November 2014
I2MP Fort Saint-Jean-Marseille
Open to all (subject to availability of spaces and upon registration)
Remainders and the way they are dealt with are a productive social sciences heuristic. Or so we wish to
argue. Incorporating the subject of waste but seeking to cast a much wider net, this workshop brings
together researchers from multiple disciplines, working in a variety of distant and ‘nearby’ fieldsites,
around the topic of ‘remainders,’ conceived of not only as ‘obverse of production’ but also in their crucial
practical and symbolic dimensions.
Analyzing remainder(s) provides insight into a series of profoundly interwoven social, environmental, and
In the context of an exhibition ‘Ordures!’, planned for 2017, and a special issue of the journal Techniques &
culture to be published in partnership with the MuCEM, this workshop aims to explore, extend, and question the
notion itself of ‘remainder’ as well as the relationship between remainder and waste in the broadest sense,
including as it relates to globalized flows of (over)consumption.
At a time when certain social science researchers are re-exploring the notion of Anthropocene, what heuristic
challenges do these categories of remainders pose?
What are the consequences of dealing with objects in a way that does not contemplate exchange, circulation, or
return? Conversely, to what extent do circulatory economies reincorporate remainders in unexpected ways?
Does the study of remainders, or what Georges Bataille called the ‘accursed share,’ allow, as he promised, for
turning our way of thinking ‘upside down’ by broadening our current ‘restricted economy’ to a ‘general
Remainders cannot be conceived of as ontologically given, but must rather be thought of as belonging to a
category the contours of which expand, contract, and deconstruct themselves depending on the value regimes,
techniques, and beliefs of each society, as well as through activities such as elimination, collection, repair,
transformation, re-valuation, preservation. Similarly, the notion of remainder has different material and
immaterial meanings: should hunter-gatherer or horticultural societies be regarded as being ‘remainderless’ (or
at least without waste?). Or do remainders, cinders, excreta take other (immaterial?) forms in a humid tropical
environment characterized by the biodegradability of plant matter, a context that is clearly very different from
one dominated by metal or plastic artefacts of industrial societies.
Apart from the material forms of remainders, the processes or transformations by which they change status are
of particular importance for the collective reflection we seek to develop through this special issue. We are
particularly keen on studies that reveal forms of innovation, knowledge, savoir-faire, bricolage, and ways-ofbeing
that the accelerated world of consumption and overproduction produces as rebound and resistance
effects, in particular against planned obsolescence.