Waste is a key category for understanding cultural value. It is not just the 'bad stuff' we dispose of; it is material we constantly struggle to redeem. Cultures seem to spend as much energy reclassifying negativity as they do on establishing the negative itself. The huge tertiary sector devoted to waste management converts garbage into money, while ecological movements continue to stress human values and 'the natural.' But the problems waste poses are never simply economic or environmental. The international contributors to this collection ask us to pause and consider the complex ways in which value is created and destroyed. Their diverse approaches of ethics, philosophy, cultural studies, and politics are at the forefront of a new field of 'ecohumanites.'
Chapter 1. Introduction: Cultural Economies of Waste
Chapter 2. Out of Australia
Chapter 3. Miasma
Chapter 4. Invidious Distinction: Waste Difference and Classy Stuff
Chapter 5. Down the Drain: Shit and the Politics of Disturbance
Chapter 6. Decolonising the Discourse of Environmental Knowledge in Settler Societies
Chapter 7. Psychic Waste: Freud, Fechner and the Principle of Constancy
Chapter 8. Hollywood's Pacific Junk: The Wreckage of Colonial History in Six Days and Seven Nights and Rapa Nui
Chapter 9. Trash as Archive, Trash as Enlightenment
Chapter 10. Devastation
Gay Hawkins is a senior lecturer in the School of Media and Communications, University of New South Wales, Sydney. Stephen Muecke is a professor of cultural studies at the University of Technology, Sydney.
"We often hear that culture and economy are intertwined, but this absorbing collection suggests that the neglected category of waste may be the most revealing link between them. Moving, unsettling, and deeply thought provoking, this is a must-read book forcultural theorists, political economists, and curious readers alike [...]"
– Meaghan Morris, Professor of Gender and Cultural Studies, University of Sydney
"In myriad ways, cultural studies is facing and avoiding the problems of value(s): work on the culture of economics and the economics of culture are only the first and most obvious signposts. If death is the key to understanding human life, perhaps waste is the key to understanding culture as the production of value. This collection will make you laugh and squirm, but most importantly, it will make you reflect on some of those still protected alcoves of your common sense. The essays are as diverse, intriguing, and, sometimes, disturbing as the trash that increasingly defines our milieu [...]"
– Lawrence Grossberg