Contagion, or the way disease, disgust and dirt circulates, how the effects of dirt transfer to bodies, and how harm is conceptualized, is central to discard studies. From miasma, through the germ theory of disease, and now for chronic, pervasive models of pollution brought about by endocrine distributors and radiation, theories of contagion have been closely linked to waste and filth, both in material and cultural senses. Sampson’s Virality relates to work such as Douglas’ Purity and Danger, and Bowker and Star’s Sorting Things Out, where a theory of the viral, or the mechanisms by which contagion travels, is both sociological and mimetic (though, often not all that material).
From the publisher’s website:
In this thought-provoking work, Tony D. Sampson presents a contagion theory fit for the age of networks. Unlike memes and microbial contagions, Virality does not restrict itself to biological analogies and medical metaphors. It instead points toward a theory of contagious assemblages, events, and affects. For Sampson, contagion is not necessarily a positive or negative force of encounter; it is how society comes together and relates.
Sampson argues that a biological knowledge of contagion has been universally distributed by way of the rhetoric of fear in the antivirus industry and other popular discourses surrounding network culture. This awareness is also detectable in concerns over too much connectivity, such as problems of global financial crisis and terrorism. Sampson’s “virality” is as established as that of the biological meme and microbe but is not understood through representational thinking expressed in metaphors and analogies. Rather, Sampson interprets contagion theory through the social relationalities first established in Gabriel Tarde’s microsociology and subsequently recognized in Gilles Deleuze’s ontological worldview.
According to Sampson, the reliance on representational thinking to explain the social behavior of networking—including that engaged in by nonhumans such as computers—allows language to overcategorize and limit analysis by imposing identities, oppositions, and resemblances on contagious phenomena. It is the power of these categories that impinges on social and cultural domains. Assemblage theory, on the other hand, is all about relationality and encounter, helping us to understand the viral as a positively sociological event, building from the molecular outward, long before it becomes biological.
1. Resuscitating Tarde’s Diagram in the Age of Networks
2. What Spreads? From Memes and Crowds to the Phantom Events of Desire and Belief
3. What Diagram? Toward a Political Economy of Desire and Contagion
4. From Terror Contagion to the Virality of Love
5. Tardean Hypnosis: Capture and Escape in the Age of Contagion
Detritivores are creatures that consume decaying matter. Detritivore designs use abundant waste products to make scalable technology solutions. Unlike loftier concepts of zero-waste design such as Cradle to Cradle, Detritivore design accepts that the world is already loaded with discarded and broken technology. Detritivore designers need not create a recyclable or even non-toxic product, since the materials already exist — we merely try to squeeze out whatever functionality objects may have left.
The Public Lab Spectrometry Kit is a detritivore design. It consumes waste products and uses them to search for other, more dangerous wastes. Pipe cutoffs, obsolete webcams, and optical discs are sufficient to make a functioning spectrometer. The central component, the diffraction grating, is made from CDs and DVDs, disposable media with extremely precise grooves. Long after the media written onto these discs decays into illegibility, they will still function as diffraction gratings, splitting light into a rainbow that can be quantified and used for material identification.
We’ve made spectrometer plans, sell kits, and have created Spectral Challenge, an X-Prize-style competition to identify environmental contaminants. We are dedicated to this project’s continuity, but with over 200 billion CDs and over 1 billion DVD players in the world, it is unlikely that we will ever run out of hardware. Our design patterns ensure that optical disc spectrometry can outlast any one project or manufacturer.
There are commercial diffraction gratings that we could use, and they would simplify the construction of our retail kits a little bit, but they wouldn’t significantly increase the accuracy of our device. Doing spectroscopy with consumer detritus is more important to our scientific program than simplifying our kits. We mail kits around the globe, but mail can’t reach all the places thatDVDs and CDs already have. Detritivore design affects the permanence of trash as a badge of hope rather than dismay; we need never worry about losing access to our science equipment. We’re developing a platform on top of ubiquitous trash, using its persistent nature to escape the ephemerality of the startup culture in which we design.
It is time to naturalize trash as a set of unique design materials valuable as more than just raw materials for new things or kitschy aesthetic references to previous eras. Reach into the trash can. Minimizing or eliminating non-reusable and non-biodegradable elements in designs is laudable, but we should put more effort into designing around the persistent functionality of objects whose primary purpose has failed. It’s time to stop hiding trash and start living in it,” studying it,”:http://discardstudies.wordpress.com/ and embracing the roughly 1 million pounds per person per year for the average North American creates.
Our dialogue on waste has shifted from disposal, displacement, and dilution towards minimization and elimination, but we need to move beyond a false hope that we will escape waste and towards an intimacy with our culture’s primary product: broken junk.
Mathew Lippincott is of the opinion that the future needs better instructions. An artist and designer working in technology development & education, he splits his time between creating low-cost science kits and restroom reform. A founding member of the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab), and MDML design, Mathew’s recent life highlights include his Balloon Mapping Kickstarter being listed as one of the 10 best projects of 2012, MDML’s Sewer Catastrophe Companion being exhibited at the Center for Disease Control and approved by the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, and developing signage for theBeacon Food Forest in Seattle.
Around one hundred Cooper Union students are in the third day of occupying the office of their president. The protest comes after a vastly unpopular decision by their board of trustees, lead by school president Bharucha, to end their more than 100 year tradition of a tuition-free school. They are fighting against an accelerating trend of introducing financial barriers to education around the world. And they’re keeping it clean.
I’ve written elsewhere about how power struggles are often waged via dirt and discard. The Cooper Union protest is no different. Yesterday, Cooper Union higher-ups cut off access to water and bathrooms, removing the ability to keep and stay clean:
TC Westcott, Cooper Union’s vice president of finance, arrived at 5 p.m. to tell students that they had an hour to leave, or face the school’s judiciary process. Security guards cut off use of the 6th and 7th floor stairwells, and students found that their bathroom doors had been bolted shut, along with a wooden board tamped over the water fountain.
If this protest follows an age-old script, at some point someone in power will declare that the sit in is threatening health and safety via poor sanitation, and that eviction is necessary for clean up. It’s not political, it’s just household chores.
Perhaps in anticipation of this, but much more likely as a material and symbolic action that shows they care for their school, the sit-in students have posted countless animated gifs and images of them cleaning up the president’s office.
This short video was posted about ten minutes ago:
A photo of the blackboard in the office shows the student’s activist plans, and cleaning is mentioned more than once:
Dirt and cleanliness are about dividing the line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours, about us and them, and about safe and unsafe. By making housekeeping such a visible part of their protest, whether conscious or not, Cooper students are making larger statements about their role in their institution, about inclusiveness, and about care, caretaking, and citizenship at Cooper Union.
There’s an interesting call for projects looking for “the most innovative projects in which repairability plays a significant role in the world.” It is a call for the converse of discard and disposability.
From the site: There is a growing demand for longer lasting objects, things that are no longer destined to die the first time they break.
In the very moment in which a spontaneous bottom-up movement has taken steps to put the focus back on repair as opposed to replacement, industry has to rethink the real life cycle of products. Durability and repairability stop being mere functional issues: they impact the sphere of values we apply to evaluate product quality.
An invitation to redesign production standards, but also our cultural relationship with objects.
For the culture of design and production, all this represents a challenge that can lead to innovation.
The projects can be by individual designers, companies, or groups; makers of innovation are surveyed, with the only prayer to always underline the name of the author of the innovation.
We are looking for:
accessible, simplified, easy to be assembled and disassembled products, updating or adapting projects for industrial products, reconditioned garments, spare parts strategies and programs of post-sales assistance, repairability technologies, re-healable materials, new aesthetics, repair kits, web platforms, DIY 2.0, easy-to-use repair instructions and manuals, architectural refurbishment of the built, photographic reportages, social and territorial programs for the promotion of an economy based on durability and repairability, towards an innovative relationship with objects.
Name of the author, profession, age at the time of the project. Title of the project. Year. Company. Link to site of project/product + link to video (if available).
Description of the characteristics of the project and its innovative content.
Max 100 words.
Images in jpg or png format, 72 dpi and 800 pixel. Max 5 images.
The information should be submitted in English or Italian. Attachments must not be larger than a total of 6MB. Projects, data and credits for each project are submitted under the sole responsibility of the sender. When the survey has been completed, each author will be informed about the use of material submitted.
The verb “to repair”, from the Latin reparare, indicates the possibility of restoring to good condition, but also that of fixing a mistake and, to shift the accent, of defending (shielding, sheltering), namely protecting something precious to us.
Since at least the publication of Silent Spring, scientists, policy-makers, and the general public has focused on pollution in the environment as the object of regulation and control, a source of fear and anxiety, and the subject of scientific testing. As technologies, analytical detection limits, and eco-populist, anti-toxic movements have developed over the decades, scrutiny has increasingly turned to the pollution in the body, captured by the notion of a “body burden:” the presence of industrial chemicals or radiation in the body. Body burdens become legible through practices of biomonitoring, and sometimes through claims of biocitizenship – through which life becomes the basis for making demands on the state (Murphy 2008, Petryna 2002).
This panel seeks to bring scholars into a conversation on the history of the concept of body burdens and the practices of biomonitoring. In particular, how has notion of a body burden challenged or remade older scientific, legal, and policy frameworks on pollution, encouraged new understandings of the porosities of bodies, and altered the everyday experience of toxic risk and ambiguity? Synthetic chemicals in bodies raise questions about the assumed boundaries between bodies and environments, between industrial and personal spaces, and between “matter out of place,” “matters of course” and “matters of concern” in an environment saturated with industrial processes. The concept of body burdens also raise questions about the relationship between exposure and harm, the nature of informed consent, and vulnerabilities within heterogenous populations. The practices of biomonitoring can enable the democratization of knowledge of environmental toxicity but also the individualization of risk – particularly in the absence of effective state regulation of industrial chemicals. Finally, given that all humans now carry some form of body burden, notions of health and safety premised on acute exposures are shifting to notions of chronic exposure, though this shift is occurring unevenly across stakeholder groups (Kai 1994).
We are seeking 10-15 minute presentations for the American Society for Environmental History conference in San Francisco, March 12-16th.
Topics may include:
- the history of the concept of body burdens
- Maximum Permissible Doses and No Observable Adverse Effect Levels
- competing concepts of bodily pollution
- how harm, vulnerability, and risk have been articulated in relation to body burdens
- activism and imaging around body burdens
- the legal status of interior pollution
- techniques, efforts, and failures to correlate exposure to harm
- the rise of occupational health and its relation to civilian exposure to industrial chemicals
- body burdens and the Cold War
- animal versus human body burdens
- the implications of different materialities of body burdens, such as radiation vs. endocrine disruptors
- the role of metabolism
- humans as industrial sinks
- race, class, gender and body burdens
* Please forward to potentially interested parties*
Erikson, Kai. 1995. A New Species of Trouble. W. W. Norton & Company.
Murphy, Michelle. “Chemical regimes of living.” Environmental History 13, no. 4 (2008): 695-703.
Petryna, Adriana. 2002. Life Exposed: Biological Citizens After Chernobyl. Princeton University Press.
Via Reid Lifset, editor of Journal of Industrial Ecology (JIE):
Over the past two decades governments around the world have been experimenting with a new strategy for managing waste. By making producers responsible for their products when they become wastes, policy makers seek to significantly increase the recycling-and recyclability-of computers, packaging, automobiles, and household hazardous wastes such as batteries, used oil motor, and leftover paint-and save money in the process.
This strategy, known as extended producer responsibility (EPR), is the subject of a new special feature in Yale University’s Journal of Industrial Ecology. The special feature examines the use of EPR across diverse scales-from countries to provinces and states-and investigates work underway in the U.S., the European Union, Canada, China, Brazil and the State of Washington. The application of EPR to e-waste is a particular focus of the research in the special feature.
The Journal of Industrial Ecology is a bimonthly peer-reviewed scientific journal, owned by Yale University, published by Wiley-Blackwell and headquartered at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies.
Articles in the special feature are freely downloadable for a limited time at: http://jie.yale.edu/EPR
Partial support for this special feature was provided by Nestle Waters North America with additional funding from Reverse Logistics Group Americas LLC.
Call for Papers: The Global South 7.2 (Spring 2014) Theme: “The Aesthetics of Dislocation” Guest Editor: Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra For this issue, the editors invite papers that explore the relationship between aesthetics and place: how does the relationship to place condition aesthetic practice, and how does a change of place alter that practice? We are particularly interested in the figurative, literal, and affective cartographies that emerge from large-scale political change and the loss of “place.” Contributions should explore the semantic, epistemological, aesthetic, and political possibilities opened up by change of place, particularly in the context of new cultural and spatial frameworks. Papers may focus on, for example, aesthetic production by exiles from authoritarian regimes or failed states. “Exile” and “displacement” may be: literal or figurative; internal or external to a given nation; political or economic; coerced or elective. Alternately, contributions may explore works by members of migrant communities in the global North as well as South. Further possible topics include: • The role of old frameworks in shaping new (figurative and literal) geographies • Exile, geographic dislocation, and the emergence of new kinds of cosmopolitan (or transnational) subjects • The role of self-imposed displacement in opening up new aesthetic or discursive frontiers • The representation of exile as a question of nostalgia and/or epistemic perplexity • Exile or displacement as alternate mechanisms for the creation of world literature • Translation (or translation theory), dubbing, and other forms of trans-linguistic interpretation The Global South is an interdisciplinary journal published by Indiana University Press. It concentrates on the literatures and cultures of those parts of the world that have experienced the most political, social, and economic upheaval, and which have suffered the brunt of the greatest challenges facing the world under globalization. Areas of interest include Africa, Central and Latin America, much of Asia, and those “Souths” within a larger perceived North, such as the U.S. South, the Caribbean, and Mediterranean Europe. This issue of The Global South is scheduled for publication at the end of 2013. Please submit abstracts (500 words) along with a short bio by May 15, 2013. Articles will be due no later than August 1, 2013. Contributions should be 7,000 – 10,000 words long. Please send submissions and questions to Magalí Armillas-Tiseyra at email@example.com.
“When I got to get the stuff in the bucket, first I go down the far left edge of the pile, dump it in. Then I go down the far right side of the pile, dump it in. Then I go down the middle. So everything fits in the back of the truck, all even.”
“Yes! That’s coordinating movement, space, and energy. Dance.”*
The conversation above takes place between a sanitation worker in Austin, Texas, and choreographer Allison Orr in the excellent documentary Trash Dance, directed by Andrew Garrison. The film shows Orr’s process of putting together a choreographed “dance” of dump trucks, trash bins, and sanitation workers based on their everyday movements and talents.
The story is excellent not only because of the behind-the-scene views of Austin’s sanitation infrastructure via Orr’s month of preliminary ride-along with waste workers. Rather, the interviews with sanitation workers and the progression of the project from one of indifference, suspicion and disbelief on their part, through the slow buy-in, and finally to the display of comradery, talent, dedication, and somewhat ad hoc beauty is the center of the documentary. While the three-minute solo with the mechanical crane set to classical music is beautiful in itself, it is the interview with the huge African American sanitation worker declaring that he had to be in the show because he was the best damn crane operator in the city, and asking himself “how am I going to make this machine romantic?” that makes the movie. As one sanitation worker puts it, “The thing about this project is, we go from being just a bunch of nameless trash haulers to being Anthony, and Drew, and Ian.”*
In this way, Trash Dance is similar to the work done by New York City’s unique artist-in-residence and anthropologist-in-residence. In fact, Robin Nagle, DSNYC’s anthropologist-in-residence was one of the panelists after a viewing of Trash Dance in DUMBO. Along with the director and a NYC retired sanitation worker, the panel tended to be about telling stories about the day to day work and everyday workers that keep the city clean. These stories had the same kind of e/affect as the documentary. The differentiation of a massive work force into unique individuals doing a valuable job is reflected in both Robin Nagle’s new book, Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City, and in artist-in-residence Meirle Laderman Ukeles‘ famous performance piece Touch Sanitation, where she individually shook the hand of every sanitation worker in the city over a two year period. It would seem that cultural workers introduced into waste infrastructure have a similar mission that I haven’t seen achieved by many other means. Cultural production via the humanities is a kind of methodology of respect and storytelling for which sanitation is a rich canvas.
You can see the film streamed from the official Trash Dance website for a limited time. There are also screenings in:
April 26-May 2 | The reRun Theater | Brooklyn NY
May 3-9 | Violet Crown Cinema | Austin TX
May 5 | Dance Camera West @ Annenberg Beach House | Los Angeles CA
May 17 | 14 Pews | Houston TX
June 22 | Northwest Film Forum | Seattle WA
July 13-14 | FilmBar | Phoenix AZ
July 12-18 | Gateway Film Center | Columbus OH
*All quotes are based on recollections of dialogue after viewing the film and are not verbatim.
The Gallery of Lost Art is an online exhibition via the Tate Modern that explores the materiality, nature, biography and archive of missing works of art.The website explains:
Destroyed, stolen, rejected, erased, ephemeral. Some of the most significant artworks of the last 100 years have been lost, and can no longer be seen. Some artworks were thrown out by accident or lost through neglect or decay. Others were obliterated by war, acts of violence, or censorship, or were created to be temporary, lasting only a few years, months, or even minutes. Explore the records here, and discover how loss has silently shaped modern art history.
The website is divided into sections: Unrealized, Ephemeral, Rejected, Stolen, Discarded, Transient, Erased, Lost, Missing, Destroyed, Attacked. This list reads like an overview of major themes in discard studies. The differences between lost and missing, the place of violence and attack in loss of materials, and the difference between things intended to be ephemeral and those that are erased are all instructive for studies of socio-materiality central to discard studies. Using art, and in this case, often canonical art, as the subject of a discard study is particularly interesting because of the value placed upon these cultural objects. The unstated premise of the project is that the art discussed has inherent value, but that value is contested through the techniques of loss (emphemerality, rejection, discarded, attack…).
Sometimes, the technique of loss is not necessarily known:
The Gallery of Lost Art is full of such representations, where the materiality of the artwork in question has been shifted to a photograph, an arrangement of pixels, and textual descriptions, highlighting the techniques of scavenging, preservation, and circulation for these absent objects.
Thanks to Material World Blog for the lead.
“Out of culture: Society through its wastes”
Frédéric Joulian (EHESS), Agnès Jeanjean (Univ. de Nice)
Centre Norbert Elias
EHESS, Centre Vieille Charité,
2 rue de la Charité, Marseille
salle de réunion 3rd floor
If one considers the phenomenon of culture in all its acceptions, and indeed contradictions (a set of objects and practices versus the way to do things), what is then crucial is to attempt to grasp what escapes culture or is excluded from our normative and material sphere. Whether it be “non-human primates”, which today we regard as having objects and traditions, “pre-cultural” prehistoric humans, or forms of “nature” considered to be outside the anthropic sphere, numerous phenomenon, tackled genealogically or through comparison, can instruct us on topics that are “non-thinkable” or illegitimate in the human sciences.
The main focus of our seminar and conference is the question of wastes, excreta, surpluses, which in an inductive manner (archaeologically), allow us to understand behavioural, psychological and social determinants, and ultimately to propose broader explicative models of social dynamics and logics.
Wastes and their treatment are a useful heuristic within the social sciences—at least that’s the position we defend in the context of this seminar. Waste is envisaged here as the “flipside of production” but also as inexorably exercising symbolic and signifying functions. Wastes will be considered “good to think”, from a variety of angles and approaches. We will raise anthropological, psychoanalytic, and economic theories to understand the meaning of refuse in our societies, the questions it raises, and the ways in which it is thought about—or not.
Through the examination of practices observed by ethnologists in their respective fieldwork sites, we will examine what is at stake symbolically, socially, politically and economically in activities such as waste collection, bricolage, repair, rejection, destruction, the second-hand economy, memory and commemoration, etc. We will place particular emphasis on one possible destiny for “leftovers”: waste, and its corollary, impurity. Through different fieldwork examples we will examine the articulation between social position and impurity, work activities that place people in contact with waste, and the effects theses substances and objects can have on people.
F. Joulian, A. Jeanjean
10 – 10:30 – An introduction
Frédéric Joulian (Ehess)
10:30 – 11:30 – Could we get to a “non-culture” from our societies’ refuse?
In this short talk I will explore an alternative way to objectivate culture, which I would call a “negative” way, at a broad categorial level. While cultural variations are usually distinguished by their visible and positive aspects, absences are a manner to objectivate or to demonstrate them. I will analyze archaeological and ethnographic examples that focus on these “missing dimensions”, whether they are commented upon (within culture) or not (out of culture). What is a discarded, thrown away, or abandoned object? Are they all similarly “objects”, belonging in the same way to a “material culture”, be it that of an industrial, rural or hunter-gatherer society?
Other examples will be examined of uncontrolled wastes (carried by ocean currents, rivers or animals). Because such refuse escapes control and normative discourses, it can give access to the complexity of social dynamics and the meanings of objects and materials in our everyday environments. Wastes ultimately push us to consider the fate we are creating for the planet and organisms that live on it.
Olivier Gosselain (Univ. Libre de Bruxelles)
11:30 – 12:30 – Ashes and cement: technical memory of indigo dying in North Benin.
Durant la seconde moitié du 19e siècle et jusque dans les années 1970, la teinture à l’indigo a constitué une activité de première importance pour plusieurs localités de la rive droite du fleuve Niger, au Bénin. Il n’en subsiste aujourd’hui que quelques débris épars — amas de cendres et parois de cuves — dans les rares quartiers de teinturiers qui n’ont pas été réaffectés.
En 2011, lors d’une mission de recherches historiques et ethnographiques, je suis tombé par hasard sur un ancien site de teinturerie qu’un vieil habitant tentait de préserver pour « conserver le souvenir du travail des aïeux». M’ayant mis en rapport avec un vieil homme qui y avait travaillé, ce dernier a fourni une description étonnement précise de la chaîne opératoire, accompagnée d’informations détaillées sur les dimensions sociales et économiques de l’activité. C’est ainsi qu’a émergé un projet hybride : tenter une technologie comparée sur base unique de témoignages oraux.
Dans cet exposé, je présenterai les résultats de ce projet mené en 2012 et 2013 et montrerai comment l’évocation orale d’un univers disparu est à même de nous mener au cœur de la technique et d’éclairer une histoire sociale et culturelle particulièrement complexe.
Nathalie Ortar (LET-ENTPE, Lyon)
14 – 15h – To keep, to give, to sell or how to deal with objects in the Silicon Valley (USA).
San Francisco bay area households’ everyday routines were investigated in 2010-2011. The aim was to investigate routines related to sustainability. The interest in objects was raised by three observations. The first was the sight of open garages full of objects. The second was the number of garage sales and of networks and services giving access to second hands objects, and the third the attention given to exchange networks. This expression of the profusion of objects and of the difficulty in getting rid of things as well as a desire to carry on their life is paradoxical in a society dedicated to consumption as a way of life and invites the researcher to further investigate the status of things and wastes.
Morie Kaneko (Kyoto Univ.)
15 – 16h – Non-waste in a non-Western society: the Aari of southwestern Ethiopia.
This presentation considers the concept of waste held by the Aari of southwestern Ethiopia by analyzing food production and consumption and the lifecycle of craftwork in their lives. The concept of waste is examined in the following three settings: 1) the production and consumption of ensete (Ensete ventricosum); 2) the lifecycle of pot use; and 3) students’ used notebooks. The discussion in this presentation is based on data on ensete production and consumption collected in July 2012, data on the lifecycle of pot use collected for about 1.5 years between 1999 and 2001, and on interviews with 47 students conducted in March 2013.
There were three main findings. First, there is almost no appropriate concept of waste with the meaning of unnecessary and useless in the Aari language. In the process of ensete food production and consumption, the Aari call rotten food dakari, which means spoiled food and inappropriate behavior. They regard the sheaths and leaves of ensete as resources that make the soil fertile and place them in their home gardens. Second, if pots crack or break, the Aari repair them and use them differently, perhaps for holding coffee beans or as a plate to transport fire from a cooking stove in another house. Ground up pot fragments are also used for laundry soap or toothpaste. Women potters also collect pot fragments to mix with clay and make new pots. The Aari do not treat the pots that have no function as pots as waste, but use them differently and use them completely. Finally, most high school students who were interviewed kept their used notebooks since junior high school in a wooden box to review for tests. Notebooks from elementary school had been lost or used as toilet paper.
Basically, ensete and pots circulate in their ecosystem with no leftovers. The Aari use them and return them to the system using their knowledge and techniques, which are embedded in their socio-ecological environment and not recorded anywhere. Their behavior regarding the used notebooks from elementary school is similar to their behavior regarding local knowledge and techniques. In comparison, junior and high school students start learning the behavior of modern knowledge, such as writing down knowledge, accumulating it on paper, and then memorizing it. One head of household kept his children’s notebooks in a 100-kg sack for coffee beans. The paper was considered useless to the children. The notebooks represented modern knowledge, but through local knowledge the household head was at a loss for what to do with the sack in the corner of his house because it had come to a dead end.
Pierre Lemonnier (CREDO-AMU Marseille)
16 – 17h – Noise, traces or useful dross? Dead parts and living parts in action and in the imaginary ritual.
Be it in its very materiality or in the imaginary realm that goes with them, ritual actions are full of elements that the actors do not comment upon, that can be dismissed altogether or… that puzzle historians and anthropologists trying to document and understand their meaning and function. Are these ritual elements some kind of “dross” from a remote past, a necessary “background sound”, or auxiliary “ritemes” and “mythemes” put into play by a culture in the event of the loss or oblivion of some other ritual element? The paper will be based on two case studies: that of counter-intuitive actions in the imaginary world of European sorcery, and that of “useless” ritual actions during Anga male initiations.
Agnès Jeanjean (Univ. Nice)
9 – 10h – No waste? Garbage and the market.
Les déchets sont dans l’air du temps. La société générale, tout au moins en occident, place les questions relatives à leur traitement sur le devant de la scène, y compris la scène artistique. Dans le même mouvement, les chercheurs sont de plus en plus nombreux à se pencher sur les restes, les déchets, les confins. La valorisation du « recyclage », l’intérêt du marché envers les déchets, nous disent des intérêts économiques, les contradiction d’une société qui fait le choix de la « croissance ». Se profile aussi une aspiration : celle d’être sans reste. Que fait on disparaître au travers des restes recyclés, déniés confiés à d’autres, repoussés plus loin… et quels sont les individus, les gestes, les objets et les pensées qui dans le même mouvement chutent et sont déclassés ? Nous interrogerons les dimensions anthropologiques et symboliques de ces transformations.
Jamie Furniss (Univ. of Edinburgh)
10 – 11h – The Centrality of marginality in the global economy of recycling: Cairo waste collectors during the 2008 crisis.
Cairo’s informal sector waste collectors and recyclers (Zabbaleen) sell the inorganic materials they collect, such as plastic, metal and paper, through Zabbaleen and non-Zabbaleen middle-men to formal businesses that use them for manufacturing processes. The ultimate acquirers of these materials are mainly in Egypt but increasingly around the world, especially China. Thus, ‘marginal’ actors of the ‘informal economy’ in fact have Egyptian business partners who speak Chinese, communicate regularly by fax and internet with Chinese buyers, know the fluctuations in the prices of plastic (in US dollars) on the market in Shanghai, and complain about export tariffs on PET plastic imposed by Egyptian customs authorities. The globalization of the waste economy was perhaps most strikingly demonstrated during the economic crisis of 2008, when the Zabbaleen were a canary in the coal mine of the national economy: they were among the first to be affected by collapsing oil prices, which translated into decreasing plastics prices worldwide. This paper examines the impact of the 2008 economic crisis on the Zabbaleen. In addition to a qualitative description based on discussions and participant observation at the time, some data on the drops of different materials’ prices will be provided. These are completed with recent price data concerning plastics, collected during fieldwork in 2013.
Valérie Guillard, (CNRS-Paris Dauphine), Anne Monjaret, (CNRS-IIAC)
11 – 12h – Going astray: When our objects deviate from the path between wokplace and home.
Si nous nous intéressons plus généralement à la circulation quotidienne des objets entre le domicile et le bureau dans leur mouvement tant unilatéral que circulaire, ici nous avons choisi précisément de centrer notre attention sur leur sortie de piste, autrement dit, sur ces moments, ces circonstances qui viennent contrarier, voire interrompre leur trajectoire habituelle, qui les font dévier momentanément ou définitivement. Notre objectif est de questionner les tensions dans la circulation quotidienne d’objets : quelles sont les raisons (volontaires ou involontaires) qui provoquent les perturbations de la circulation, les bifurcations, les sorties définitives ? Quels sont les objets concernés ? Qu’est-ce qu’implique une sortie de piste ? Un changement de statut de l’objet s’opère-t-il ? Que deviennent les objets qui sortent ? Rentrent-ils de nouveau en piste ? Comment se réapproprie-t-on un objet qui a vécu une sortie de piste ? Quelle perte de sens de l’objet ou quelle requalification du sens ? En quoi cet état de fait nous révèle les relations que nous entretenons avec ces objets ordinaires, les manières de les extraire de nos vies ? Autant de questions que nous souhaiterions aborder dans le cadre de cette présentation et dont les résultats se fondent sur une enquête qualitative réalisée en tandem auprès d’hommes et femmes actifs, issus des couches socio-professionnelles moyennes et supérieures, travaillant dans le secteur tertiaire et habitant à Paris ou en Région parisienne.
Yann-Philippe Tastevin (Post-Doctorant Labex – LISST-CAS – Université de Toulouse)
14 – 15h – Out of use: Lead, batteries, lead and rickshaws.
Ainsi, je reviens de Khulna, une agglomération millionnaire, où l’usage de la voiture demeure marginal. Le Bangladesh est en effet un véritable conservatoire de tout ce qui s’invente et roule à trois roues depuis maintenant un demi-siècle. On y trouve sur la route tous les modèles existants, des plus anciens au plus récent, des plus artisanaux au plus sophistiqués, un paradis mécanique du montage et du remodelage. Mais le plus étonnant est l’arrivée en grand nombre de rickshaw propulsé par de petits moteurs électriques de 1000 W alimentée par des batteries… au plomb. Alors même que son succès commercial reste inexistant, on continue à prédire au « Nord » la croissance imminente de la voiture électrique. Alors qu’au « Sud », de nouveaux constructeurs électrifient massivement les technologies de transport dérivées de la bicyclette, l’autorickshaw renoue avec les origines automobiles. La batterie, ce composant simple et robuste, que l’on fabrique à partir de plomb, matière première valorisée que l’on récupère dans d’autres batteries hors d’usage… Ainsi, la prolifération rustique et circulaire d’un ensemble d’accumulateurs rechargeables, inventé il y a 150 ans par le français Gustave Planté questionne l’éternelle émergence de la voiture électrique… Entre l’Inde et la Chine, deux modèles de conquête économique mais aussi de conception technique se jouent dans la diffusion globale de l’autorickshaw qui met au défi l’universalité des grands modèles industriels automobiles.
Lucie Smolderen (Univ.Libre de Bruxelles)
15 – 16 h – The Remains of a Bygone Technical Activity: the Case of Spinning and Weaving in the Dendi (Benin).
My thesis project is devoted to the reconstitution and technical and historical analysis of the preindustrial textile activities of the Dendi (Benin), which disappeared approximately thirty years ago. From time to time, during the interviews I conducted with the ex-weavers and spinners of the region some « remains » of this phantom activity would emerge: an old crud-covered shuttle, a torn plastic bag containing a few spindles, an old piece of material that had been used for a scarecrow etc. These remains were not confined to the material world: the weaver’s dance and the whistling of the spinner also punctuated our discussions. These material, gestual and musical remains became good ways of linking up with techniques which have apparently ceased to exist. Firstly, they supply a concrete basis for the understanding of the techniques « as they were in the past ». Secondly, and more importantly, including these technical remains in our research encourages us not to limit ourselves to bygone techniques but to consider their disappearance as a process that still haunts the present.
Salvatore D’Onofrio (Univ de Palerme)
16 – 17h – Back to tools. What was at stake in the anthropology of techniques in Italy at the end of the seventies ?
Les expositions d’outils des années 1970 et le renouvellement muséographique qui en a suivi sont-ils à même de solliciter une réflexion au sujet des restes ? Que reste-t-il de nos outils du point de vue des avancées méthodologiques que leur traitement a imprimé à l’anthropologie ? Nous aborderons ces questions de manière non orthodoxe, en essayant de replacer les concepts que nous avions élaboré à l’époque (décomposition du processus de travail, schéma de l’agir technique ou tables paradigmatiques des outils) dans les contextes socio-émotionnels qui les ont générés. Un aperçu sur le traitement informatique des outils sera également proposé.
17 h – General debate with Suzanne de Cheveigné (directrice du Centre Norbert Elias)