Category Archives: Death

Michael Brown, Eric Garner, and Discard Studies

This is a call, grounded in my own speechlessness, for scholars to articulate the conditions under which the seemingly extreme cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner are not anomalies, but symptoms of a wider system of values that dictate which lives are disposable and which are not, what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior.
It is also a call to take to the streets. As Mary Douglas has taught us, “dirt” is all about maintaining good citizenship. The failure to indict is a clear statement that no crime has been committed: police brutality is an acceptable form of citizenship. But it isn’t. It’s dirty. It’s filthy.

CFP: Corpses, Technologies, and Cultures

Open Session CFP for the Joint Meeting of Society for Social Studies of Science (4S) and Sociedad Latinoamericana de Estudios Sociales de la Ciencia y la Tecnología (ESOCITE) August 20 – 23, 2014 | Buenos Aires, Argentina Corpses, Technologies, and Cultures Organizers: Philip Olson Language: English Dead human bodies occupy physical and cultural spaces in which a wide […]
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Trash, debris, or neither? The Nature of Waste During Disaster

Not only do natural (and unnatural) disasters produce a lot of waste, they are also extreme but oddly quintessential events where practices, behavior, and cultures around waste and wasting, as well as their inverse–repairing, fixing, rebuilding–move to the fore. In the weeks proceeding and following the one year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy making landfall in New York City and surrounding area, Discard Studies will feature a series of articles about the complexities of disaster and waste, broadly defined. This article looks at the material and emotional nature of waste during disaster.

Arrested Decay: The Exorcism of an American Ghost Town

Bodie, California is a ghost town. Or rather, it was a ghost town—now it is a historic park and tourist destination. It endures in a state of “arrested decay,” meaning that nothing can be newly constructed onsite, but neither are its standing buildings permitted to deteriorate any further. The state of California has suspended the town in its process of ruination, stabilizing its entropy and halting its decline. If its decay is forestalled, its grounds rigorously maintained and its aesthetic carefully cultivated, can it be called a ghost town any longer?

Ruin Memories Portfolio online

Numerous studies have focused on modernity’s destructive effect on traditional life- worlds, the desertion of villages and the ruination of rural areas. However, the fact that the modern condition also produces its own ruined materialities, its own marginalized pasts, is less spoken about. Since the 19th century, mass-production, consumerism and thus cycles of material replacement […]
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A review of The Perfect Food and the Filth Disease: Milk, Typhoid Fever, and the Science of State Medicine in Victorian Britain, 1850-1900

Discard Studies has created a new resource page for dissertations and thesis related to the field. The partial review below is taken from Dissertation Reviews, a relatively new online publishing venue for freshly minted research (we highly recommend new graduates submit their work). If you would like your or your advisee’s dissertation on the Discard […]
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CFP: Ethics and Aesthetics of Epidemiological Photography

Saturday, 14 September 2013 Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, United Kingdom Convener Dr Christos Lynteris (Mellon/Newton Research Fellow, CRASSH) Despite recent developments in the historical and anthropological study of medical photography, the photographic depiction of epidemics remains a largely unexplored area in the humanities and the […]
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CFP: History and Cultural Representations of Human Remains

Call for Papers: History and Cultural Representations of Human Remains Conferences Medical Museums and Anatomic Collections at the Natural History Museum, Toulouse, on 4 February, 2013 Anatomic Models at the Academy of Medicine, Paris, on 4 April, 2013 Exhibiting Human Remains at the Hunterian Museum, London, on 4 June, 2013 Although modern anatomy owes a […]
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Audio Alert: Archives, Storage of the Dead, Storing Waste & Self-storage

A new series on The Thread Radio has a new series on storage, a topic near and dear to discard researcher’s heart, as it is both the opposite of discarding (archiving) but also its corollary, as discards must be stored. We’ve probably all stated more than once “there is no ‘away.’” So it is no […]
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Article alert- Landscapes of the dead? Natural burial and the materialization of absence

Presence/absence, boundaries/excess, marked/unmarked and natural/postnatural are some of the comparative analytical frames discard studies frequently use. A new article in the Journal of Material Culture on natural burial, “Landscapes of the dead? Natural burial and the materialization of absence,” uses these frames in investigate burial practices. Abstract This article questions the emphasis on presence within […]
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