Monthly Archives: December 2013

Videos from Robin Nagle’s “Great New Books” Event

Hello all,
In case you missed our director, Robin Nagle, discussing her new book at the Humanities Initiative last week, you can check out some video! See clips, or the full talk, below:
“What does the future of waste management and recycling look like?”:
“How does the NYC Dept of Sanitation handle snow removal?”:
“What is the vision for a Museum of Sanitation and Sustainability?:

New Draper Spring Course!

Draperites! Our fearless leader, Robin Nagle, will be teaching the below course this spring. Interested students should email Robert Dimit ( for approval.


Garbage in Gotham: The Anthropology of Trash
Robin Nagle
Draper Program / Anthropology
Spring 2014 / Wednesdays, 6:20 – 8:20
Garbage is understood as a practical problem, but this course also considers values, traditions, and cultural assumptions inherent in the notion of “trash.” How is the material object called “garbage” created, perceived, processed, ignored? What are the economics of garbage in Gotham more than a decade after the city’s last landfill closed? What are the social assumptions that allow garbage to be an acceptable, even inevitable part of daily life?
The class starts with readings that propose more inclusive parameters for authoritative knowledge so that waste in general, and garbage in particular, might find a place in academic discourse. We then look at ideas of private property and value imparted to material objects and consider how such measures are inverted in the process of creating trash. Readings move to anthropologists who have studied distinctions between the sacred and the profane. We include philosophies and histories of waste and worth. We step into contemporary conversations about trash through several considerations, including the gendering of both domestic and municipal trash management, the history of garbage handling in various times and places, the relationship between garbage and consumption, the labors of waste (who exactly is responsible for taking away the trash?), garbage archaeology, and the ways in which solid waste and related industrial processes shape landscape — among many other themes.

CFP: The Crypt(ic) – Institute for Comparative Literature and Society – Columbia University – Annual Graduate Student Conference – 3/29/14

Call for papers: The Crypt(ic)

Institute for Comparative Literature and Society – Annual Graduate Student Conference

Columbia University, New York

March 29, 2014

Keynote speaker: To be confirmed

“The distortion of a text resembles a murder: the difficulty is not in perpetrating the deed, but in getting rid of its traces.”

-Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism

The architectural crypt is the site of sacred relics situated outside of the space of religious practice. It is the foundation that is permanently hidden from view, its animating sanctity alien to the rituals of worship that it legitimates. Exegesis begins with a death that is the crypt of writing. For Freud, this distortion of text is both a transformation and a displacement: the transformation of lived memory into a documentary apparatus and its displacement to a site of repetition and reproduction. What escapes the bottleneck of the signifier is rendered spectral – a ghostly presence haunting the regimes of meaning.

The Crypt(ic) proposes to explore the spaces rendered obscure by regimes of signification, yet constitutive of both the content and the delimitation of meaning. The social and political articulate this relationship. For Marx, there is no value without surplus and no labor without estrangement; the obscure precedes and delineates its normative condition. The categories of (non-surplus) value and (unalienated) labor are the particular, perhaps illusory, conditions of a cryptic generality. Likewise, the political as the contestation of power is obscured from politics as the instantiation of power. A mind trained in the globalized humanities towards reading the (social) text of the past and of our own time can try to break the code that conceals the crypt(ic) from plain view, perhaps putting it in a position where it itself encrypts again: the question remains how to wrestle with this double bind in an ever-unfinished attempt to change its course, to put it to work.

We welcome papers that explore obscurity, estrangement, concealment, and displacement across the humanities and the social sciences. To consider conditions in which the hidden precedes the particular necessarily disrupts disciplinary boundaries. Papers might consider the constitution of “the other” within the construction of normativity; practices of the archive or of digitalization within the humanities; alienation and estrangement in political, economic, and social theory; the uncanny, the occult, and the monstrous in art and literature; subalternity as conditioned by the history of (post)coloniality and globality; the (in)visibility of the race, class, and (heteronormative) gender lines; repression, abreaction, and parapraxis in psychoanalytic theory; or the role of chaos or the abyss in metaphysics and epistemology. We likewise welcome discussion of the hidden or obscure in contemporary theory such as, but not limited to, Ranciere’s Dissensus, Castoriadis and Lefort’s notions of the political, Derrida’s Parergon, Deleuze’s Body without Organs, or recent reassessments of Fanon and Beauvoir.


Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words to by January 15, 2014.

The Crypt(ic)_Columbia ICLS 2014_CFP.pdf

Reminder! Thesis Deadline and Celebratory Party, Mon 12/16

Good morning Draperites,
We just wanted to remind everyone that Monday, December 16 is a big day! All fall semester theses must be turned in, with supporting documents.
And, we will be having our End-of-Semester Party, from 5 – 8 pm. Drinks and food will be served. Mark your calendars!

Anamesa Launch Party – Thursday Dec. 12th

Hello, Draperites!
Please join Anamesa on Thursday, Dec. 12th, at 8pm for the launch of our fall issue!
Location: Think Coffee, 248 Mercer Street
Date/Time: Thursday, Dec. 12th, starting at 8pm
Anamesa will be treating all guests to a drink (coffee, beer, etc.) of their choice.
So, take a break from studying and paper writing to come hear poets and writers read their work, celebrate the end of the semester, and pick up a free copy of the Fall 2013 issue!
We hope to see everyone there!
– the Anamesa team