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Waste 2018 : OLH Special Collections – Call for Articles: 'Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion'


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Call For Papers

OLH Special Collections – Call for Articles:
Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion

Waste, whether municipal, hazardous, biomedical, or contaminate, is receiving increasing attention both academically and politically. A drive for improved education around waste management is visible at national and community levels, while the media is brim-full of reports that shed light onto the complex global challenges of pollution, toxicity and ongoing environmental damage. ‘Disposable populations’ also frequent the news, with anti-refugee, anti-immigration and anti-globalization sentiments increasingly visible across Europe and America. Within academia, meanwhile, there is a growing and nuanced study of what waste can mean. Moving away from waste studies at resource and value level, academia now considers waste in its various representations as engaging with the temporal, moral, geographic, economic, and artistic.

This special collection entitled Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion will make visible the untold story of waste by exploring its representations, both material and metaphorical, within contemporary culture. Calling on related discourses from the arts, social sciences, medical humanities and beyond, Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion will bring together a diverse collection of quality articles on a (waste) matter that impacts and implicates us all, and will be made readily available to a wide audience through open access publishing.

This collection has been inspired by the funded conference of the same name hosted at Birkbeck College, University of London in September 2017. The conference’s objectives were to unite a diverse mix of academics, artists and industry experts to identify and interrogate representations of waste in its material, symbolic and human forms. The event offered three keynote papers from leaders in the field – Professor Esther Leslie, Dr Leo Mellor, and Dr Rachele Dini – as well as three panels on the broad themes of human waste, waste management, and recycling waste in the visual arts. Two art installations were also displayed on the day by artists Uma Breakdown and Dani Ploeger. It is the intention that this special collection will further expand the vibrant interdisciplinary dialogue that was established at the event in September.

Submission topics for this special collection may include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Literatures of waste (e.g. fiction about waste, recycling, printing)
• Eco-criticism (e.g. exploration of the Anthropocene)
• Pollution and toxicity (e.g. physical / metaphorical, environmental, social)
• Junk, dirt and rubbish (e.g. the abject, hygiene, creation of)
• Decomposition and decay (e.g. illness, corpses, physical ‘wasting’)
• The temporality of waste (e.g. ‘wasting time’, aging and depletion)
• The geography of waste (e.g. LULUs, derelict spaces, wastelands)
• Human waste / Wasted humans (e.g. bodily matter, biopolitics of disposability)
• Petrocultures and industrial waste (e.g. extraction, environmental damage of)
• Economies of waste (e.g. commodification, the cost of waste, disposal industries).

Research articles should be approximately 8000 words in length, including references and a short bibliography. Submissions should comprise of:
• Abstract (250 words)
• Full-length article (8000 words)
• Author information (short biographical statement of 200 words)

The deadline for abstract submission is Tuesday, April 3rd 2018.
Please email abstracts plus a short bio to
Selected papers will be informed within one month of the abstract deadline. The deadline for full-length articles will be Monday, August 6th 2018.

The special collection, edited by Dr Grace Halden and Alice Burks, is to be published in the Open Library of Humanities (OLH) (ISSN 2056-6700). The OLH is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-funded open-access journal with a strong emphasis on quality peer review and a prestigious academic steering board. Unlike some open-access publications, the OLH has no author-facing charges and is instead financially supported by an international consortium of libraries.

Submissions of selected papers should be made online at: in accordance with the author guidelines and clearly marking the entry as [“Waste: Papers on Disposability, Decay, and Depletion” SPECIAL COLLECTION]. This can be found in the drop-down menu on the Article Details page, under ‘Section’. Submissions will then undergo a double-blind peer- review process. Authors will be notified of the outcome as soon as reports are received.

To learn more about the Open Library of Humanities please visit:

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