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Politics and production of waste

Call for paper for issue 180-181 of the Journal des anthropologues

Version française

Coordination : Sophie Accolas, Catherine Deschamps, Agnès Jeanjean, Philippe Rosini

Politics of waste

This thematic issue of the Journal des Anthropologues considers waste from the perspective of a critical and political anthropology, focusing on its production and its material and ideational dimensions. Recycling, circular economy, waste circulations (Cirelli, Florin 2015), and the geopolitical issues they raise generate many questions (Anstett, Ortar 2015; Benelli, Corteel et al. 2017). However, this is not the approach we will privilege here. With negative and relative value (Thomson 1979), products of abandonment, separation, and rejection, waste, when considered from its materiality, refers to modes of consumption, production, attachment mechanisms, and forms of ownership that will be explored through grounded ethnographies. Authors will pay attention to the social positions, social and political relationships that are articulated with waste, contribute to defining them, and consequently to producing them. Through various contributions, the thematic dossier will deploy a comparative perspective and present varied political, cultural, and economic contexts. Three axes will be privileged.

  1. A first axis, rather epistemological, will focus on the constitution of the field of discards studies (Scanlan 2005); its history and its context of emergence, geopolitical perspectives are welcome. Long neglected by our disciplines, waste has been in the spotlight for the past twenty years. This phenomenon will be questioned, particularly regarding the social sciences and humanities, anthropology, political ecology, and postcolonial studies. Communications may also question the coupling of waste/morality and its political dimensions. Questions related to waste, the perspectives on these objects are often moralized, what about approaches in social sciences, for example?

  2. Considering waste and its production obviously leads to addressing our contemporary societies from their reverse side (Latouche 1972), from what they reject or produce in excess. Thus, waste produced by bureaucratization, digitization, or even innovations of all kinds, including in areas related to sustainable development, energy (Rosini 2020) can be examined. It will be about understanding what waste these phenomena produce (Jeanjean 2023). The rejections resulting from productivist transformations and processes of obsolescence affecting our professions, activities, and institutions will also be addressed.

  3. The third axis may bring together contributions focusing on abandonment, separation (successions following mourning, different ways of discarding, giving away, abandoning). The aim will be to privilege the ethnographic approach and to pay attention to gestures, temporalities, processes engaged when separating or discarding. Different situations and scales can be presented and analyzed. Here, the production of waste, ethnographic attention will lead to questioning attachment, ownership, transmission in other words, the nature of the relationships maintained with artifacts within more or less consumerist and capitalist societies.

Terms of submission

Article proposals should include a title, 5 keywords, and an abstract (between 2,500 and 4,000 characters). They should include the names and first names of the authors, their status and affiliation, as well as their email address.

They should be sent to the coordinators of this issue as well as to the JDA secretariat:;;;;


Deadline for submission for paper proposals: June 1, 2024.

Response to proposals: early July 2024.

Submission of articles in French or English: October 15, 2024.

They should not exceed 32,000 characters including spaces and should follow the formatting guidelines of the JDA. They should be accompanied by a title in French and English, an abstract in French and English (maximum 10 lines for each abstract), and 5 keywords in French and English.

Expected publication: June 2025.


To continue to exist and be able to publish both non-tenured and tenured researchers, beginners as well as confirmed ones, the Journal des anthropologues needs “paper” and online sales. Therefore, there is a two-year “embargo” before the articles published in our journal become freely available online.


ANSTETT Elisabeth et ORTAR Nathalie, 2015, La deuxième vie des objets. Recyclage et récupération dans les sociétés contemporaines, Petra, Paris.

BENELLI Natalie, Corteel Delphine et al., 2017, Que faire des restes ? Le réemploi dans les sociétés d’accumulation, Paris, Presses de science po, Paris.

CIRELLI Claudia et FLORIN Bénédicte, 2015, Sociétés urbaines et déchets, Éclairages internationaux, Tours, Presses Universitaires François Rabelais.

DEBARY Octave et GABEL Philippe, 2010, “Seconde main et deuxième vie. Objets, souvenirs 223 et photographies”, Mélanges de la casa de Velázquez n° 40-1: 123-142.

JEANJEAN Agnès, 2023 “Les effets idéologiques du management et des écrits organisationnels sur le travail, les travailleurs et au-delà”, In M. Sélim Devenir en régime pandémique, Paris, L’Harmattan.

LATOUCHE Serge, 1972, “Le revers de la production : éléments pour une approche nouvelle des mythes et des réalités de la pollution”, Traverse n° 12 (t 2): 85-100.

ROSINI Philippe, 2020, “La mémoire lacunaire du nucléaire. Transmission des savoirs lors d’opérations de démantèlement et de reprise des déchets anciens”, Socio Anthropologie, v° 40

SCANLAN John, 2005, On Garbage, Londres, Réaktion Books.

THOMSON Michael, 1979, Rubbish Théorie. The creation and destruction of value, Oxford, Oxford University press.

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