Author Archives: Robin Nagle

Publishing Opportunity | March 1 deadline

Discard Studies is a relatively new endeavor, but it meshes well with other forms of scholarship and advocacy — especially those wanting to reach an audience outside academia. In that spirit, the Center for a Public Anthropology (warning: their link opens with music) has partnered with the University of California Press to issue a call […]
Read More »

Falling In Love with “This is New York’s Strongest”

We’ve mentioned Lisa Dowda and Liz Ligon before; they are the creative force behind Chasing Sanitation, a website about the lives and labors of New York City’s sanitation workers. This weekend they move beyond the web, into an exhibition opening Saturday in New York. Their work deserves a wide audience. Ligon’s photographs are lush and […]
Read More »

…But Where Do We Put It?

It’s always been a doozy of a discard problem: where to put radioactive waste? How to make it inert — and keep it that way? It exemplifies the essential dilemma created by so many categories of our discards: how can it be contained? Recent developments at the Hanford Site, which covers 586 square miles in […]
Read More »

“A discard in the fountain” by Eric Friedman

Here is a post on Journal Square by Eric Friedman. He illustrates how places can become discards. Eric focuses on the phenomenology of place in his ongoing ethnography of Jersey City’s central square.

Debut Guest Post! Friedman’s “Washing Up”

I extend a warm welcome to Eric Friedman, Discard Studies’ newest contributor.  A sociologist, Friedman’s work focuses on the forces behind urban decay, renewal, and stasis. The example he explores in most depth concerns Journal Square, the formerly vibrant commercial and cultural hub of Jersey City, NJ, that is now a desolate place scarred by […]
Read More »

Dirt Conference

Just in time for the holidays! This year’s New York Metropolitan Studies Association conference considers dirt: “What does it mean to call something dirty? How do we understand dirt and its opposite, cleanliness? How do we explain the points at which we draw the line between clean and dirty, what we embrace and what we […]
Read More »

Debut Guest Post! Liboiron on Andy Hughes’ “Dominant Wave Theory”

Max Liboiron contributes this post about a specific and luminously beautiful garbage-art — and its devastating implications. Liboiron is a scholar, activist, and artist engaged in work that is deeply relevant to the themes of the Discard Studies project. She is joining the blog as a regular author, so will soon be posting under her […]
Read More »

How to Learn Invisible Labor? Get On Your Knees.

Thomas Rochon, president of Ithaca College in upstate New York, wrote this essay in a recent issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s a thoughtful rumination on his experiences working with the school’s maintenance and grounds crews. He spent only three days with them, but that’s a lot more than most (any?) other college […]
Read More »

Holding Back the Sands of Time

At the end of September I took a four-day workshop called ‘Care and Identification of Photographic Materials,’ sponsored by the Metropolitan New York Library Council. We spent hours scrutinizing daguerreotypes, albumen prints, Polaroids; we gauged qualities of finishes – high gloss? dead matte? – and colors of deterioration (purplish-red or yellowish-brown?). Our teacher, Gawain Weaver, […]
Read More »

Of Landfills, Parks, and Legacies

For the past several years, a consortium of city agencies, community groups, not-for-profit arts and planning organizations, artists, and landscape architects have been working together to create the bright and verdant future of a geography that, not too long ago, was deeply despised. Because of their efforts, Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island, once the […]
Read More »