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Waste and its disguises: technologies of (un)knowing

Alexander, Catherine and O’Hare, Patrick (2020) 'Waste and its disguises: technologies of (un)knowing.', Ethnos : journal of anthropology. .


The introduction to this special issue starts with a brief thematisation of the key theoretical interventions in the anthropology of waste in order to situate our own contribution. We follow this by discussing, and adding to the recent anthropology and sociology of ignorance and not knowing, before turning to the intersections between waste and ignorance, thinking through how we and other scholars have theorised ways of deflecting attention away from wastes, whether they are lands, material or human bodies. We broadly categorise these technologies of deflection and unknowing into ‘spatial’, ‘temporal’, ‘epistemological’, ‘calculative’ and ‘rhetorical’. Specific techniques within these categories serve to eclipse other ways of knowing (i.e. the sensory, affective aspects of waste (e)valuation) and often depoliticise decisions concerning wastes, places, materials, people and their livelihoods.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:28 April 2020
Date of first online publication:30 July 2020
Date first made open access:12 August 2020

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