Josh Reno
  • Male
  • Binghamton, NY
  • United States
Share on Facebook

Josh Reno's Friends

  • changkyu lee
  • Jacobson Zeng
  • Vinit Gupta
  • Melania Calestani
  • mustafa arıkan
  • David Graeber
  • Bo Wang
  • Carlos Eirol
  • Dimitris Dalakoglou
  • Lucy Norris
  • Elizabeth Saleh
  • Jyoti Naylor
  • Sarah Hill
  • LIviaFilotico
  • Jane Dickson

Josh Reno's Groups

Josh Reno's Discussions

Placing boundaries around the human . . .
18 Replies

Started this discussion. Last reply by John McCreery Jan 3, 2011.



Profile Information

Full Name (no screen names or handles)
Josh Reno
School/Organization/Current anthropological attachment
Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University

Research Projects

My diverse research interests are linked by a fascination with materials and devices that become sites of social controversy and creativity, particularly those technologies, both wondrous and humble, which are designed to cope with waste, climate change, disease and disability.

Most of my research has focused on ‘mass waste’, a particular material associated with liberal governance and the systematic redistribution of effluent for the sake of health and order. Mass waste thus mediates between forms of permanence and impermanence—the preservation of built environments and their inhabitants, and the elimination of the unstable and transient elements they shed. I have explored mass waste as both a market product and a political technique: first, the controversial growth of landfills and trans-boundary waste trafficking in the Great Lakes region of North America and, more recently, the techno-politics of transforming waste into a sustainable resource and solution to climate change in the UK.

I received my PhD in Socio-cultural Anthropology in 2008 from the University of Michigan based on my Dissertation, "Out of Place,." It explores the political economy of waste circulation, its transformation of landscapes, lives and communities in North America, and its relationship to environmental politics and neo-liberalism. It is based primarily on fieldwork conducted in and around a large landfill on the periphery of Detroit that accepts most of its waste from Toronto, Canada. American waste importation is a peculiar irony of neoliberal governance and NAFTA, which shield waste from regulation as if it were an ordinary good. As both a landfill employee and a participant in local activism opposed to the waste trade, I followed the waste as it was labored upon, profited from, and politicized into a public concern. I argue that while waste adheres to bodies, identities, communities, and environments as a form of pollution, its material and symbolic ambiguity makes possible certain forms of creative expression and transformation, including ecological invention, scavenging, the revival of local rituals, and social protest. The circulation of waste thus becomes implicated in imposing and contesting different kinds of social power - from managerial discipline in postindustrial workplaces, to border patrols and the governmentality of NAFTA - ultimately because it serves as a means of negotiating between categories of transient and durable form or, more generally, impermanence and permanence.

After leaving Michigan assumed a research postdoc at Goldsmiths College in London, working with the interdisciplinary Waste of the World Programme . From 2008-2009 I researched alternative waste treatment technologies being promoted by the UK government - from low-tech anaerobic digestors to sophisticated gasifiers and pyrolyzers - I examined the creation of so-called "Clean Energy Economies," a utopian vision of a future Green Capitalism restructured around an ostensibly "new" politics of matter and energy. I am exploring the promotion of experimental technologies and the construction of evidence through public demonstrations in the UK as well as attempts in the EU and abroad to reconcile the cultural figure of Homo ecologicus with that of Homo economicus , environmental values (such as climate change mitigation) with capitalist profit mechanisms and financial instruments.

Most recently I worked on an FP7 Science in Society research project titled ‘HealthGovMatters’. In collaboration with partners in Austria and Germany, we explored the role of UK patients, professionals and their respective organizations in the development and application of new medical technologies. We were most interested in the growing application of "converging technologies" (those at the intersection of nanoscience, biotechnology, information science, and cognitive science) in the clinical research and treatment of neuro-genetic conditions, specifically autism, epilepsy and migraine. Some of the more exotic examples of converging technologies, which inspired the original research grant, include new imaging techniques, the use of nanobodies and nanoparticles in new pharmaceuticals and therapies, and brain-computer interfaces.


My involvement in HealthGovMatters is part of a broader interest in the implications of new technologies for conceptions of human agency and impairment.  I am presently revising an article entitled "Technically Speaking" that critically engages with post-human theoretical approaches to these topics and explores experimental contemporary sites where the boundaries of the human are being decided and contested.

Josh Reno's Blog

Selfish neurons and human enhancement

In October of 2009, I heard Dr. Kenneth Harris give a talk at Imperial College's Neuro-science Technology Symposium on what I will call the capitalist brain. Now by this I do not mean the brain of a capitalist nor even the brain as molded by one (e.g., the news media has popularized the developing practices of…


Posted on December 12, 2010 at 5:00am — 5 Comments

Comment Wall (6 comments)

You need to be a member of Open Anthropology Cooperative to add comments!

At 7:08am on September 16, 2009, Nold Egenter said…
....there is a new post, maybe of interest? Anthropology of Habitat and Architecture: The five main lines of the evolution of culture". You will find it at the OAC-Blog site. Wonder what you think. Would be glad for a comment.....
At 9:45pm on June 8, 2009, Eliza Jane Darling said…
Heads-up; looks like were in for a Tube strike. Tomorrow night through Thurs eve.
At 6:15pm on June 3, 2009, Jessica C. Robbins said…
Hi Josh! And I am honored to have you as my first friend on anthro-nerd facebook. See you soon!!
At 11:05pm on June 2, 2009, Jessica Smith Rolston said…
Looking forward to it!
At 7:31pm on June 2, 2009, Timm Lau said…
Hi Josh, great to hear about your markets and catastrophe panel. Keith dropped a hint somewhere in the economic anthropology discussion that there will be a number of AAA session with economic themes this year. Let's exchange more info about our respective panels to see how we might cooperate productively.

Another thing, I'm very interested in the anthropology of waste and would love to learn more about it. I have very little time for reading at the moment, but would love to discuss this area with you in some way!
At 3:39am on May 29, 2009, Josh Reno said…
I've posted a bunch of photos from my two major research projects (doctoral and postdoctoral), along with comments about them for anyone interested. I am experimenting with the idea of using this site as an academic diary of sorts.

Josh Reno's Photos

  • Add Photos
  • View All


OAC Press



© 2019   Created by Keith Hart.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service