Sarah Elizabeth Newman
Grant TypeHunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Institutional AffiliationJames Madison U.
Grant numberGr. 9317
Approve DateOctober 4, 2016
Project TitleNewman, Dr. Sarah E., James Madison U., Harrisonburg, VA - To aid research and writing on 'Talking Trash: A History of Refuse in Mesoamerica' - Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship
Preliminary abstract: Talking Trash: A History of Refuse in Mesoamerica, explores changing perceptions and practices surrounding waste throughout Central America’s deep history. The book’s long-term, cross-cultural perspective challenges contemporary understandings of trash by highlighting alternative ways that people in the past conceptualized, experienced, and managed material and bodily wastes. Drawing on evidence from archaeology, material culture studies, anthropology, history, and environmental studies, Talking Trash details the culturally and historically specific ways that refuse could be a resource, discard was a form of production, and disposal kept objects present in indigenous Latin American traditions. Native perspectives clashed with those of Europeans, however, with long-term implications the ways waste is managed in Latin America and its ongoing associations with hierarchies of race and class. As contemporary issues of climate change and waste management loom large, Talking Trash argues that rather than focusing on modifying behaviors, perhaps we need to rethink refuse altogether.