Posts Tagged ‘garbology’

When garbology goes too far…

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Police in Sweden are on the lookout for a man who has been hiding in and on top of garbage trucks and filming sanitation workers. Not sure how they know, but officials say the man is sick, not an environmentalist or political trashie. Here’s hoping that if they do in fact bust him, a crazy Swedish documentary comes out of the confiscated footage.

Semi-related: I finally saw The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975. Oh, those Swedes.


Summer Reading List

Friday, July 6, 2012

Trash wonks, prepare for your dirty little hearts to explode. Discard Studies, the online hub for scholarly waste, just posted a meta reading list that should keep you occupied all summer and many seasons to come. It’s a compilation of syllabi from your favorite trashademics.

I can’t wait to dig through the course reading assignments from garbology classes taught at NYU, Evergreen, Johns Hopkins, UC Berkeley and other institutions for classes with amazing titles including: “The Joy of Garbage,” “Fetishist, Collector, Hoarder,” and “Interdisciplinary Approaches to Politics: Sex, Drugs, and Garbage.”

What a resource!

Introspective Trash

Friday, May 27, 2011

William Rathje at the University of Arizona founded the sociological discipline of garbology, which Wikipedia defines as follows:

[T]he study of (mostly modern) refuse and trash. As an academic discipline it was pioneered at the University of Arizona and long directed by William Rathje. The project started in 1973, originating from an idea of two students for a class project.It is a major source of information on the nature and changing patterns in modern refuse, and thereby, human society.

Or, as a New York Times headline on the topic put it: We Are What We Throw Away.

Recently, I’ve come across three examples (which, by the laws of lazy journalism = a trend) of personal studies in garbology.

Mac Premo‘s The Dumpster Project, covered here before, documents all the things the artist had stockpiled in his old studio before losing that space. Premo is now cataloging the items, some intensely personal (an early pair of his daughter’s shoes, the invitation to an old girlfriend’s party to christen her wheelchair), some just neat things he collected over the years (Persian smokes pictured here). Premo hopes to procure a dumpster and display all the documented stuff in said dumpster. The piece will either tour as an art exhibit or be left out for collection. Or both.

Mac Premo's The Dumpster Project

Writer Chappell Ellison is throwing away her stuff in an effort to live with less. Unconsumption covered her project, which consists of a blog where she posts photos of things she is throwing away, sometimes alongside their stories. The first person to comment on each item gets to keep it.

Chappell Ellison's Everything Must Go project

Writer Porochista Khakpour is selling relics of her past and each piece comes with a story on a tumblelog called One Woman’s Trash. “Trying to be people I was not was a theme of my 20s,” begins a post about a silk romper. The microblog is a for-profit venture presented as more stoop sale than art project, but it’s a creative exercise in garbology nonetheless.

Porochista Khakpour's One Woman's Trash

I once threw away all my journals. It was a rash decision I frequently question today. Somehow reading entries on these three sites picks at that scab. What I love about all of these efforts is the thought put into our collecting of things, the stories each item acquires — making it harder and harder to part with over time — and the discipline of each artist to actually get rid of it.

Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste

Monday, July 26, 2010

This intriguing CALL FOR ACADEMIC TRASH is making its way around the internets…


We are inviting academic editorial contributors to a new reference work on consumption and waste, or the social science of garbage.

Archaeologists and anthropologists have long studied artifacts of refuse from the distant past as a portal into ancient civilizations, but examining what we throw away today tells a story in real time and becomes an important and useful tool for academic study. Trash is studied by behavioral scientists who use data compiled from the exploration of dumpsters to better understand our modern society and culture. Why does the average American household send 470 pounds of uneaten food to the garbage can on an annual basis? How do different societies around the world cope with their garbage in these troubled environmental times? How does our trash give insight into our attitudes about gender, class, religion, and art? The Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste explores the topic across multiple disciplines within the social sciences and ranges further to include business, consumerism, environmentalism, and marketing. Each article ranges from 600 to 3,000 words. We are now making assignments due October 1, 2010.

This comprehensive project will be published by SAGE Reference and will be marketed to academic and public libraries as a print and digital product available to students via the library’s electronic services. The General Editor, who will be reviewing each submission to the project, is Dr. William Rathje, emeritus University of Arizona, the top scholar in the field.

If you are interested in contributing to this cutting-edge reference, it is a unique opportunity to contribute to the contemporary literature, redefining sociological issues in today’s terms. Moreover, it can be a notable publication addition to your CV/resume and broaden your publishing credits. SAGE Publications offers an honorarium ranging from SAGE book credits for smaller articles up to a free set of the printed product or access to the online product for contributions totaling 10,000 words or more.

The list of available articles is already prepared, and as a next step we will e-mail you the Article List (Excel file) from which you can select topics that best fit your expertise and interests. Additionally, Style and Submission Guidelines will be provided that detail article specifications.

If you would like to contribute to building a truly outstanding reference with the Encyclopedia of Consumption and Waste: The Social Science of Garbage, please contact me by the e-mail information below. Please provide a brief summary of your academic/publishing credentials in related issues.

Thanks very much.

Joseph K. Golson

Requiem for a Paper Bag

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

If you haven’t heard of FOUND Magazine, check out the publication’s charming origin myth. Incidentally, FOUND founder Davy Rothbart has a book coming out called Requiem for a Paper Bag. Like all books about trash, I want to read it. Stay tuned.

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