Subverting Consumerism : Reuse in an Accelerated World book cover
1st Edition

Subverting Consumerism
Reuse in an Accelerated World

ISBN 9780367665951
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

There is now a widespread interest in reuse in many domains, from opera houses built over old warehouses, to vintage clothes and everyday goods incorporating repurposed materials or parts. Despite its ubiquity, this extensive creative work is typically seen in narrowly environmental terms, as a means of reducing carbon, resource use or waste. However, as this volume shows, reuse also has aesthetic and cultural dimensions and a rich social currency, invoked to consciously subvert the accelerated consumer culture responsible for our unfolding environmental crisis.

In three parts, the essays in this book consider reuse in terms of values, aesthetics and meaning, its application in contemporary urban and spatial settings, and the revival of social practices involving a more conscious recourse to reuse and repair. These are bookended by the editors' essays: the first, on the significant relationship between reuse and technological and social acceleration evident in the surrounding consumer society; and the last, on the multiple forms of reuse deployed in a contemporary alternative building practice, and their contributions to presenting alternative ways of living in the world.

Challenging dominant understandings of ‘waste’ and ‘consumption’, Subverting Consumerism shows how reuse has become a means for many to creatively engage with the past, and to discover a continuity and sense of place eroded by the accelerative regimes of contemporary consumerism. Becoming a means of resistance, and offering a range of aesthetic, social and economic possibilities, reuse can be found to subvert and challenge the obsessive quest for the new found in contemporary consumerism.

Table of Contents


Robert Crocker and Keri Chiveralls

  1. Acceleration, Consumerism and Reuse: A Changing Paradigm

  2. Robert Crocker


  3. Using Art to Research Diverse Economies: Social Experiments in Re-Valuing Waste

  4. Max Liboiron

  5. Repurposing Cultural Heritages Collections: The Aesthetics and Meaning of Reuse

  6. Sally Butler

  7. The Devil’s Horns are Made from Toilet Rolls: Creating Costumes and Communities from ‘Junk’ Objects

  8. Claire Langsford


  9. Renew(ing) Newcastle and Complicating Capitalism: Contributory Economies, Artisanal Production and the DIY Occupation of Disused Commercial Space

  10. Cathy Smith

  11. Rapid Urbanisation and Wang Shu’s Architecture: The Use of Spolia and Vernacular Traditions in China

  12. Hing-Wah Chau

  13. Public Space for Changing Times: Reuse Strategies in transforming the ‘Wastelands’ of Cities

  14. Gini Lee


  15. Fix it: Barriers to Repair and Opportunities for Change

  16. Tim Cooper and Giuseppe Salvia

  17. ReDress: Maximising Component Reuse for Fashion

  18. Kim Fraser

  19. Composting as Everyday Alchemy: Producing Compost from Food Scraps in Twenty-First Century Urban Environments

  20. Vivienne Waller, Linkda Blackall and Peter Newton

  21. Reuse in Earthship Construction: Reclaiming the Past to Shape the Future

Keri Chiveralls

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Robert Crocker (DPhil.) teaches the history and theory of design and design for sustainability in the School of Art, Architecture and Design at the University of South Australia, where he is Deputy Director of the China Australia Centre for Sustainable Urban Development. His research is focused on consumption and its contributing role in our environmental crisis. His most recent book is Somebody Else’s Problem: Consumerism, Sustainability and Design (Greenleaf / Routledge 2016).

Keri Chiveralls (PhD.) is the Discipline Lead and Head of Program for the first full degree course offered in Permaculture at CQUniversity. Her research interests are in cultural and environmental anthropology, social movement studies and theories of social change. She received her doctorate in Anthropology/Social Inquiry at the University of Adelaide in 2008. Since then she has published book chapters, journal articles and presented at national and international conferences.