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Sonja Windmüller

Reading in the Refuse: Waste – Culture – Sciences 
Lecture on 3 June, 7 pm

Artists and also cultural scientists have developed an inquisitive interest for waste early on. Waste has always been seen and read as a sign or an expression of social conditions, morales and mentalities, and also as an indicator of collective ideas of worthiness and unworthiness. The lecture picks up on this observation and deals with the following questions: What is it that constitutes waste as an object of cultural analysis? What would such a cultural science approach regarding discarding and disposal practices look like? Which attitudes and expectations are linked with waste as a resource? How can cultural science act as a waste science and vice versa? These considerations have resulted from the speaker’s long-term empirical and theoretical occupation with the topic of waste, refuse and disposal.

»Waste is an urgent problem of modern societies and, at the same time, a likewise rich and fascinating field of research in the cultural sciences.«


Sonja Windmüller — Hamburg

is a qualified folklorist/cultural anthropologist living in Hamburg. She studied European ethnology / cultural anthropology and German studies in Marburg and Vienna and in 2002 attained her PhD with a thesis on waste and waste management technology at the end of the 19th and early 20th century (“Die Kehrseite der Dinge. Müll, Abfall, Wegwerfen als kulturwissenschaftliches Problem”, 2004). She has since taught at different universities and worked as a freelance cultural scientist, publishing on various topics, including waste. In her current research project, she is concerned with concepts of rhythm and rhythm-based practices in economics.