The Temporalities of Waste : Out of Sight, Out of Time book cover
1st Edition

The Temporalities of Waste
Out of Sight, Out of Time

ISBN 9780367321796
Published October 30, 2020 by Routledge
286 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book investigates the complex and unpredictable temporalities of waste. Reflecting on waste in the context of sustainability, materiality, social practices, subjectivity and environmental challenges, the book covers a wide range of settings, from the municipal garbage crisis in Beirut, to food rescue campaigns in Hong Kong and the toxic by-products of computer chip production in Silicon Valley.

Waste is one of the most pressing issues of the day, central to environmental challenges and the development of healthier and more sustainable futures. The emergence of the new field of discard studies, in addition to expanding research across other disciplines within the social sciences, is testament to the centrality of waste as a crucial social, material and cultural problem and to the need for multi- and transdisciplinary approaches like those provided in this volume. This edited collection seeks to develop a framework that understands the material properties of different kinds of waste, not as fixed, stable or singular but asdynamic, relational and often invisible. It brings together new and cutting-edge research on the temporalities of waste by a diverse range of international authors. Collectively, this research presents a persuasive argument about the need to give more credence to the capacities of waste to provoke us in materially and temporally complex ways, especially those substances that complicate our understandings of life as bounded duration.

This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of the environmental humanities, cultural studies, anthropology and human geography.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of contributors



Myra J. Hird


Out of joint: the time of waste

Fiona Allon, Ruth Barcan and Karma Eddison-Cogan

Part 1: Speed and Slowness

  1. Open Crowd: just-in-time food rescue
  2. Daisy Tam

  3. Fridges and food waste: an ethnography of freshness
  4. Rebecca Campbell and Gordon Waitt

  5. Chip, body, earth: toxic temporalities of Intel Processor production
  6. Luke Munn

    Part 2: Bureaucratic time

  7. Bio-political temporalities of waste and the municipal collection schedule in the United States
  8. Raysa Martinez Kruger

  9. Housing waste in remote Indigenous Australia
  10. Liam Grealy and Tess Lea

  11. The imaginaries of Beirut’s ‘invisible’ solid waste: exploring walls as temporal pauses amidst the Beirut garbage crisis
  12. Christine Mady

    Part 3: Disposability and persistence

  13. "All of them had been forgotten": the temporality of wasted life in contemporary Arab fiction
  14. Tasnim Qutait

  15. Lingering matter: materialities, temporalities and everyday forms of waste
  16. Elyse Stanes

  17. The landfill paradox: reflections on the temporalities of waste
  18. Yusif Idies

    Part 4: Long durée and intergenerational time

  19. The waste of time
  20. Elizabeth Graham, Dan Evans and Lindsay Duncan

  21. Crip Time and the toxic body: water, waste and the autobiographical self
  22. Ally Day

  23. Wasting seas: oceanic time and temporalities
  24. Elspeth Probyn

    Part 5: Collisions and multiplicity

  25. Today’s waste is tomorrow’s future: on the temporalities of two post-nuclear sites
  26. Aleksandra Brylska

  27. Toxic transmogrification: Rare Earthenware as junk art
  28. Sabine LeBel

  29. Crunch time: temporalities of scrap metal collection
  30. Steven Kohm and Kevin Walby

    Part 6: Revivals and returns

  31. New temporalities of everyday life in Australian suburbia: cultural and material economies of hard rubbish reuse
  32. Tania Lewis, Rowan Wilken and Frédéric Rauturier

  33. Temporal cycles of waste management in Southern African Indigenous societies

          Soul Shava and Rob O’Donoghue


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Fiona Allon is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney and an affiliate of the Sydney Environment Institute. Ruth Barcan is Associate Professor in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney and a Sydney Environment Institute Key Researcher. Karma Eddison-Cogan is a PhD candidate in the Department of Gender and Cultural Studies at the University of Sydney.