Abjection: A definition for discard studies

Wow! Take a look at this amazing find! Abjection at the intersection of Discard Studies. I must humbly admit, I am unfamiliar with Discard Studies, but I think I may have found a new interest.

Discard Studies

Art by Loren Crabbe, from the series “Purging Abjection.” Art by Loren Crabbe, from the series “Purging Abjection.”

By Mohammed Rafi Arefin
This post is part of the Discard Studies Compendium

Abjection describes a social and psychological process by which things like garbage, sewage, corpses and rotting food elicit powerful emotional responses like horror and disgust. While abjection theory has been used in various ways across the social sciences and humanities, it emerges from the psychoanalytic work of Julia Kristeva.

Drawing on a seminal text in Discard Studies, Mary Douglas’Purity and Danger (1966), Julia Kristeva’s foundational book The Powers of Horror(1982) develops the theory of abjection through literary, psychoanalytic, and anthropological works. Furthering the insight of Douglas that dirt is not an essential characteristic of objects but is produced through its ambiguity and its subsequent inability to be assimilated into existing socio-cultural categories and systems, Kristeva explains how the constant process of keeping the…

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