Waste Theory & Discard Studies

Waste Theory & Discard Studies

Here’s a list of 40 important texts for studying Waste theory or discard studies (ordered by date published):

1.    Douglas, M. (1966) Purity and Danger: an analysis of concepts of pollution and taboo. Routledge.

2.    Thompson, M. (1979) Rubbish Theory: the creation and destruction of value. Oxford: Oxford University Press

3.    Appadurai, A. (1986) The Social life of things: commodities, in cultural perspective.

4.    Tanner, T. (1987) Scenes of Nature, Signs of Men. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

5.    Blumberg, L. and Gottlieb, R. (1989) War on Waste: Can America win its battle with garbage? Washington, DC: Island Press.

6.    Rathje, W. & Murphy, C. (1992) Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.

7.    Faber, D. (1993) Environment under Fire: Imperialism and the Ecological Crisis in Central America. New York: Monthly Review Press.

8.    Crooks, H. (1993) Giants of Garbage: The rise of the global waste industry and the politics of pollution control. Toronto: Lorimer.

9.    Watkins, E. (1993) Throwaways: Work Culture and Consumer Education. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

10. Alexander, J. (1993) In Defense of Garbage. Westport, Conn.: Praeger.

11. Hine, T. (1995) The Total Package: the secret history and hidden meanings of boxes, bottles, cans, and other persuasive containers. Toronto: Little, Brown and Company.

12. Bilitewski, B. (1997) Waste Management. New York: Springer.

13. Humphrey, K. (1998) Shelf Life: supermarkets and the changing cultures of consumption. Cambridge: Cambridge university press.

14. Clemons, J. (1998) Emerging from sewage and waste: a postmodern landscape. Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers, 60. 9-21.

15. Tammemagi, H. (1999) The Waste Crisis: Landfills, Incinerators, and the Search for a Sustainable Future. New York: Oxford University Press.

16. Cross, G. (2000) An All-American Century: why commercialism won in modern America. New York: Columbia Press.

17. Donohue, K. (2003) Freedom from want: American Liberalism and the idea of the consumer. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

18. Bauman, Z. (2004). Wasted Lives: Modernity and its outcasts. Cambridge: Polity press

19. Enger, M. (2004) Designing America’s waste landscape. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.

20. Houser, H. (2004) Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction. New York: Columbia University Press.

21. Melosi, M. (2005) Garbage in the cities: refuse reform and the environment. Pittsburg, PA: University of Pittsburg press.

22. Scanlan, John. (2005) On Garbage. London: Reaktion Books

23. Girling, R. (2005) Rubbish! Dirt on our hands and crisis ahead. London: Eden Project Books.

24. Royte, E. (2005) Garbage Land. Little Brown and Company, New York.

25. Hawkins, G. (2006) The Ethics of Waste: How we relate to rubbish. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

26. Brantlinger, Patrick & Higgins, Richard. (2006) Waste and Value: Thorstein Veblen and H.G. Wells. Criticism. 48:4. 453-475.

27. MacBride, S. (2008) The immortality of waste: depression era perspectives in the digital age. SubStance, 37(2). 71-77

28. Dauvergne, P. (2008) The Shadows of Consumption. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.

29. Beck, J. (2009) Dirty wars: landscape, power and waste in western American literature. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.

30. Ekbladh, D. (2010) The Great American Mission: Modernisation and Construction of an American World Order.

31. Pye, G. (2010) Trash Culture: Objects and Obsolescene in Cultural Perspective. Vol. 11. Oxford: Peter Lang.

32. Anderson, C. T. (2010) Sacred Waste: Ecology, Spirit and the American Garbage Poem. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. 17(1)

33. Foote, S. & Mazzolini, E. (2012) Histories of the Dustheap: waste, material cultures, social justice. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

34. Humes, E. (2013) Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash. London: Penguin Books.

35. Viney, W. (2014) Waste: A Philosophy of Things. London: Bloomsbury Academic

36. Morrison, S.S. (2015) The Literature of Waste: Material Ecopoetics and Ethical Matter. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

37. Reno, J. (2016) Waste Away – Working and Living with a North American Landfill. University of California Press, Oakland California

38. Spelman, E.V. (2016) Trash Talks: Revelations in the Rubbish. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

39. Dini, R. (2016) Consumerism, waste and re-use in twentieth century fiction. Palgrave.

40. Athanassakis, Y. (2017) Environmental Justice in Contemporary US Narratives. Routledge Environmental Humanities.

Waste Theory Book Covers


From Oil to Flesh: Crucifixion and recycling


Throughout the ages, there have been many interpretations of the crucifix, from more traditional representations of the Stations of the Cross to abstract artwork, film and literature. From Michelangelo and Raphael to Salvidor Dali and Marcus Reichert to Damien Hirst and even comic strips like “the coyote gospel”, images have become more and more abstract. But how many of these incorporate our modern ideas of recycling? It’s not probably two things you might put together, but thanks to the work of Gunther Von Hagen, it’s all I can think about today.

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