Toilets, bodies, selves: enacting composting as counterculture in Hawai'i

Pickering, L. (2010) Toilets, bodies, selves: enacting composting as counterculture in Hawai'i. Body and Society, 16(4), pp. 33-55. (doi:10.1177/1357034X10383882)

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Defecation has received limited attention within the social sciences and humanities. Toilets not a great deal. Urination even less. However, examining the practice of composting faeces and ‘pee[ing] on any tree’ by white, West Coast US ‘hippies’ and ‘drop-outs’ living in Hawai’i suggests that the disposal of excreta is never simple disposal. Rather, it entails engagement with the state, one’s own body and sense of placedness. Through looking at the everyday defecatory practices of hippies and drop-outs in Hawai’i, this article seeks to examine the interplay of the act of defecation and urination with the materiality of toilets themselves. Each depends on the other, and both exist in relation to various others: other toilet designs, other communities, other people. As such, it becomes possible to extend beyond Douglas’s argument that ‘dirt is matter out of place’ to explore the notion that – at least in relation to toilets – ‘dirt is relations out of place’. By placing relationships at the heart of this analysis of defecation and urination, this article provides fertile ground for the exploration of embodiment at its most base level, as site of generative action and social critique.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Anthropology, body fluids, Hawai’i, hippies, sewage, waste
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Pickering, Dr Lucy
Authors: Pickering, L.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Social Scientists working in Health and Wellbeing
College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Body and Society
ISSN (Online):1460-3632

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