1st Edition

The Temporalities of Waste Out of Sight, Out of Time

Edited By Fiona Allon, Ruth Barcan, Karma Eddison-Cogan Copyright 2021
    286 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    286 Pages 18 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    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



    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.