The Disposable Surplus: Notes on Waste, Reindeer, and Biopolitics

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Hugo Reinert


Waste, Surplus, Disposability, Reindeer, Industrialization, Biopolitics


The article examines the emergence of waste as an industrial category in the context of contemporary indigenous Sámi reindeer pastoralism and slaughter in northern Norway. In recent decades, commercially available substitutes and the industrial reorganization of slaughter have displaced traditional methods of extraction and utilization. As a result, the slaughtered reindeer body has been reorganized within new regimes of waste and waste management. Focusing on the relationship between disposal and harm, the first half of the article explores some of the reorientations involved in this transition. The second half links the emergence of industrial waste, as the worthless surplus of an anonymous carcass, to the formation of a disposable surplus at the populational level. Is there a link between the anonymous disposability of reindeer parts, constituted as the worthless waste of industrial modernity, and the anonymous disposability of living reindeer constituted within state biopolitics? In English, extended summary in Russian.

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