Intimate with your junk! A waste management experiment for a material world



The material turn in social theory has put the study of objects at the centre of any attempt to comprehend the production of social order, but only recently has their affectivity become an important issue. Even in Science and Technology Studies (STS) where objects have been approached as ‘actants’ that actively participate in the material composition and decomposition of various socio-natural orderings, their affectivity has seldom been explored. Diverse scholars from feminist and STS areas stand out for bringing to the fore the affective entanglements between humans and non-humans as constitutive of various ecologies of knowledge production. Our contribution here aims to pursue this further in relation to practices of maintenance, conservation of, and the discarding of everyday objects. We propose the notion of ‘intimate entanglements’ to explore how objects come to matter to us, what makes us care for them, and how they might become companions and our mutual interdependent supporters. Through an artistic research project called ‘Objections’, we asked participants to donate discarded everyday objects and interrogated them about their reasons for keeping, and the conditions under which they chose to keep and maintain, certain objects, while discarding others. We hoped that the notion of intimate entanglements would enable us to approach various ‘objectual’ biographies as stories of companionship and becoming with these objects, where the self is accounted for as a figure that holds and is affected by encounters with the multiple. The consequences that this material shift may have for the political ecology of waste and maintenance studies will be explored in this article, which promises to elucidate some of the ways that waste management systems operate today and perhaps suggest some alternatives.


Callén Moreu, B., & López Gómez, D. (2019). Intimate with your junk! A waste management experiment for a material world. The Sociological Review67(2), 318–339.