Academic Research

Repair Studies


Discard Studies - "Critical Discard Studies is an emerging interdisciplinary sub-field that takes waste and wasting, broadly defined, as its topic of study. We use the “discard studies” instead of “waste studies” to ensure that the categories of what is systematically left out, devalued, left behind, and externalized are left open." -

Daniela K. Rosner — University of Washington, Human-Centered Design and Engineering —

Steven J. Jackson — Cornell University, Department of Information Science —

Lara Houston — Goldsmiths, University of London, Sociology Department —

Notable Publications

“R3pair Volume” continent., Issue 6.1 / 2017: 1-3, Editors: Lara Houston, Daniela K Rosner, Steven J. Jackson, Jamie Allen. Letter from the editors and nineteen papers. continent.

”Here are questionings of the oppositional forces of newness and continuation, replacement and restoration, garbage and treasure through ethnographic writings, philosophical deliberation, artwork, film making and cross-linked online projects.”

“This collection affirms there is life beyond design.”

“Rethinking Repair” an essay by Stephen J. Jackson in Tarleton Gillespie, Pablo Boczkowski, and Kirsten Foot, eds. Media Technologies: Essays on Communication, Materiality and Society. MIT Press: Cambridge MA, 2014. Rethinking Repair

“Above all, repair occupies and constitutes an aftermath, growing at the margins, breakpoints, and interstices of complex sociotechnical systems as they creak, flex, and bend their way through time. It fills in the moment of hope and fear in which bridges from old worlds to new worlds are built, and the continuity of order, value, and meaning gets woven, one tenuous thread at a time. And it does all this quietly, humbly, and all the time.”

“…worlds of maintenance and repair and the instances of breakdown that occasion them are not separate or alternative to innovation, but sites for some of its most interesting and consequential operations.”

“Values in Repair” a paper by Lara Houston, Steven Jackson, Daniela K. Rosner, Syed Ishtiaque Ahmed, Meg Young, and Laewoo Kang, ACM New York, NY 2016, Values in Repair

"...acts of repair may extend but also enliven the landscape of things, building forms of meaning and attachment that help thicken human relationships to technology.  Generic manufactured objects may be deepened or ennobled through repair, adding affective and social valences.  Within an industrial and consumption-centered economy, new forms of durability can be achieved, and things meant to be discarded can be turned into things to be cared for and saved.  At the same time, repair can change its human participants, transforming 'mere users' into something slightly more, better versed and engaged with the object worlds around them... Our arguments draw on the recognition that breakdown is everyday rather than exceptional, and that the recuperative processes of repair are central to the maintenance of social and material orders across time."

“Breakdown, Obsolescence and Reuse: HCI and the Art of Repair” an essay by Steven J. Jackson, Laewoo Kang, Breakdown

“Values get built into technology, but they still take work to maintain –and additional, sometimes alternative values may be introduced through ongoing acts of repurposing and reuse that humans routinely perform vis-à-vis the world of objects around them.”

“‘Broken’ things push back on human action and possibility in ways that ex-nihilo conceptions of creativity and design may miss. And activities of repurposing and repair may call out forms of long-run relationships between humans and objects that tend to disappear under the up-front design orientations of the HCI field.”

"The role of design and designer may be less about building “new”thingsin the world, and more about inflecting and remixing the human and object -10-worlds that exist, bringing oldforces into newcombinations. As workwith broken and repurposed materials makes clear, such workmay involve formsof communication with material objects and forces with idiosyncrasies, challenges, and inclinations all their own."

“Maintenance and Care” A working guide to the repair of rust, dust, cracks, and corrupted code in our cities, our homes, and our social relations. Shannon Mattern, November 2018 Maintenance and Care

“We care for things not because they produce value, but because they already have value.”

Repair Matters, call for papers, ephemera, Issue editors: Valeria Graziano and Kim Trogal, expected 2019. Repair Matters

“If repair brings its own (heterogeneous) ethos and logic, it could also do more than simply shift the focus of specific areas of expertise, such as design. It could become a significant component of alternative processes of organizing for socially and ecologically just cycles of production and consumption.”