The new multidisciplinary field of discard studies considers definitions of, attitudes toward, behaviors around, and materialities of waste, broadly defined. This blog is meant as an online gathering place for scholars, activists, environmentalists, students, artists, planners, and anyone else whose work touches on themes relevant to the study of waste and wasting.
Discard practices involve many elements, including:
- social customs
- labor arrangements
- resource stocks and flows
- economic relationships
- cultural norms
- public health controversies
- political histories
- geographies and circulation
Attitudes about discards as objects and discarding as a practice are informed by deeply held and sometimes contradictory notions of value, worthlessness, disgust, and the boundaries of the self, as well as material factors and practical logistics.
Discard studies as a field in its own right has rich potential, drawing upon but going beyond approaches to waste undertaken in disciplines of cultural anthropology, economics, sociology, archaeology, geography, history, and environmental studies, to name a few. A growing number of researchers from all of these disciplines are asking questions about waste, not just as an ecological problem, but as a process, as a category of rejected material goods, as a mentality, as a judgment, as an infrastructural and economic challenge, as a political loci, a site for power struggles, and as a source of creativity.
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