Call for Proposals: Workshop “Uncanny Futures: Speculative Ecologies of Waste” (15.–16.03.2018, Bremen/Delmenhorst)

The workshop “Uncanny Futures: Speculative Ecologies of Waste” will take place on March 15 and 16, 2018 in Bremen/Delmenhorst. The workshop is part of the research project Knowing the Seas as Naturecultures.

In recent years waste has become an increasingly contemplated issue in the humanities and social sciences, as made evident by a plethora of related conferences and an increasing number of books, edited issues, volumes etc. (i.e. for the German-speaking context: Kersten 2016 and Lewe et al. 2016). What counts as waste is highly contested and not evident at all. Dependent on both attributions and allocations as well as material properties, nearly everything can turn into waste and back into something of use. Building upon that broad consensus, we want to use waste as an entry point to ask more encompassing questions, pointing to fundamental issues at stake. In this way, waste, or rather: litter, garbage, debris might serve as a lens to zoom into past_ current_ future issues and questions of life in the Anthropocene: How can we make decisions when faced with uncertainty (Murphy 2006)? How does dirt and pollution challenge the concept of reversibility? How to cope with not knowing how different materials behave in the future (Hird 2012), e.g. atmospheric fallout of polyester fibres? What are the consequences of “burying & forgetting” wastes (especially harmful refuses), respectively of maintaining their memory? How do we rethink environmentalism without playing off the environment against waste? How is it that ideas of pollution change over time “from ‘matter out of place’ (Douglas) to allowable limits” (Liboiron 2016)? How can we responsibly challenge recycling as a panacea solving all waste problems to come? And how does recycling serve to de-politicize the handling of waste through pushing individual responsibilities? How do waste and affiliated practices challenge ideas of linearity (Lepawsky and Mather 2011)? Finally, what are the roles of sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff and Kim 2015) in handling waste, such as cleaning up large amounts of ocean plastics? And how can we link these projects to trans/national efforts of managing and regulating waste and its related issues?

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2017.

For more information, check the full Call for Proposals.