Robin Nagle’s TED talk: What I Discovered in New York City Trash

Very interesting, morally and ethically-charged presentation by Robin Nagle. She has been the anthropologist-in-residence at the Department of Sanitation in New York City since 2006, and she is the author of Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City, published in 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Review of Ian Hodder’s Entangled: An Archaeology of the Relationships between Humans and Things

ImageI have reviewed Ian Hodder’s new book on humans and things in latest issue of Critical Quarterly. It’s a fascinating book that makes an interesting contribution to all this talk of things. I have wondered how archaeologists like Hodder respond to the sway towards new materialities in the humanities. Hodder is often associated with post-processional archaeology which makes him an excellent intermediary between the practice of archaeological analysis and European philosophical traditions which tend to underpin Speculative Realism, object-orientated philosophies and ontologies.

Hodder argues that things have shaped us and given us discipline over time, working our bodies and cohering our actions. Things govern our behaviour and ‘this dependence draws humans in, sometimes seems to lock them in, to specific forms of behavior – a human behavior adjusted to, even at times regulated by the behavior of things’ (p.69). It is this dependence on things and dependence of things upon humans that underlies what Hodder calls ‘entanglement’ and allows it to unfurl into the past and future, the small and the all encompassing.  Subscribers to Critical Quarterly can read the full review here.

Welcoming Dr Will Viney to the Centre for Medical Humanities

Centre for Medical Humanities Blog

The Centre for Medical Humanities is delighted to welcome Dr Will Viney, who joins our research team as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Centre for Medical Humanities and Department of English Studies.

Will has a PhD in Cultural Studies and Humanities from The London Consortium, University of London (thesis title: “Waste Effects: Building, Writing and Collecting”), and degrees from the University of Durham and the University of Sussex.  His research monograph Waste: A Philosophy of Things is forthcoming from I.B. Tauris in November 2013. He is the author of the blog “Waste Effects: An investigation into the wastes of building, writing and collecting“.

Will’s work with the Centre for Medical Humanities will examine how twins have contributed to the formation of medical, theological, philosophical and psychoanalytic knowledge. Ranging from the extraordinary presence of twins in Indo-European and African myth and religion, to their inclusion in the emerging anatomical regimes…

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CFP: Trash @ Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies

Sussex Centre for Cultural Studies presents:


A one day postgraduate conference at the University of Sussex

Friday 14th September 2012

Trash operates as a physical and symbolic manifestation of consumer society and its associated debris; it celebrates the filthy, excessive and grotesque; and it expresses how power communicates and classifies abject bodies. It not only describes the devaluation of trash culture, but it also refers to the material practices and processes through which we deal with ‘waste’ in all its forms.

In this one day postgraduate conference we propose to rummage through the trash heap of history, art, media, culture, politics, and society in order to uncover new scholarly approaches and methods that continue to appropriate and recycle theories of trash.

We welcome papers from postgraduate researchers considering the decayed, disposed of, degraded and decried from a range of academic disciplines.

To coincide with TRASH at the University of Sussex the conference organisers will also be curating an evening of art, film and music in central Brighton on Thursday 13th September. The evening will be the welcome event for the conference and it will also provide the opportunity to engage with and network around the theme of trash outside of the academy.

We are seeking proposals for a range of contribution formats to be considered for either the conference or the evening event:

·         The following format will be considered for the one day conference at the University of Sussex on Friday 14th September:
20 minute paper presentations.
·         The following practise formats will be considered for the evening event in central Brighton on Thursday 13th September:
Short film, video art and animation.

Art, art installation, performance and photography.

Please send a Word document to by Monday 16th July 2012 containing the following information:

·         Your name, institution and contact information.
·         The format in which you wish to present your work (see above).
·         3-5 key words that indicate the main focus of your work.
·         A 400 word abstract detailing the content of your work.
·         A 100 word biography.

We also have two bursaries of £50 available to postgraduate students who will be travelling from outside Brighton and contributing to the conference. If you wish to apply for a bursary please attach a separate Word document containing a 200 word statement. Please explain how and why attending this conference will benefit your research and include an estimate of your costs.

Conference registration will open in July, please check the blog for details. The conference fees are £10 or £5 (students).



Twitter: @SCCS_

New article up on Material World – ‘Mark Dion and the Arts and Archaeologies of Waste’

I have a new article up on Material World, here. Material World is an interactive, online hub for contemporary debates, discussion, thinking and research centred on material and visual culture. It was founded by scholars working in the anthropology departments of University College London and New York University. 

The article explores the relationship between waste, archaeology and the sculptural work of Mark Dion. 


Storing Waste – a radio show on Resonance FM, Thursday 19th June, 7pm-8pm GMT

Storing Waste - radio show on Resonance FM, 19th June 2012

Details of a new series of The Thread. I have helped Andrea Vesentini produce an hour-long show that considers the storage of waste, specifically within the context of the 2008 Naples waste crisis. Contributors include Annamarie Cumiskey (investigative journalist), Geoff Andrews (Open University) and Ben Campkin (University College London).

On Completing My Ph.D

Yesterday I successfully defended my Ph.D thesis, with Professors Tim Ingold and Mark Currie serving as my examiners. I really didn’t know what to expect from my viva but I looked forward to talking to two people who were reading my work for the first time and in the form it was intended to be read. All sorts of issues were raised – about the relationship between objects and their constituting materials, the nature of surprise, the structures of contradiction that motivate my understanding of waste, the tenses and times of matter and its use and abandonment – and I’m very grateful that my examiners were thoroughly and enthusiastically critical.

Having devoted three years to making up my mind about waste, I’m glad to be moving on to other things. I hope to see what after effects can be found with these wastewords, meanwhile I continue to act as Assistant Editor at Pluto Press and Commissioning Editor at Pod Academy.