On Thursday 30 November, WasteMatters (ERC) and The Meanings and Workings of the Gift (Kone Foundation) are organising the seminar Displaced Gifts, in collaboration with the Relational Studies Hub (RS Hub). The event takes place between 11:00 and 13:30 at the City centre campus of Tampere University, in room Linna K118.
We all give and receive gifts and tend to think of the rituals of gift exchange as both ubiquitous and pleasing. But what happens when the usual traffic of the modern gift from the shop to the household becomes disrupted? If, for example, the gift comes directly from the bin or dumpster starting a new lifecycle? Or if we imagine an even more radical displacement by locating the gift on the intracorporeal rather than extracorporeal level – for example, thinking of a virus as a gift entangled with our body without being intentionally given or received? Finally, we ask in the event how inter- and meta-disciplinary displacements (between anthropology and biophilosophy, gift studies and waste studies, or between scholarship and art) may disrupt conventions and taken-for-granted modes of gift theory as well as academic knowledge production.
In the event, we will have four presentations followed by a Q&A and a general discussion:
Olli Pyyhtinen: Displacements between gift, poison, and waste: bringing art and scholarship into dialogue
Alexandra Urakova: No-Free Gift? Displacement, Dispossession, and Givenness of Waste in the Toy World
Francisco Martinez: Gifts in the Shadows: Offerings Stored Between Past and Future
Margrit Shildrick: Viral Gifts or a Waste of Life
Olli Pyyhtinen is Professor of Sociology at Tampere University and the PI of both projects. His research intersects social theory, philosophy, science and technology studies, economic sociology, and the study of art, and he is the author of for example More-than-Human Sociology (2015), The Gift and Its Paradoxes (2014), The Simmelian Legacy: A Science of Relations (2018) and Simmel and the Social (2010), and co-author of Disruptive Tourism and its Untidy Guests (2014) and Tervetuloa jäteyhteiskuntaan! (2019; ‘Welcome to the Society of Waste!’).
Alexandra Urakova, docent in North-American Studies at the University of Helsinki and visiting researcher at the Tampere University, is a literary scholar specialising in nineteenth-century American and comparative literature and cultural anthropology. Her recent publications –Dangerous Giving in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (2022) and The Dangers of Gifts from Antiquity to the Digital Age (co-edited with Tracey A. Sowerby and Tudor Sala, 2023) – explore the dark side of gift exchange in literature and beyond. Her current research focuses on the meanings of the gift in modernity and postmodernity, from insipient theories of gifting to the language of philanthropy and academic grants.
Francisco Martínez is an anthropologist dealing with contemporary issues of material culture through ethnographic experiments. Currently he works as a postdoctoral researcher at WasteMatters and convenes the Collabotary for Ethnographic Experimentation (EASA Network). In 2018, he was awarded with the Early Career Prize of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. Francisco has published several books, including Remains of the Socviet Past in Estonia (UCL Press, 2018); Repair, Brokenness, Breakthrough (Berghahn, 2019); and Ethnographic Experiments with Artists, Designers and Boundary Objects (UCL Press, 2021). Martinez has also curated various exhibitions.
Margrit Shildrick, Guest Professor of Gender and Knowledge Production at Stockholm University, is known for her research covering postmodern feminist theory, bioethics, critical disability studies, body theory and posthumanism. Her most recent publication – Visceral Prostheses: Somatechnics and Posthuman Embodiment(2022) – traces the significance of the biophilosophical and embodied conjunction of microchimerism, immunology and corporeal anomaly. She is currently doing research for a collaborative project which addresses the gift relation as one of posthumanist entanglement, not exchange.