Category Archives: history

Reconciliation’s Waste: heritage and waste in post-apartheid South Africa

Portable toilets and urine on colonial era statues are reconciliations ruins, the things leftover that heritage helps to frame but yet cannot fully explain. As matter that remains unresolved, I think it tells us about the unfinished work of reconciliation in South Africa.

Thompson on Sills, ‘Toxic War: The Story of Agent Orange’

The use of the defoliant Agent Orange by the United States is one of the most controversial actions of the Vietnam War. InToxic War: The Story of Agent Orange, Peter Sills provides much-needed clarity to the history of Agent Orange with his use of data made available by legal proceedings.

Environmental historians get wasted: ASEH conference report

What’s my take on this torrent of waste at ASEH? I think it really signals a maturation of a second generation of waste scholarship in environmental history that began in the early 2000s.

DDT’s long shadow: Long-banned chemicals linked to abnormal sperm

A study of men from the Faroe Islands finds that high DDT and PCB exposure during adolescence and adulthood is associated with abnormal chromosomes in sperm. By Brian Bienkowski, EHN.

Roundtable reviews of “Banned: A History of Pesticides and the Science of Toxicology”

If you’re interested in the history of pesticides and toxicology, Banned provides a detail-oriented, close reading of key 20th century experiments, legislative hearings, events, and texts to investigate how scientific facts and legislative decisions about pesticides were made.

CFP: Envirotechnical Histories of Waste Management — ASEH 2016, Seattle

The papers in this panel will approach and explore solid waste management histories as enviro-technical systems riddled with political, social, economic, and identity questions.

Students create concept models for Giant Mine markers: Communicating contamination in perpetuity

By Arn Keeling “Project Dystopia,” “The Information Tomb” and the “Giant Facility for Environmental Hazards” were among the conceptual models developed for markers and warning systems at Yellowknife’s Giant Mine by a class of cultural geography students at Memorial University. The abandoned Giant Mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories is the location of 237,000 tonnes of […]
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A Cabinet of Curiosities for the Anthropocene

The Anthropocene is just one among many moments in time when new scientific objects have altered humanity’s relationship to the past, present, and future. Scientific objects such as fossils, radioactivity, genetic mutations, toxic pesticides, and ice cores, to name a few, have precipitated different narratives and imaginings of the human past and the human future. What might a cabinet of curiosities for the age of the Anthropocene look like?

Modern Waste is an Economic Strategy

Industry developed disposability through planned obsolescence, single-use items, cheap materials, throw-away packaging, fashion, and conspicuous consumption. American industry designed a shift in values that circulated goods through, rather than into, the consumer realm. The truism that humans are inherently wasteful came into being at a particular time and place, by design.

Speculative Historiographies of Techno-Trash

The project asks: “what if we were required to physically store and care for our personal devices, such as cell phones and desktop computers, long after these machines served their intended function? In such an imaginary, unusable technologies remain within our sights, and in our sites.” They are asking people to submit their stories.