Burning down the House: Recycling Domesticity

Burning down the House: Recycling Domesticity

Burning down the House: Recycling Domesticity

Burning down the House: Recycling Domesticity


This cutting-edge collection of essays presents a cross-disciplinary account of domesticity, exploring the ways in which race, nationhood, global economics, gender, sexuality, & class shape domesticity in specific disciplinary discourses & in varied geographical-historical locations. Together, these essays invite us to confront the gaps & erasures in most academic & mainstream accounts of domesticity & to recognize domesticity as a manifestation of larger national & imperialistic projects.


These [houses] are now good only to be thrown away like old food cans.

--Theodore Adorno

My immediate and somewhat flippant response to Adorno's used-can dilemma is to urge recycling. In the west, recycling has become one of the prime late-twentieth-century means of responding to an overwhelming sense of a steady decline in the quality of (domestic) life. The recycling passion that has now gripped the United States is a result of the growing consciousness of the enormity of the amount of natural resources needed to sustain the high order of domestic consumption and to maintain the "basic" comforts of the average middle-class American home. But champions of recycling seem nowadays to promise not just a world with renewed resources for future generations but also an unscathed domesticity to match. What is promised to future generations as a by-product of responsible recycling (smart use of planetary resources) is continued domestic pleasures of an order currently enjoyed only in select circles--pleasures such as wood- burning fires, limitless biodegradable cleaning supplies, and recreational fishing. In a metaphorical sense, recycling has become the solution to the problem of dealing with a concept, domesticity, that still supplies inordinate amounts of pleasure even after its organizing logic has gone awry.

The pleasures of the domestic are so deeply entrenched as to seem "natural"--necessary to our physical and mental well-being, regardless of the . . .

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