GSA Environmental Studies Network
“The Metabolism of Cultures: Consumption, Waste, and Desire in the Ecological Humanities”
The anthropologist Mary Douglas noted in her landmark work Purity and Danger that social perceptions of endangerment from pollution or efforts to eliminate dirt or excrement rarely correlate directly with objective levels of environmental contamination. Attempts to regulate waste, she argued, were instead creative acts used to enforce particular moral codes, maintain cultural or political hierarchies, or atone for past sins. The GSA Environmental Studies Network invites papers for a series of panels on “The Metabolism of Cultures” that explore historical, literary, and ecological meanings of consumption, waste, and desire from a variety of disciplinary and methodological approaches. We welcome papers that examine narratives of scarcity and abundance, analyze shifting definitions of “waste” in German culture, conceptualize the poetics of dirt or the aesthetics of toxic landscapes, investigate the intersection of gender, race, and class with discourses of pollution or hygiene, or interrogate the dialectic of pleasure and guilt that has emerged in consumer and post-consumer societies. Please send a 250-word abstract byJanuary 31, 2014 to Thomas Lekan (lekan[at]sc.edu) or Katharina Gerstenberger (katharina.gerstenberger[at]utah.edu.