EXTENDED DEADLINE UNTIL 15 APRIL 2021 : CfP "Waste Now! Histories and Contemporalities of Discards "  Workshop and Edited Volume Publication Project 

Co-organized by the Center for the History of Global Development, Shanghai University, China and the University of Helsinki Environmental Humanities Hub

Human waste generation has increased exponentially during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and is projected to rise even further in the foreseeable future. A combination of a fourfold increase in global population, unprecedented increases in wealth and consumption, urbanization, and changing purchasing habits and a shift towards the use of single-use and disposable items. Originating in the United States, these changes have spread around the world, and some projections estimate that global solid-waste generation rates will exceed 11 million tonnes per day by the year 2100, with the areas of high waste generation shifting from OECD countries to Asia and subsequently to Southern Africa as people in these areas become wealthier and more urbanized. These transformations have had dramatic environmental consequences and have been identified by the scientific community as some of the main driving factors behind anthropogenic climate change and the global environmental crisis. 

While a growing body of literature has studied the phenomenon in Europe and North America, the environmentally focused social sciences know little on the global history of waste and discards as well as the continuities and interconnectivities of the past and present of garbage in non-Western societies. 

This workshop and a subsequent edited book publication project with a reputable global academic press will look into and analyze the various past and current dynamics of the many forms and aspects of garbage globally, with a focus on areas and countries outside of the First World. 

In this vein, we invite contributions that combine conceptual considerations with practical or empirical data. We particularly welcome discussions of challenges that go beyond disciplines, including approaches from history, sociology, material studies, environmental humanities, geography, anthropology and other disciplines. Papers co-authored by scholars and practitioners are also encouraged. Academic researchers are invited to submit proposals, as are researcher-practitioners, involved stakeholders, or actors holding other types of para-academic engagement with waste. Editors welcome proposals tackling all social and cultural aspects of waste, especially those related to:


food waste



nuclear waste 


solid waste

toxic waste

waste dumps

Submissions should include a 300 words abstract and short author CV and should be sent by April 15 to editors irisborowy@shu.edu.cn  and viktor.pal@helsinki.fi 

Contributors are expected to present their draft papers at a ZOOM (online) workshop organized jointly by the Center for the History of Global Development at Shanghai University, China and University of Helsinki Environmental Humanities Hub, Finland on 9-10 June 2021. Final manuscript submissions to book editors are expected by October 2021, with submission to press in April 2022.   

Further Suggested Readings: 

Cross, Gary. An All-Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Donohue, Kathleen G. Freedom From Want: American Liberalism and the Idea of the Consumer. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003.

Doron, Assa, and Robin Jeffrey, Waste of a Nation: Garbage and Growth in India. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2018. 

Gille, Zsuzsa, From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History: The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007.

Landsberger, Stefan, Beijing Garbage. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press 2019.

Melosi, Martin V. The Sanitary City: Urban Infrastructure in America From Colonial Times to Present. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000.

Minter, Adam, Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade. New York: Bloomsburgy Press, 2014.

Rogers, Heather. Gone Tomorrow: The Hidden Life of Garbage. New York: New Press, 2005.

Strasser, Susan. Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash. New York: Metropolitan Books Henry Holt, 1999. 

Strasser, Susan, Charles McGovern, and Matthias Judt, eds. Getting and Spending: European and American Consumer Societies in the Twentieth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Tarr, Joel A. The Search for the Ultimate Sink: Urban Pollution in Historical Perspective. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press, 1996.


Image used with permission (www.fortepan.hu)